(LOGO) Dal-Tile Success Story
By implementing American Software’s e-applications, our customers can easily view receivables information – improving our customer service while cutting response time. We recognized that e-receivable could further improve our customer relationship.”
Dal-Tile completed an ERP deployment during the early 1990s, using American Software’s System/390 ERP solution. It runs on an S/390 mainframe located at IBM Global Services’ Dallas data center. As part of Dal-Tile’s main operational system, the mainframe-based order processing is used by employees to enter, track and fulfill orders from approximately 200 sales warehouses, 70 distributors and multiple home center customers throughout the United States.
e-store In April 1999, Dal-Tile began an initiative — nicknamed mission impossible within the e-commerce team — to extend the ERP system’s functionality by putting real-time direct order entry in the hands of its distributors via a website. Tight integration between Dal-Tile’s ERP back end and its e-commerce front end were key, so the IT department evaluated several e-commerce applications before deciding on American Software’s e-store solution, which runs on Compaq ProLiant 8500 Microsoft Windows NT-based servers.
The functionality went live for the 70 distributors in April 2000. Now, when our distributors place an order on our site, they get a confirmation right away, and can immediately go to the order status area to view that order, Behgam says. It’s instantaneous.
He adds that American Software’s solution has more going for it than just good integration with Dal-Tile’s ERP system. Another important factor is our commitment to XML-based architecture, Behgam explains. XML (extensible markup language) is becoming popular for exchanging data between business partners. The XML implementation provides a gateway for us to extend our ERP system to all kinds of other B2B relationships, such as marketing and product ordering, over the Internet, he notes.
He also takes a strategic view of the hardware platforms. We choose the platform that best suits the task, Behgam explains. For ERP, we need the centralized control and stability of a mainframe. For web applications, the flexibility of a distributed environment with NT-based servers is very attractive.
HENRY BEHGAM web-enabled his company’s ERP system so that business customers could have immediate access to their order status. The bottom line is that Dal-Tile’s distributors can now check pricing, confirm availability, place orders and track delivery schedules online. As an added bonus, the e-commerce project was accomplished for far less than the seven-figure price tags that are associated with many large e-commerce implementations.
In addition, the system is a hit with distributors. When we showed the system to them at our national sales meeting, they tried it for themselves and were very enthusiastic, Behgam recalls. They even checked the status of their orders from their hotel that night.
Such online customer self-service also frees Dal-Tile’s sales staff to focus on selling — rather than revenue-neutral tasks such as checking inventories or ship dates. And, by automating the entry of orders into the ERP system, Dal-Tile’s e-commerce solution has also eliminated a potential source of clerical errors. Most companies won’t disclose these error rates, but anecdotal evidence suggests that eliminating re-keying errors can reduce merchandise returns up to 25 percent.
Many companies are investing in upgrading the appearance and pizzazz of their corporate websites,” points out Henry Behgam, who manages marketing, supply chain planning and e-commerce applications at Dal-Tile International, a Dallas-based manufacturer and distributor of ceramic tile. “We’re doing that. But, more importantly, we believe the main opportunity is to achieve real-time integration of e-commerce with our ERP system.” It’s a timely idea: Put serious operational muscle behind company websites and squeeze additional business advantage from ERP deployments.