Track It or Sell It
Software Manufacturers Offer a Variety of Solutions
by Samantha Carpenter
In the technological world in which we live, we all look for products that make our lives—and our businesses—easier. Many of you may already use a number of software packages in your business to make sure tracking and distributing your products goes as smoothly as possible. There are many choices in the marketplace, and
SHELTER wants to make sure that you are educated about a number of them.
WoodWare Systems of Memphis, Tenn., offers an on-line interactive set of application modules designed to manage nearly every aspect of millwork operations. “Each module handles an important part of the automated process, facilitating the flow of customer-order information from time of receipt through shipping and billing,” said Mike Owens, vice president of sales and marketing.
Distribution Management Systems Inc. (DMSi) of Omaha, Neb., provides accounting and business-management software built with integrated features designed specifically for jobbers and millwork distributors. Windows-based and web-hosted solutions, as well as options such as laser forms and warehouse-management solutions are included.
Caliburn Inc. of West Chester, Pa., offers a full range of software applications geared specifically to the window and door industry. Mobile systems for use in the field include: personal digital assistants (PDA) for quoting and ordering and notebook sales and quoting systems, which can be used as stand-alone or integrated with an office system, allowing the user to e-mail orders and quotes to the office system.
Bid Master of Smyrna, Del., offers jobbers, distributors and dealers electronic-product smart-pricing catalogs, educational CD-ROMs and Internet e-commerce solutions.
Computer Associates Inc. of Islandia, N.Y., offers distributors and dealers a complete Windows-based software solution that runs on a Windows 2000 network. The complete system is ODBC-compliant, features point-and-click technology and utilizes many of the standard Windows tools and utilities.
Friedman Corp. of Deerfield, Ill., offers a quoting and order-entry solution called Powerbids, which is used by manufacturers of windows and doors as well as its dealers.
Software manufacturers offer a variety of solutions, but many of you want to know specifically how to improve the tracking of products and materials in your warehouse.
WoodWare introduced its Windows-based warehouse management system (WMS) in 2002.
“Working in conjunction with one of our customers, we developed the WMS system with specific millwork functionality unique to the industry,” Owens said.
The system utilizes hand-held radio frequency-based barcode scanners throughout the warehouse. The use of the devices provides real-time updates and inquiries to the inventory-control module so that products can be tracked throughout the warehouse.
DMSi offers an interface to the Majure Data WMS solution. The system automates the processes of updating everything affecting inventory in the back-office system, including purchase orders, sales orders, work orders, inventory adjustments, customer returns, customer refusals, etc.
According to Alan Kosse, DMSi’s marketing/communications specialist, this system differs from other WMS solutions in that it incorporates functionality specific to the building-products industry, meaning it’s well equipped to handle lumber, millwork, manufacturing and moulding-related issues.
“The newest features are automatic work-order completion/updating capability, and this month is remanufacturing functionality. By late spring, we will be offering proof-of-delivery functionality that allows truck drivers, upon delivery, to record discrepancies on handheld devices in a fashion similar to UPS delivery people,” Kosse said.
Caliburn Inc. offers a production inventory management system (PIMAN). According to Andy Woods, president, the system uses barcode scanning to track inventory in the warehouse, ensuring correct and complete product shipment with audio feedback to alert you of incomplete and incorrect truck loading.
Computer Associates offers full location tracking as standard within its software system. “This can be combined with barcoding equipment, including radio frequency, to track material from receiving to the warehouse, within the warehouse and shop and, ultimately, through to shipping,” said Ken Stubert, account manager for building materials.
Selling Products on the Web
Does selling products on the Internet to your customers interest you?
DMSi, Caliburn, Bid Master and WoodWare all offer an e-commerce solution for ordering and entering products. In addition, DMSi and WoodWare offer electronic data interchange (EDI) functionality.
Computer Associates goes further with its e-commerce program. Information from its software melds to the websites of distributors and dealers to allow them to present the information they want their customers to see.
“For example, the [distributors or dealers] can present product information, inquiry capabilities, pricing information and, of course, allow the customer to place an order for their products,” said Stubert.
The order is then seamlessly fed into the software system, where the outside sales force can review custom orders and information through the web at any time.
WoodWare customers also can connect remote branches or sales locations via the Internet, plus they can allow their own customers to connect over the web for account management information.
In the Works
Maybe you are a company that is using all of the types of such software solutions, but you are looking for a way to improve efficiency.
“This month, [Friedman Corp.] will roll out its new product, Dealer Business Manager, which is a dealer version of Powerbids targeted at the subcontractor industry,” said marketing manager Seuhyounng Pak.
This new product will have a core application that provides access to any Powerbids application and creates quotes made up of products from any manufacturer using the software. In addition, it will include features like project management, pre-line notices, etc.
WoodWare’s WMS and other barcode-related modules will continue to be expanded. Other new modules from WoodWare include a customer-service management module, a document imaging and management module, a contract billing module and EDI modules, according to Owens.
Caliburn expects a major new release of its Caliburn Enterprise Software suite—Caliburn Fusion, according to Woods.
DMSI is introducing StockNET, a tool that will help distributors develop and update an online catalog, an electronic catalog or a printed catalog; plus, the company will be expanding its product configurator, according to Kosse.
Bid Master is introducing a complete distributor catalog to include all distributor products with electronic integration to in-house enterprise resource-planning systems, according to Michael J. Seward, sales manager.
Computer Associates’ Ponderosa BMAS version 5.0 will have an improved serialized unit/mixer program for user handling and re-packaging of moulding and siding.
Huse Milwaukee Millwork & Lumber Co. of Milwaukee is one company using a custom electronic catalog from Bid Master for its interior and exterior doors, mouldings, stair parts, closet systems and hardware.
President Jack Huse said the catalog allows salespeople to price jobs quickly and accurately.
“It makes them address each option, producing an accurate and detailed quote. They could not go back to the way of pricing from a catalog and hand writing their quotes,” said Huse.
“Changes are simple and require no rewriting, improving their dispositions when a customer changes color, wall thickness or grill layout.”
Bayer Built Woodworks Inc. of Belgrade, Minn., uses Computer Associates’ accounting module, PROCON configurator and truck-load scheduling module.
“Our company simply could not process the volume of business we do today without this system,” said Joe Bayer, partner and president.
“Converting to the current version with the graphic user interface (GUI) allows us to key more than 80 percent of customer orders live while the customer is still on the phone. This is efficient in many ways, as the order is complete, ready to go into production as soon as the customer hangs up the phone. In most cases, a faxed confirmation is automatically sent to the customer before he hangs up the phone, so he can verify the order immediately.”
J. B. O’Meara Co. of Burnsville, Minn., uses a number of WoodWare’s products, including purchasing, sales, order-entry and barcoding software.
“Our ability to process, load and deliver orders on a timely basis has improved, thereby increasing our customer satisfaction,” said Dave Wratkowski, J.B. O’Meara’s controller.
“Also, the system monitors credit management issues on a per-order basis, which increases our credit manager’s productivity and minimizes our bad debt exposure.”
Moberly, Mo.-based Mid-Am Building Supply Inc. uses DMSi’s StockNET product. “The high level of automation in [DMSi’s] products, even in the creation of a custom online catalog, makes these products stand out. Overall, we’re pleased with the flexibility of the products,” said Ron Ott, controller.
Whether you are looking for basic software, software to make warehousing building materials easier, software to sell your product online or something entirely new, all of these software companies have something to offer.
Samantha Carpenter is the editor of SHELTER magazine.
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