Horizon’s Development Capabilities and Solution Tools are Excellent
With a US-based team of thirty Research & Development professionals, Horizon has the resources to support its current products and invest innew products and technology for the future. Importantly, Horizon’s core senior developers average in excess of ten years’ experience with Horizon, which yields intellectual capabilities for food service that are unequalled in this industry. Horizon’s R&D team consists of Business Analysis, System Design, Development, Quality Assurance (QA), and Quality Control (QC), all integrated through Microsoft’s Team Foundation for Agile Software Development.
Horizon Utilizes the Latest Technologies
Horizon’s development teams use the most advanced development tools available. Horizon’s system is written using Microsoft’s integrated suite of .Net and database technologies, including the powerful Microsoft SQL Server database system. Of course, it’s also important to ensure that technologies are applied in a way that will ensure efficiency and stability in our customers’ environments. To help make sure this is the case, our OneSource System has earned several Windows compatibility certifications through independent testing by VeriTest, a Microsoft-authorized product testing and validation lab.
Quality Comes First
Horizon’s products can be counted on for their accuracy, reliability, and high data integrity. This is because at Horizon, quality comes first every step of the way. Using Microsoft’s Solution Framework for Agile Software Development, we adhere to a well-integrated process of analysis, design, development andtesting. Our selection of Microsoft Visual Studio with Team Foundation Server allows us to tightly couple these development best practices with the tools themselves, providing us with metrics on the full development life cycle and efficient communications between all team members.
Horizon offers a true enterprise system. Its flexibility is unparalleled anywhere in the world, and scalable from a single cafeteria, multiple cafeterias with a central office, and multiple central offices (with multiple cafeterias) consolidating to an Enterprise. Architected to be a highly fault-tolerant, mission-critical application, the system was designed from the ground up to keep on running regardless of network availability. While normally this kind of high availability would introduce complex data synchronization and software update issues, Horizon employs advanced technologies in both of these areas in order to provide an extremely reliable and “invisible” solution. Data synchronization follows a model very similar to SQL Server Replication, and its design was actually reviewed by members of Microsoft’s SQL Server development staff. Our software update service works silently behind the scenes and allows customers to stage a new software update at the highest level of their enterprise and have it propagate across the entire system; this occurs even while users are working in the system, all without any user intervention or involvement. We also recognize that in some cases, customers may require access to the application for remote users. In this case, we fully support the use of Citrix or Microsoft Terminal Services to access the full range of features without any client software being installed.
A to Z Integrated Solution
Horizon’s system isn’t just a single software application but rather a tightly integrated suite of complimentary products and services. The main software component is a highly-modularized food service management package that encompasses everything from inventory management and procurement to nutritional analysis, menu planning, production and point of sale…and much more. In addition to those many modules, we also offer optional applications like our MealpayPlus® online pre-payment system, our Free and Reduced application scanning package, and our integrated Vending products. A host of supporting consulting services covering everything from onsite training to data setup and process guidance are also available to help ensure a successful implementation. In addition, we can be your one-stop supplier for all of your related hardware needs, which may include work stations, servers, POS terminals or a variety of specialty equipment such as PIN pads, barcode scanners and biometrics.
Rich Client Advantage
Unlike web-based solutions, Horizon's core system was designed as a “Rich Client” application that could run with no loss of functionality when fully disconnected from the network. This not only means that the system is extremely tolerant of network outages, but by having all of the necessary data local to the user, the application interface can be extremely responsive, making lookups and searches nearly instant and updating data is just as fast because it is not affected by the “round trip” network latency so common with hosted applications. The highly-interactive user interface (UI) is able to present far more information than its web-based counterparts and still provide fast, intuitive access to every system function. Where help is needed with a particular feature, the system provides extensive context-sensitive help on each and every screen.
Starting as a Microsoft Certified Partner in 1999, Horizon has worked to continually nurture this relationship so that, today, we are recognized as part of an exclusive group of Microsoft Managed Gold Partner ISVs. WhileMicrosoft is one of our most valued partners, they are not the only one. Horizon has also earned the status of Global Alliance partner with IBM, and enjoys several market-specific partnerships with hardware vendors such as DELL, HP, and others. It is also important to note that in addition to being a company with a global customer base, Horizon remains very active in its home state of Georgia and within the local Gwinnett County business community, including being a member of the Gwinnett Technology Forum.
Business Intelligence (BI) is the name given to the set of features that allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your food service operation, without the need to run multiple reports and manually analyze results looking for problems. BI is proactive—it gives you at-a-glance insight on your entire operation and provides early warnings and predictive analysis on everything that is critical to you and your success. Horizon’s OneSource product offers these Business Intelligence benefits right out of the box. The Home Page in OneSource is a full BI “report card” that provides a wealth of information with no manual searching. At any moment you can see if your Inventory Value is where you want it, if your Cost Per Plate is meeting your goals, or if your Over Production numbers are dropping as you desire. These, and many other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), are built right into OneSource. All you need do is setup your goal value, determine which KPIs should apply to which sites, and the rest is automatic. For items on your personalized report card, you can view actual values, historical graphs and detailed reports supporting the analysis. Intuitive graphics immediately alert you to items that are not performing as expected, and pop-up help provides a concise explanation of each condition by simply hovering your mouse over the icon.
Horizon's system ships with literally hundreds of built-in reports covering every aspect of food service data analysis and regulatoryreporting. We use Crystal Reports to provide the greatest flexibility of reporting output, allowing users toexportreports to PDF, Excel, Word, and many other formats. In order tomake this extensive reporting library accessible and easy to use, OneSource introduced a new centralized Report Center. The Report Center provides users with a filterable list of every report in the system, by module, and provides an on-screen preview and description of every report so you can be sure you’ve selected the right report to answer whatever question you might have. In addition to making it easy to access reports, the Report Center also allows you to save your report criteria as named “favorites” so that you can quickly re-run a previous report or schedule a report to run automatically (daily, weekly, etc.) with pre-defined criteria. Also, reports can be grouped into convenient all-in-one collections that can be run with just one click, making it easy to run all your end-of-day reports without having to wait for each one to complete before starting the next. Even with this extensive reporting suite, we recognize that one size does not always “fit all,” so we’ve made it very easy to customize existing reports just by opening them up in your own copy of Crystal Reports Developer, making your change and saving them back.
Horizon’s communication system is fast, secure, and reliable
Horizon utilizes advanced .Net messaging offers robust bandwidth optimization options. It is highly fault tolerant and monitoring is available for all processes. The system is completely automated, (no user interaction required). The system is designed for redundancy and utilizes state of the art data replication technologies.
The OneSource Communicator (OSC) is a data replication technology designed by Horizon in conjunction with Microsoft SQL experts to provide the most reliable and secure data communications technology available. Similar to SQL Replication, OSC runs as a Windows service and follows a “publisher/subscriber” model. Each location where OneSource is installed can control the frequency of communications for each publication, allowing customers to balance data availability with available bandwidth. From the start OSC was designed to be highly fault tolerant. All communicated data is validated prior to acceptance and only complete data “sets” (e.g. a complete order) will be considered successful. The ability to automatically retry and reschedule communications cycles is also a core design element in OSC and requires no user interaction at all. In terms of data security, OSC employs the DoD-approved AES encryption standard, which can be turned on for any locations where our customers feel the additional security is needed. All data communications activity is also logged, and the results are available from within OneSource via a communications “dashboard,” providing support staff a quick high-level view of the state of communications enterprise-wide.
Even when using the best technology in the industry, sometimes things don’t operate quite as expected, and it is for these times that OneSource provides a number of powerful diagnostic tools to help quickly identify the problem. One of the best examples of this is the communications “dashboard” within OneSource. This one interface provides an at-a-glance status of data communications throughout the enterprise and, by using an intuitive graphical “stop light” metaphor, users immediately know that if “all lights are green,” they are good to go! When a problem does show up, you can drill down to the specific site or serving line to see exactly where the communications gap is occurring. When the challenge calls for even more detailed information, our diagnostic logging features come to the rescue. This feature is activated only when needed and is configurable to the level of detail to capture, allowing support staff to actually “see” the entire program flow in order to pinpoint exactly where an error might be occurring. If we find the evidence points to a database condition, we are also able to leverage the extensive set of diagnostic tools within Microsoft SQL Server itself in order to quickly address any data-related situation.
Interfacing is an art form
As a rule, Horizon must interface with a wide variety of systems on virtually every installation. Consequently, Horizon has extremely flexible interface options that allow any data that can be reported to be exported just as easily, either manually as needed or as a regularly scheduled batch process. Be assured that Horizon technicians are very experienced in developing efficient interfacing solutions and providing access to everything from template-driven exports of report data to a rich set of .Net APIs. In fact, Horizon will even write custom interfaces where needed and has expertise utilizing middle-ware integration packages such as IBM Web Sphere, Microsoft BizTalk and others.
Horizon’s software products have always been based on open standards, never proprietary. Because of this, our Back Office and POS systems are supported on any hardware that is supported by Microsoft Windows (currently XP, WEPOS, Vista, Windows 7 (32 and 64bit) and Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2). If you desire to run our products in a hosted “ASP” mode, you can even use thin client terminals to access the full functionality of our software. In fact, we even have customers who run the entire OneSource software suite on Windows Tablet PCs or Laptops, either for the mobility these devices provide or because of available space. Of course, the computer housing the software and database is just part of the solution and we support an extensive list of peripheral devices for patron identification (barcode readers, magnetic-stripe readers, biometrics, pin pads, etc.), product scanning (barcode “guns”, omni scanners, etc.) and specialty requirements (scales, change dispensers, pole displays, receipt printers, etc.).