Achieve Continuous Improvement with Mobile Enterprise Integration

All businesses build their own base of knowledge, pass down their policies and document them in some form. Policies are documented in a network folder and then typically in a three-ring binder on a shelf in each office, and that’s where they stay, gathering dust. Employees are expected to remember what is written in those business policies and procedures and they’re supposed to do each one perfectly, from memory, every time.

With Mobile Enterprise Integration (MEI), the expectations required by business policies are built into the logical, natural flow of the system. This way policies are automatically enforced - for example, never paying a supplier until after the received material successfully passes incoming quality control.  Now with MEI on mobile or browser you can automatically enforce your business policies and have simple coordination of your business procedures.

Automated Coordination

A business procedure, such as adding a new customer, involves multiple different departments and individuals in the process. There are some actions that have prerequisites, and there are some that can happen in parallel. Right now all those procedures are coordinated on an ad hoc basis through emails, a messaging system such as Slack, or in meetings. Staff spend so much time in meetings because the only way all these complex activities are coordinated is by everyone in the same room reviewing all the new cases about, for example, making a product change. Almost every company that includes a manufacturing process will have at least weekly engineering change meetings.

There’s no need for those meetings when you can automatically coordinate those complex business activities, including attachments of notes and documents that are needed for adequate communication. The last person in the sequence on an engineering change management process doesn’t need to be involved in all of the preceding meetings. They only need to be involved when it’s their turn to evaluate the documentation, ask any questions via their communication medium, and then make their decision to approve or raise an issue for resolution. In this way it becomes a much more efficient, effective, well-documented, and well-coordinated manner of managing each one individual instance of a complex business activity.

“Business event data” for visibility and control of critical business functions

Each entry of a new customer is its own unique instance of the workflow. By using Mobile Enterprise Integration (MEI) with this complex activity involving different departments and individuals, not only will it be managed better, be more efficient, and more timely, but in the process we also create an entirely new category of data that is informative about company operations: business event data.

Businesses already collect plenty of data about the dollars and cents of transactions and around the inventory units of transactions, but until now they have not had access to business process events. MEI generates a treasure trove of data about the way the business is actually operating. This enables analysis of business process history, e.g. rolling three months performance of the New Customer Workflow.  If the target is for this to take no more than three days, but 20% of these New Customer Workflows took two weeks - what’s going on there? And now we get into root cause analysis and a continuous improvement process.  With MEI this new dimension of event data informs management in new ways about what’s going on. What do we need to do to improve our business and to better serve our customers?  The value of MEI is not simply in making complex activities more efficient and timely, but Mobile Enterprise Integration also gives the company a new resource of valuable data that hasn’t existed before. With this added analysis of essential processes, the business now has a new resource for continuous improvement.

Cross-Platform Integration

Mobile Enterprise Integration is not just focused on policy enforcement and complex activity management for one single application. MEI uses Intelligent Connectors to integrate with other platforms and applications in real time.  For example, there may be an engineer working in a specialized application on a platform that’s completely separate from the primary business application. The Intelligent Connectors can have direct integration with that discrete application, regardless of the platform it’s on. When that engineer changes the status of a particular part, we are aware of that event and any relevant information can be automatically passed into our MEI engine.

Putting the “Mobile” into Enterprise Integration

In addition to MEI’s automated coordination of essential activities and integration across platforms, MEI provides system access and interaction from any mobile device or browser.  A Credit Manager who is a participant in a Credit Review Workflow can perform the requisite analysis and provide a timely decision from anywhere.  A Sales Rep can have a true role-based user experience providing secure interaction with all the relevant applications from one common HTML5 UI, with single sign-on and all logic automatically applied.  For example - if a new Quote is greater than $1,000 then create that new Opportunity in the CRM application – done automatically by MEI in serial with entering the new Quote in the core system after the Sales Rep presses submit on their tablet, PC or other device.  

Conclusion

In the current forward-facing business environment, essential activities need to include customers, suppliers, executives, engineers and others who may not be users of a company's core system.  Mobile Enterprise Integration enables all participants in business activities to get the subset of data they need, and transactional interactions as appropriate, with trusted connections into the secure network and with both license legitimacy and menu security enforced.

Digital Transformation specialists at leading analyst firms have stated following demos and discussions that ProStar Software’s Mobile Enterprise Integration is unique in the market in its ability to fully integrate multiple business applications and platforms, with business logic applied, workflow controls and appropriate security, into one common role-based HTML5 user experience.  MEI is the future of business.

Whether it’s through increasing visibility and coordination of your business’s complex high-value activities or improving team productivity from wherever they are, MEI provides new capabilities through our integrated suite of applications that enable better ways for your business to function.  Contact info@prostarsoftware.com today to find how you can take your business into new dimensions of capabilities and controls through continuous improvement, increasing system effectiveness and mobile/browser interaction by all participants that are all available through Mobile Enterprise Integration from ProStar Software.

Your IT System Should Be A Castle

Build a better fit between your business systems and your business needs.

Let’s imagine our core commercial business application as a fort, a robust but blocky structure designed to provide generic benefits to many different types of businesses.   Now think of the ways that your business is anything but generic, and is, in fact, unique.  The attributes of your business are comparable to the complex architectural elements of a castle: Towers, turrets, crenelations, keeps and grand halls combine to create a complex structure with functions that support the unique needs of both the residents and the broader community.  How do you make the blocky fort of the core business system into the architecturally diverse castle that includes your business’s unique attributes?

A guiding principle for CIOs, and for the executive team and organization that they serve, is that the IT system needs to support the business’s requirements in every way possible. The most effective systems accurately manifest the business itself.  Optimal systems look, behave and evolve as a comprehensive virtual representation of the dynamic business, and are progressively easier to use.  

Business requirements that may not be met by the current business system include both must-have functionalities and high ROI functions with strategic advantages or operational benefits that avoid the eroding of profits through unnecessary inefficiencies.  In today’s business environment, even customers and suppliers have the expectation of access to relevant information and secure interaction.

TailorPro from ProStar Software can remodel the architecture of your business applications environment, e.g. QAD (™) and your other systems, from a generic fort to your business castle, without customizing source code or schema of those applications. TailorPro does this by:

  • Integrating new logic, data and functionality into the natural flow of those applications
  • Adapting behaviors, rules, and user experience
  • Establishing intelligent connections between other platforms and applications that your business uses
  • Automatically coordinating all participants in key processes
  • Automatically enforcing business policies
  • Enabling interaction with systems from any mobile device or browser

What essential functionality does your business not currently get from your business system?  Would the business executives and owners prefer that you integrate those high-value capabilities to meet unique business needs into your established IT system, with no customization and with rapid ROI?   Yes!

Because the IT system with its disparate applications, platforms, and networking is effectively a virtual representation of the business, there is measurable improvement in business metrics each time the CIO’s team makes the IT system look and behave more like the business itself.  Today, with no customization to source code or schema, you can add the enhanced architectural elements of your unique business “castle” to the generic structure of the commercial business applications “fort”.  Enable your business system to function the way the business functions; not only for simplicity and ease of use but to have all the current (and future!) functionality that is needed for your business operations and by your teams, your customers and your suppliers.  Your IT system should be, and can be, a castle, including all of your business’s bona fide requirements integrated with the fort-like core business application.

Envision the ways your IT system’s virtual representation of your business can be made more comprehensive and accurate,  Start planning your remodeling from the generic fort to your beautiful business castle by contacting ProStar Software at info@prostarsoftware.com. This first step can lead to lasting positive effects for your organization, from operational benefits to strategic advantages, and there is no charge for the initial consultation. Our TailorPro architects are ready to help you begin your needs assessment and solutions design today!

5 Reasons CCI Matters to QAD OnDemand Users

(CCI) Credit Card Integration is an application developed to provide PCI-DSS compliant transaction capabilities to any QAD system. We're extremely proud of the functionality of this application, and love to demo it to any OnDemand user, any time!  Here are just a few of the reasons to start using CCI:

1) Protect your data: It seems obvious, but that does not mean it isn't valuable, and it is definitely worth doing. Protecting sensitive business and transaction data is one of the top concerns of companies worldwide. PCI-DSS is a design framework that when followed correctly, increases your security.

2) Comply with regulation: All users of QAD's OnDemand system, card lockedwho process credit card transactions, are legally bound to meet the requirements set out by PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). By using ProStar's CCI (Credit Card Integration) your company will meet the necessary requirements for their business operations, without having to learn all of the details of PCI-DSS.

3) Protect partner and/or customer data: Your suppliers, partners, and customers expect their data to be managed securely. By implementing CCI you can provide the security they deserve, and increase trust in your business relationships.

pci-dss-tag-cloud

4) Have a clear audit trail: The data security standards are complex, and take time to learn and to get right. With CCI we can help you get it right from the first transaction onward!

5) For processing payment transactions, QAD's answer is simply, CCI: For all QAD OnDemand users, the parent company for your platform recognizes the value that CCI delivers, so much so there is no other payments transaction application that QAD suggests.

Interview with Jeff Leinwand, CTO

We are very pleased to welcome Jeff Leinwand to the blog this week, in an interview as ProStar Software's new CTO. We've asked a few questions and had a great conversation that is definitely worth sharing, so, here's introducing Jeff in his own words:

ProStar: We'll get to work in a bit, but let's start with how you like to relax. I'm curious, for example after a long week, what's your favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon?

Jeff: Saturday is for outdoor activities. In my younger days it was team sports changing to golf and tennis as I got older. Once kids came along it moved on to their soccer and little league baseball with an occasional basketball league thrown in. Now that kids are grown it is back to outdoor activities, with the grandkids when possible.

ProStar: That sounds like a great way to spend the weekend. With your many years in the enterprise software business I imagine you've done a fair share of traveling. Is there anything you absolutely don't leave home without?

Jeff: Yes, just a few things. I never leave home on a long trip without smart phone and computer. Everything else can be replaced (except my wife, so if not on business I never leave without her but computer and phone are also brought along).

ProStar: That seems very reasonable! I wonder, on a more philosophical note, if you can describe for our readers a lesson or insight that informs your work?

Jeff: Consider the end user when building software. Too often brilliant technical solutions are wasted because the target audience doesn't understand how to use the solution. Not only don't we know what we don't know, we don't know what the end user doesn't know. Success for a system, no matter how complex it is, lies in the simplicity of its use. As software engineers we need to learn from auto manufacturers. Cars are very complex machines but the general user interface to drive a car is very simple even though the user doesn't understand the systems that make up the car. If you look at the biggest complaint of car owners it seems to be with the new technology for entertainment, navigation and syncing up phones, none of which has anything to do with the driving the car. The software guys still haven't learned from the hardware guys.

ProStar: That reminds me of KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid! Our users are definitely lucky to have your down to earth perspective on that. I imagine that's something you've learned alongside a host of other useful knowledge, but maybe you can you give us just a brief list of some professional skills you've found most useful in your career?

Jeff: Sure thing. Computer languages I've used the most include C#, Progress, JavaScript, Python, COBOL, FORTRAN (yup, those age me). There are a few others that I am going to choose not to mention because knowledge of their existence really makes me ancient. I have built systems using HTML5 and .NET, beginning with the beta version of .NET in 2000. And, database experience includes SQL Server, Progress, MongoDB and other open source databases.

ProStar: And how did you aquire all those skills? Which of your career moves have been most important setting you up for the CTO role here with us?

Jeff: As an accounting major (MBA) with a computer science technical option I started my career developing a commercial General Ledger system for Burroughs Corporation (now Unisys). Went to work for a major accounting firm doing consulting and EDP audits. Spent several years at a manufacturing company, first as a Systems and Programming Manger, then as IT Manager, finally moving into manufacturing where I ran the new product line (purchasing, manufacturing engineering, production and quality). Moving on to QAD, my role in charge of the Strategic Consultants, Custom Programming Group and Technical Support Group was very informative. As VP of Product Development with Strategic Information Group I did LEAN Manufacturing as well as QAD consulting. And then, I founded Sabino Creek with another former QAD/SIG person, and that really paved the way, we did custom software and international ERP partnerships.

ProStar: So, Jeff, to the heart of the matter. What are you most looking forward to in your work here?

Jeff: There is nothing more rewarding than creating product. Having spent a great deal of time on the production floor I know first hand how many employees take pride in their work and become frustrated when they have ideas to improve the product but management won't listen. I have also seen workers who were detached from their product and observed the resulting lack of quality. I have seen too many managers operating without the proper information and/or training to create the efficiencies required to compete in today's world. Finally, I have been both a provider of systems and information and a consumer of those systems and information. so I am well positioned to understand the technology required to deliver information and understand the needs of the person receiving and using the information.

I want to enable organizations, that is, ProStar as well as our customers, to use tools that will help achieve goals, improve products, improve work environment, quality, and bottom line.

ProStar: Jeff, this was wonderful. Thank you very much, and welcome on board!

Mobile Enterprise Integration (MEI) Introduced to Progress Software Community

Boston, MA. Oct 7-8, 2013. Exchange 2013 Worldwide Annual Conference

As a Progress Application Partner, ProStar Software is very pleased to be presenting this year on benefits and uses of our Mobile Enterprise Integration (MEI). MEI is an Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS); MEI automates coordination of your essential business systems and functions, from any browser and any mobile device.

What does MEI mean?

MEI means, seamless connection of all the steps from all the people in the right order at the right time. For example, in a purchasing scenario, from quote to request to approval to order, no more emails are needed.

MEI means, no more awkward transfer between your sales lead pipeline in Salesforce.com to orders in QAD to your customer service interface, you can take care of it all on your phone and information is automatically sent to the people who need it.

MEI means, your ERP specific rules are easily applied and integrated with your current systems and functions.

MEI means, simply, improved productivity.

What does MEI include?

  • Integration Platform:

MEI is currently integrated with: Progress/OpenEdge applications, Salesforce.com, SAP, Oracle, SQL Server, Sharepoint, QAD, .NET and we are happy to do customized integrations specific to your business and on additional systems.

  • Workflow:

Connect all participants in your business processes, from customers to employees to suppliers. Our workflow functions meet the industry standard: BPMN v2.0.

  • Complex Event Processors:

Our context-sensitive rules use your existing business logic to define notification, timing, and relevance as appropriate for your company.

  • Mobile:

Your current applications and business systems can now be accessed on any mobile device, and on any browser.

For any company that wasn't at Exchange 2013, or if you didn't get your free demo in Boston, contact us to find out how MEI can mobilize your business.

And for anyone at any business looking to improve essential business functions: Read more about MEI here.

ProStar Software is a proud Progress App Partner
ProStar Software is a proud Progress App Partner