Solutions to business problems

Richard from Boston rang

“Richard from Boston rang. Can you ring him back? It’s urgent.” Only one snag…you don’t know a Richard in Boston.


You may have a spreadsheet but will it tell you Richard’s telephone number  in Boston ? – it might. Or it might not.


The solution is a Database. Databases allow you to filter your search and find all the Richards and then all the Richards in Boston.


Recently a Client asked me to find all the owners of Post Offices in a particular area so that he could send them a mail merge letter asking if they were interested in selling. Easy with a Database. If you would like to find out how a Database system can help your business contact Bluebird Software on 020 8349 4714.


How can I increase

How can I increase the value of my business by 15%?


Potential buyers are looking for a business that runs itself. A business where the business processes are as automated as possible, where they can get on with getting the customers and paying in the cheques.


A database system can handle many if not all the intermediate processes. For example, a Property Solicitor enters the Seller or Buyers details into the system and the system generates all the client Care letters.


A Management Training Company has a system that looks after delegates’ bookings, payments and courses.


A firm of architects where all the contacts between Client, Architect and Planning Authority are handled automatically.


If you had a choice of buying one company with a system like this or a Company that relied on a series of clerks doing similar things, which one would you choose?
Bye-bye to the Backroom Boys

Bye-bye to the Backroom Boys (and Girls) !!

Backroom staff are those whom you never see Front of House. They are the heroes who process your data, who organise things behind the scenes. But without them, the Company would seize up.

Let me give you an example. An Electrical Fitting Company used to employ two staff whose job it was to receive calls from potential customers who wanted some work done, find an electrical fitter and the next available slot, book the fitter in, ring back the customer and produce a job sheet. Vital work.

Bluebird Software produced a system that did all these tasks automatically.

Result? The boss answers incoming calls and runs the software so the customers are allocated the next free fitter. He now employs two extra fitters. The two backroom boys have gone. The Company is more efficient and profits have dramatically improved.

Have you upgraded to Windows 10 ? – unless you’re American there’s one thing they forgot to tell you…

As well as pronouncing potatoes and tomatoes incorrectly, Americans have their dates round the wrong way. The 30th of June 2016 is written in American as 06/30/16. Unfortunately, Microsoft thinks that everyone is American. When you have installed, Windows 10, Microsoft assume everyone likes their dates American style. This means that in Word , when you type ALT SHIFT D the date is shown with the month before the day. The same thing can happen in Excel and Access. The other problem you may find is that the @ and # keyboard keys have moved from their normal places.


To swap it back to UK style, this is what you do:

From the Windows key, select Settings and then click on the entry at the bottom:


Additional Date, Time and Regional Settings

Click on : Add a language and select English United Kingdom.

It will download English UK from Microsoft (this could take 4-5 minutes)

Click on Move Up to make sure English UK is at the top. It is best to delete English United States otherwise, you can find yourself fippling back to it by accident.

Windows 10 Settings



Click on Change Date, Time & Number Format

and check the date settings look like this:

Windows 10 Settings 2Back to Normal…Phew!!

Lost a name or Phone Number? – Outlook can help you find it..sometimes.

Not everybody knows, but you can filter a mass of emails to extract the ones you want.

In Outlook, on the top right, just below the Ribbon there is a Search box – Search Inbox  (Ctrl + E) and typing a word into this will filter all your emails to just show ones with that word in it.

Search Inbox 1Typing ‘Bentley’ into the box will just show all files containing that word.

Filtering Outlook

There is also an ‘Advanced Find’ which will let you apply more criteria.

Advanced Find - OutlookThese tools are better than nothing – but if you are doing a lot of searching, you will find it much easier using a proper database. Contact Bluebird for details.

Did you know you can do calculations in a Mail Merge?

One of the advantages of using Mailmerge in a database is that you can easily perform repetitive calculations. For example, if you are calculating the amount a member owes for a particular membership type, or the cost to include his or her family, it can easily be included in your merge.

This is not really possible if you do your mail merge using MS Word alone.

For example

Dear John

It is now time to renew your membership for Nonesuch Fitness Club

Mr John Smith       Full Member        £ 520
Mrs Mary Smith     Full Member        £ 520
Elaine Smith           Junior Member    £ 125

Subtotal                                                   £1165
Less Family Discount 10%                  £ 116.5
To Pay                                                     £1048.50

All the writing in green is generated by the Database

All this can be calculated automatically for each club member.  What a saving in time and energy!

To know more about Mail merge give Bluebird a ring.

Is your Backup System doing what you think it is doing?

Backup can fail for a number of reasons eg

  • Backup media full i.e. there is no more room on the disc or tape
  • You are backing up the wrong folders
  • The Backup is interrupted by a power cut or by the computer being switched off
  • The file you want to back up is still open

The last one is often the most important. Some backup systems will not save files that are open, for example, if you left an Excel or Word document open, it will be excluded. This is why, at Bluebird Software, after 90 minutes of non-use, a warning message is shown:








There are several other advantages in closing your database, Word or Excel software. To find out more – contact Bluebird

When to draw the line on Spreadsheets.

An Excel spreadsheet has over a million rows and over sixteen thousand columns. But they start getting unwieldy at sizes far smaller than this. How do you know when it is time to do something about it?

  • The Workbook won’t open correctly or won’t open at all
  • It takes ages to open the Workbook.
  • It takes you several minutes to find the right place and make sense of what you are looking at.
  • A linked spreadsheet is missing and rows will not show correctly.
  • You cannot find the information you want.

Spreadsheets are not a good way of organising large amounts of data. To find better ways contact Bluebird

Do you need to produce Reports based on Surveys?

Bluebird has recently developed a system that allows you to enter Survey data on an Android Smartphone and when the phone has network access to seamlessly transfer it to a Database. If there is no access, the phone caches the information, and relays it back when a wireless or a a 3g or 4G network is within range. For more info – contact Bluebird.

Are you an Illegal Character – or are you using them?

Sometimes when you try and save a file windows will not let you. The reason – Illegal characters. The characters you are not allowed are:

  • < (less than)
  • > (greater than)
  • : (colon)
  • ” (double quote)
  • / (forward slash)
  • \ (backslash)
  • | (vertical bar or pipe)
  • ? (question mark)
  • * (asterisk)

You also can’t put a space as the first character in a file. So to put a date as part of a file name – separate with dashes – not slashes!!

Christmas is the time – to let them know you are still here!

Many businesses send Calendars or Christmas or New Year Cards to their customers – to remind them they still exist – and are ready for their business. Now is the time to dust off your Client List, remove the rubbish and make sure all new Clients or Prospective Clients are on the list – with their correct contact details.

Let us know if your database needs to be created – or needs a clean!