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Frequently Asked Questions
Go to Database-Generated FAQs website
 
 

Questions:

  1. What is the price of CommonCents?

  2. Since when was CommonCents 101 MF Software became available in the market?

  3. When was the development of Commoncents 101 started?

  4. What is an N-tier Architecture and Object Oriented Programming (OOP)? And why do you keep on emphasizing these terms in your materials?

  5. What are the databases that can used by the CommonCents 101 software?

  6. What are the similarities and differences between Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server?

  7. Between MS Access and MS SQL Server, which database is more appropriate for MFIs? What are their advantages and disadvantages? and what database do you recommend?

  8. What are the hardware and software requirements of CommonCents?

  9. Do you have an On-line Demo where we can view CommonCents and see its features??

  10. Do you have a FAQ site for technical (encountered by your client--partners) questions??


1. What is the price of CommonCents 101 MF Software?    Go top

Please call CENTECH Corp. at +63 46 4245797 / +63 46 4892163 or email us at fcbsicad@yahoo.com for the pricing. Please also refer to our POLICIES ON PRICING.

 



2. Since when was CommonCents 101 MF Software became available in the market?
   Go top

Officially, it was released in the market on September 1, 2002, 4 days after  CENTECH Corp. was registered as a company in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines. However, it was used (parallel ran) by one Micro Finance Institution (MFI)  few months before is was officially released.

 

3. When was the development of CommonCents 101 MF Software started?     Go top

The development of CommonCents 101 MF Software started in the early months of 2002. This was after Carlo B. Sicad--the Chief Software Architect of CommonCents 101 software--ended its contract as a local MIS consultant with a consulting firm tasked by ADB to develop a MicroFinance Software for Peoples Credit Finance Corporation's (PCFC) Grameen Bank Approach Replicators (GBAR) Client-partners.
 

 

4. What is an N-tier Architecture and Object Oriented Programming (OOP)? And why do you keep on emphasizing these terms in your materials?     Go top

N-tier Architecture is a methodology in software design in which you divide system's functionalities into services or tiers. After you identify them, you make separate object templates or classes for each of these functionalities or a combination of them. Example of these services (or tiers) are; Security Service, Data Connection Service, Business Rule Validation Service, User Tracking Service, Error Handling Service and Data Access Services. Other services which we could also consider are; the User Interface (UI) service--the one which helps build the Front-end interface, the database  service (which in some degree has the stored procedures)--the one handling the data storage, the report-generation service which can  be represented by Crystal Report object or any commercially-available report generators.  These services can be separated physically or logically. This N-tier architecture is an improvement from the client-server (2-tiered) architecture since it has 3 or more services. (see
CC n-tier diagram)
If you design your software using N-tier architecture your are forced to program it using Object Oriented Programming (OOP). In OOP you will create your object templates (classes) and use or reuse it in your user-interface (UI)  forms. You may also use 3rd party classes which will do special services you want. OOP dominantly use objects in running your software. Objects have properties and even functions in it. An example of an object is a Person object. A person object can have properties such as 'last name', 'birthday', 'ID number' and functions such 'cloning' function. This object oriented paradigm makes programming easy because objects (with  properties and functions) can be passed and manipulated rather than manipulating many sets of variables. Another good thing about N-tier and OOP is that class modules are reusable and they are stored  centrally. This means that the maintenance of the commonly used codes is relatively easy because they are not embedded in the User-interface forms.
These terms have been always emphasized in some pages to show technically, that CommonCents 101 MF Software is built using the latest and leading-edge technology in systems design and development. It is the methodology that will be dominantly used and learned if we want to upgrade to Microsoft .NET platform and maximize the use of  ADO.Net  and XML capabilities.

 

5. What are the databases that can used by the CommonCents 101 software?     Go top

CommonCents 101 software supports Microsoft Access and MySQL server databases. With a little customization it can be used with Microsoft SQL Server

 

6. What are the similarities and differences between Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server?     Go top

Microsoft Access and Microsoft SQL Server, to my opinion, are both relational  databases because they match most of the Codd's twelve rules for a relational database. Many databases in the market today are claiming to be relational databases when in fact they are not. A good example of a non-relational system which claims to be relational is XBase. Xbase is a flat file system. Unfortunately those claiming to be relational databases and are considered to be relational by most people, if evaluated using the Codd's twelve rules, will not qualify to be relational. In fact not one of the databases in the market today is relational if we strictly follow all the twelve rules.  But for the purpose of this discussion, we will classify  Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access and other database such as IBM's DB2, Oracle, Informix and others,  as relational database because they satisfy most of  Codd's twelve rules. The rules that they follow are:

All data must be contained in a table (rule no. 1)
Primary keys (rule no. 2)
Null Values (rule no. 3)
A system Catalog (rule no. 4)
SQL as a database retrieval and update language (rule 5 and 7
Built in referential integrity (rule no. 10)

The main differences between MS Access and MS SQL Server are the size limitation of the file and the type of system. From researched, MS Access has a file size limitation of  2 Gigabytes (this is a lot if you are just starting) while MS SQL server can handle ( Database size = 1,048,516 Terabytes, File size of data = 32 Terabytes). This is  more bytes that you can imagine. In fact, according to MS SQL Server claim, it can handle all the data in the world. Another difference between the two,  is MS Access is a FILE Server system while MS SQL Server is DATABASE server system. There is a big difference between a system that runs on a file server and that which runs in a database server. But take note that you will only notice this if you really have big databases and if you are really setting up your hardware configuration in a true sense of server-client configuration.  In a file server system, all processing are done on a client's CPU. The client's CPU will get all the data from the server and then process it locally when the data reach the CPU. For example if you have 30,000 clients in your server and you want to  process only those that are under the group "APPLE" , you will pass an SQL Statement say "Select * from Clients where Groupname = 'APPLE'" to the server. If you are using a file server system all of the 30,000 records will pass the network and when they reach the client's CPU, the application system (ex. CommonCents 101) will then throw out those records which are not under 'APPLE' group.  In a system running under a DATABASE server, if you send the same SQL stated above, the server will then process the request by getting only those records that are under the 'APPLE' group. The filtered records (those under group = APPLE) are then the only records that will pass the network. Again, I will reiterate that this is a big difference if you are processing millions of records in your system.

 

7. Between MS Access and MS SQL Server, which database is more appropriate for MFIs? What are their advantages and disadvantages? and what database do you recommend?     Go top

MS Access and MS SQL Server have their own advantages and disadvantages. The appropriateness on which database to use (and the software that handles it)  depends on the size of operations of the MFIs and the resources that is committed to the implementation of their computerized system. Many will have a bias on the MS SQL Server and probably will recommend it over MS Access database to be in the safer side.  They maybe right depending on the situation. Their decision would have  depended on their knowledge of  available software in the market. Most of the software nowadays are NOT SCALABLE. Meaning that  their data cannot be migrated easily from one database to another. This means that when in the future the data become bigger the user will have  to buy  totally a  new software and start the computerization process again. Another reason why they recommend SQL Server database is ROBUSTNESS or vulnerability of the database. When people are questioned about the vulnerability of a product (database) most people will tend to agree and recommend a more robust one to avoid  a possible blame in the future. In fact, I am in that dilemma right now. But I will continue to present my case or opinion and let the MFI decision-makers decide on their own.

Technically speaking, MS SQL Server database  is better than MS Access database.  

The main advantage of MS SQL Server over MS Access is: 

It a ROBUST database. Robustness can be defined in one term but has two different meanings. This word with two meanings is UNBREAKABLE. You probably heard the slogan "X is UNBREAKABLE". This means:

1.  UNBREAKABLE  - CANNOT BE BROKEN OR DESTROYED. The database is not fragile. The database cannot be easily damaged. If it is damaged it will repair on itself.
2.  UNBREAKABLE  - NO UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY. No one can enter into it without proper permission. No one can access and change its data  without proper authority.  The security features are very good.

Of course this (UNBREAKABLE) is an exaggerated feature, but it is technically true when compared to other databases.  But the question is "Does your MFI need these features?" In my opinion we need to have a cost-benefit  analyses before answering it or  making decision. In fact when a prospective client asked me for a super software  I always told them this,

   "If you want a software that can do anything or has all the features you want under the sun then you have to be ready to spend all your money under the sun."

This means that we should be wise in selecting a software especially if our budget is limited and if we are just starting up. And this is always true for majority of MicroFinance Institutions (MFIs) now--Year 2005.

In Summary;

The advantages of MS SQL Server are:

1.  It is a database server system (see explanation in previous FAQ Item)
2.  It can accommodate voluminous records (good for big systems)
3.  It is very robust (secure and not fragile)

The disadvantages of MS SQL Server are:

1.  You need  more resources to operate it  such as:

a. A database administrator who will manage the MS SQL Server
b. The license of the SQL Server or similar database system software
c. A powerful computer (hardware) and the license of some Operating Systems (OS) and a network software. The MS Access can be placed in a relatively low-level hardware with a peer-to-peer networking hardware architecture with a simple operating system.
d. You need a comprehensive training to use all the features of an MS SQL Server or similar database system software.

2. Not so portable. Unlike MS Access database which can be installed easily in almost all computer, MS SQL Server needs relatively more powerful hardware and you need to install the MS SQL Server software to maximize its use.

With this, I state my case. When you are just a start-up MFI or just starting to computerize your operations, just use an MS Access version rather than MS SQL Server version. With this set-up, you need less resources and probably will not wait for a long time to realize your dreams of a computerized system. Don't worry about the future, some of the software now in the market have  a good architecture (ex. CommonCents101) are now scalable. This means that what you have started will not be wasted because data from old databases (ex. MS Access) can be easily migrated to higher-level  database (ex. MS SQL Server 2000 or higher databases) with less work.

But if you are now ready for a very comprehensive system then go for the MS SQL Server database version. That is also a good decision. GO FOR IT.

 

8. What are the hardware and software requirements of CommonCents?      Go top

  • CommonCents can run on a stand-alone environment (i.e., single Desktop PC, laptop) or in a multi-user environment (i.e. PC Server with several desktop/laptop PCs connected). It can run in a peer-to-peer  environment where one the computers in the network can act as a server. All we have to do is put a directory in that server and share it with other computers or workstations. The server may also serve as one of the workstations if you have no dedicated server and if you have no budget for more PC or a dedicated server . However, if  you have  a dedicated server it is much better so that it can handle the function efficiently. CommonCents can truly run in a a multi-user environment because passing of data is disconnected. Meaning, the whole database does NOT "sit" or NOT loaded on the application. Only needed data (few records with fields) are passed from the server to the workstation from time to time.  CommonCents is installed in each workstation so the power of the computer (workstation) is used to operate CommonCents, so it is very efficient and need less resources to set up the whole multi-user environment.   

  • Runs on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8

  • Runs on Pentium IV or higher,  300 MB or higher (available hard disk space) , 512 MB RAM or higher. This is not a question anymore because almost all the new computers have these capabilities already.

 

9. Do you have an On-line Demo where we can view CommonCents and see its features?      Go top

  • We have a Demo but it is a short version and can be viewed in YouTube. We will develop more YouTube demos from time to time.

  • We have another Youtube Demo demonstrating how to create loans and to amortize or create an amortization schedule of a certain  loan. Please be reminded that in this demo, the client was already created previously in Clients module. This also demonstrates a new way of amortizating loans. Through the years, CommonCents have created many types of amortization schedule methodologies. These methods are available in CommonCents. All you have do to is select the method (appropriate for you organization) from the list and by clicking One button, an amortization schedule is produced. You may print the amortization schedule and give it to your client for their reference.    

  • We have  SPMS Youtube Demo for the Social Performance Management System which is PPI-ready. This demontrates how to create a record to capture the status of a client using PPI-ready 10-question methodology.  This SPMS system is connected to you clients who are in the Loan Tracking System and Savings Tracking System.   

  • We have an Online Help. We have developed this Online Help to enable you to acquaint yourselves on the functions and features of CommonCents101. This also features how to properly use the system

  • We can conduct an online demo if you are very far using Skype or other third party software.  However we encourage that we will visit your place so that we can present the software thoroughly.

 

10. Do you have a FAQ site for technical (encountered by your client--partners) questions?      Go top

  • Yes, We have started documenting the technical questions encountered by our clients from time to time. This is stored and can be viewed in "Database-stored--showed--questions".

  • Please go to this link to view them Database-Generated FAQs website.

 

   
 
     
CONTACT US

Carlo B. Sicad
Chief Software Architect, President and CEO
CEN Systems and Technologies (CENTECH) Corporation
3rd Floor 2636 Vienna St., Golden City
Imus, Cavite, Philippines 4103
 

 
Telephone: +63 46 4245797 - PLDT New No. +63 46 4892163 (sometimes down)
+63 999 7001745
Best time to call is 10AM - 12NN
Philippine Time (UTC +08:00)

E-mail: fcbsicad@yahoo.com
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