ONE LINK TO A UNIVERSE OF OPPORTUNITY
Don Green, ERP Manager for the Ewie Group of Companies (EGC), has been on a decades-long mission to maximize the automation of business processes. When EDI integration with ERP systems first became possible, he saw the great potential, but he also had to contend with the shortcomings. For instance, transactions involving automatic sourcing always required human intervention to complete. Being unable to automate all the steps from order placement to drop shipment—especially when 90% of your inventory is drop shipped—represented a significant limitation. These orders were all diverted into a manual workflow as quotes that a worker had to complete. This extra handling pulled employees away from other tasks and led to slower, more error-prone processing. The result was higher costs, coupled with customer service that was less than ideal.
Green spent countless hours on programming workarounds and ERP extensions to automate the many exceptions. At the time, his only option was to hard code the necessary information and write directly to the database. Although the method worked, it was time consuming, not cost effective, and not scalable. With the custom programming also tied to a particular database, it wasn’t designed to be repurposed or to leverage new technologies and innovations.
As a vendor and technology solutions provider for the manufacturing industry, EGC is always searching for new ways to lower costs, create efficiencies, and offer the highest level of customer service. The extensibility Green made possible with his programming expertise was much needed, but he realized it was no longer the best way to meet these objectives.
The right partnership made the solution simple, yet powerful. Green shifted the transaction processing over to UniLink, a leading EDI service provider. While building the connections to each trading partner’s system, UniLink embedded Green’s ERP customizations directly into the maps. These UniLink Smart Maps now contain all the business logic to mimic the extensibility to handle a customer’s order, verify it as a drop shipment, and automatically create the sales order and PO, without any human involvement.
The data is the same as before, but today UniLink now sends it in the Business Object Document (BOD) format, which is how Infor exchanges information across its platforms. This compatibility with the Infor OS cloud-ready environment opens up many opportunities for Green to build valuable new functionality for customers.
For an EGC customer, the automated sourcing process hasn’t noticeably changed, but from Green’s point of view, the effort, time, and expense involved to deliver that capability have all been significantly reduced.
By lifting the programming burden from Green, UniLink allows him to focus on the more important aspects of his role. He can now explore ways to take advantage of every new tool available in Infor OS, and the tight working relationship between UniLink and Infor gives him the confidence that everything will work as expected.
Comparing the cost of hard-coded business rules versus rules embedded in UniLink Smart Maps, and then factoring in the much lower cost per transaction UniLink offers, the decision to move away from in-house processing will result in substantial savings over time.
From an overall business perspective, working with UniLink has positioned EGC as a partner that can deliverbetter customer service and cutting-edge technology at a lower cost, a clear competitive advantage.