Philadelphia Scientifics’ current business process software system was implemented in the 1990s. The system had added value to the company at that time. Since then, however, Philadelphia Scientifics’ management practices have changed and production has evolved to Lean methodologies. At the same time, the company’s current software vendor has indicated that they would be discontinuing support of the database. Philadelphia Scientific leadership knew it was time to upgrade to a new business process software system.
Philadelphia Scientific Vice President-Finance Michael Carr headed the software upgrade initiative. Carr’s broad experience with technology and knowledge of solutions outside of traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems enabled him to establish a framework for evaluating a new system. According to Carr, “We knew there was no future in our current system and that we needed to make a change. But, before selecting a software system and vendor, we wanted to be sure about the ROI we would generate from our investment.”
Carr analyzed the company’s business process, and looked at where quality and functionality could be improved. He projected the dollar benefits of a new system, and saw clearly that the company could save money by implementing new software. “We had a list of items that we felt could be handled more cost effectively by taking human interaction out of the process,” he said. “These included things like order entry, vendor payments, customer invoicing and other manual tasks that could benefit from modern technology. Automating these functions alone could generate enough savings to pay for the new system.”
Carr’s overall objective was to find a software system that fit the company’s current and future business model. Philadelphia Scientific did not need the shop floor control and scheduling capabilities offered by Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) software. The company’s follows Lean manufacturing methods, including cellular factory design, minimum finished good inventory quantities and the use of Kanban cards. These methods are highly effective for Philadelphia Scientific and eliminate the need for master production scheduling and MRP tools. “Our business model focuses on same day shipping,” said Carr. “Between 75% – 80% of our orders for stock items ship same day. We don’t have a backlog, and wouldn’t find much value in a typical MRP system.”
Carr wanted a system primarily focused on enhancing customer interaction, with emphasis on customer-related activities such as contact management and promotional campaigns, easier processing of quoted, orders, field service “trouble ticket” processing and sales reporting. Linkage to an upgraded web site for B2B order processing was also desired. Carr’s goal was to create a straight line between the customer, order entry activities and fast shipping of orders.