Achieve Global | Inventory Management Case Study
AchieveGlobal, a division of The Times Mirror Company, is an exciting combination of three of the world’s best-known training and consulting organizations: Kaset International, Learning International and Zenger Miller. The company helps organizations achieve business results through superior sales, customer service, leadership and teamwork.
AchieveGlobal Canada was a subsidiary of its U.S. counterpart until September 1999, when it was sold off as a franchise to a new owner. Its customers are mostly found in the top half of the Canadian Fortune 100. The company’s main activities involve coordinating training courses, and providing materials and supplies relating thereto.
The company has a complex inventory model, with highly configurable kits, bills of materials and third party warehousing; and the warehouse staff have no knowledge of the constraints and rules regarding kits and assembled packages. It was therefore critical that the solution be able to supply the warehouse staff with accurate instructions on an automated basis, and provide a limited, real-time interface into Achieve’s order entry and inventory system.
In addition, the company has a number of complex, multi-layered customer contracts. These determine pricing based a number of variables relating not only to the customer and product, but also the type of order and a number of other circumstances.
Until the change of ownership, they were using their U.S. parent company’s ERP system (Lawson), which had been substantially customized to handle some of their unique requirements. When the sale of the franchise was announced, the company was given a three month deadline to find and implement a replacement system.
AchieveGlobal Canada selected Blue Link and its Solutions Accounting. An intensive project was mounted to perform a detailed needs analysis, develop custom features where necessary for the unique inventory and contract requirements, test, train end users, define business procedures, and perform extremely complex data conversion. A project of this magnitude would usually take place over 5 to 6 months, but Achieve had less than three.
By using the strengths of Solutions Accounting and the Microsoft Access environment, and tapping in to the Excel skills already existent at Achieve and the tight integration between Solutions Accounting and Excel, Achieve was able to go live on time with real, up to date converted data, and all the necessary complex business rules were accommodated.
Inventory, kitting and bill of materials requirements were handled using built-in Solutions Accounting features, customized to take account of the company’s complex rules. Limited functionality screens were added for remote access by the third party warehouse. The company’s complex contract structure was analyzed in depth, resulting in a simplified business definition that still provided the same end result, and this definition was then imposed on the Solutions Elite contract-pricing module.
Learn More About Blue Link’s Inventory Software
Data from the ERP system was converted by Blue Link and Achieve personnel, working cooperatively, not only saving weeks of manual data input, but also reducing the scope for data errors and preserving transaction history where required.
According to Denise Edwards, AchieveGlobal Canada’s Manager, Fulfillment and Logistics: “The recent split from our US parent as well as the merger of three training companies, each in themselves doing business in unique styles resulted in a complicated Inventory, assembly and pricing structure for even the most multifaceted operating system. Due to the immense flexibility of Solutions Accounting and the knowledgeable staff at Blue Link, we were able to customize the system to meet our needs.”
Carolyn Crawford, Manager, Accounting and Administration, adds: “We found your design; support and implementation team provided us with a quick response, while taking the time to step back and address the business needs.”
|AB&R® (American Barcode and RFID) was approached by a chemical management solutions provider with background in efficient supply chains for high purity, pre-packaged chemicals and gases. They provide services including warehousing, transportation, environmental services, training, and consulting. One of their more prominent services they provide is inventory management at various major sites in several states.||In this inventory management case study, the company needs a mobile data collection and inventory management solution that can run on handheld devices. They wish to eliminate uncertainty of stock and location, and have a central database on which to record all of their information (assets, inventories, sales, etc.). There is a need for a large, centralized data repository with a PC interface in order to store, maintain, and process all of the goods, descriptions, quantities, and purchase orders efficiently and collectively. Inventory management and tracking must be drastically altered. The current system is a WMS export to an Excel spreadsheet that must then be manually transferred back into the WMS system.|
1. Handheld Requirements
AB&R® proposed one broad inventory management solution, dictating the requirements of the application. The recommended application to be used to meet the needs of the project is a customized min/max level version of AB&R’s® Scansmart Inventory program.
The solution is a mobile data collection program that can run on a handheld scanning device, thus replacing the manual process. The WMS system will remain, but instead of exporting to Excel, the information will be exported from the WMS, from which it can be imported into the Scansmart program. Because this is a cellular application, the inventory must be uploaded to headquarters while out in the field, and WMS orders are to be automatically generated from the inventory taken on the handheld.
The handheld devices must be able to account for a specific inventory item in any number of various rooms in a site, and maintain record of the inventory level specific to each room. The devices must require a user to sign in, and it keeps track of what user completed what inventory counts (allowing for easier management of employees).
The device must also have capabilities to provide lists of what items the system is expecting, not what has been counted. If an item has not been scanned before leaving a room, the program should prevent scanning or selecting another room until the whole of the expected inventory has been accounted for.
The program must have the option to scan room number codes, company part number codes, or pallets to get a view of the entire inventory in that setting at once. The program should reject the entry and warn the employee that it does not exist in the case that the entry is not on the list of pre-approved locations or items.
Security on the device will operate on three levels: read only, edit, and administrator. The administrator and edit users will have the same rights on the handheld, but on the desktop, only administrators can add new users.
2. Desktop Requirements
The PC application must have capabilities to automatically pull handheld data from the device and compile that in the system, once the handheld goes into its charging/sync cradle.
The data from each site must remain separate from the other sites.
The employee should be able to manage desktop information for each inventory item. This implies adding data, analyzing it, or deleting it, to make room for new imports. The data must be easy to sort, filter, and report using an optimized Graphical User Interface (GUI).
The desktop program must be able to maintain separate inventory levels (for each separate room) of the same item.
A Phase I implementation of the new inventory management system requires collaboration between AB&R and the company. AB&R’s responsibilities include:
- Installation of the Custom Scansmart Inventory Management Access application software
- includes installation of the desktop version on one PC at the project pilot site and configuration of the program
- includes handheld application installation on three to nine Windows Mobile based handheld devices at the project pilot site and configuration
- Training on the proper operation of the handheld and desktop applications for company personnel
- Testing of the entire application and its processes to ensure proper operation
The company’s responsibilities in the implementation of the solution include:
- Ensure that barcode labels are on all inventory items or locations of inventory items
- Take an inventory export from the WMS system for all inventory at the pilot site save in format specific to new system requirements (.csv or .xls)
- Make sure all computers are running a new enough version of the software and that a system administrator is present to install to all machines
After all of these steps have been taken to ensure a smooth implementation process, both AB&R® and the company will work together to test the entire newly installed system thoroughly, in order to ensure perfect operation.
The majority of the implementation costs come from the creation of the custom software, its installation, services on all technology provided by AB&R, and rugged mobile devices.
|Since implementation, the company has enjoyed an easier way to manage their business:|