TIP - Total Integrated Planning®

- Medium-sized ERP-business concept for intersite processes -
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Introduction:
ERP concepts safeguarding the future should nowadays be based on an innovative technology of great versatility so that tasks common in the modern e-business environment such as the integration of customer communication between different sites, the connection of suppliers and comprehensive document management of companies can be realized and updated to meet the latest requirements without additional effort. According to META Group an integrated software solution combined with a comprehensive consulting approach will in future form the basis of such concepts for the European medium-sized business. This knowledge provided is used as a consistent basis for the development and marketing concepts of the fully integrated ERP / SCM / CRM / DMS / workflow concept CANIAS of Application Software GmbH in Karlsruhe.

TIP–Total Integrated Planning®
- Medium-sized business concept for intersite processes -

For large organisations it has always been the extensive consulting project for supply chain management, enterprise application integration (EAI) or even web services which was supposed to manage the interaction of software products within a mixed heterogeneous system landscape. Web portals, too, have been justified by the demand for comprehensive company co-ordination of e. g. warm-up or logistics processes. These are as a rule projects of a considerable complexity and can at present only be implemented point-to-point due to, for instance, their lack of real-time capability or unresolved security standards of Internet services. Such activities are at any rate beyond the means of most companies (98 % in Germany) classified as medium-sized by the European Commission.

Consultants of medium-sized networks (networks of company structures with less than 150 users per location) are gradually coming to the conclusion that the approach should not start with the combination and integration of different special top-of-the-range programs (best of breed) but with 80/20 solutions in accordance with a fully integrated concept offering customization.

But what are the parameters required for a total concept such as TIP-Total Integrated Planning® for the medium-sized business to enfold its full effectiveness? Industrial Application Software GmbH has defined five criteria for the success of such a “c”-business model:


· Connectivity
· Collaboration
· Channels
· Competence
· Complete installations


Connectivity – Participation for everybody

The first and considerable hurdle on the path to an integrated medium-sized business solution is the fact that all participants in the process must have not more and not less than one access to the platforms. This requirement applies to the following user groups:

· In-house users
· Branch users
· Field workers
· Suppliers
· Sales partners
· Customers
· Anonymous Internet users (Internet presence)

Due to the cost involved, it does not take long in practice before it becomes obvious that the hardwiring of system accesses is at best suitable for the linking of large branches and important suppliers, not however, for any of the other single users or mini user groups described above. For this reason a solution accessible to all these participants requires a technological design that allows the direct use of the Internet as access medium.

Since 1997 Industrial Application Software has been applying JAVA technologies at this particular point. This enables all peripheral equipment with access to the Internet and the possibility of executing JAVA code to make use of the entire software packet. Due to the extremely efficient program techniques Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), Remote Method Invocation (RMI) and a highly refined cache philosophy the use of CANIAS online is even supported on peripheral equipment with wireless connection to the Internet. First experiences with 4 channel GSM trunking in accordance with the HSCSD standard have already been gathered. Future broadband mobile net architectures of whatever kind, such as UMTS, will definitely gain in importance.



- Collaboration -
Tools for process integration

In addition to the requirement that all potential user groups are provided with access, the concept of the TIP-TOTAL INTEGRATED PLANNING® contrary to the classic ERP solution will have to make extended functionality available. Essential functions of the so-called advanced ERP systems are an integrated solution for contact management, document management and the management of the supply chain.

By now, voices can be heard not only from ERP suppliers but also CRM specialist circles that the interaction between ERP and CRM solutions has to be a priority if they are supposed to be able to offer process support as an integrated tool of a database. The component of the operative CRM in particular is not feasible without complete integration. For supply chain management these processes are additionally coordinated beyond the limits of the company. The SCM approach of Industrial Application Software GmbH is striving to optimize the entire value added chain by integrating all processes with the partners of the logistics chain in order to minimize these processes. TIP-Total Integrated Planning® is creating process-detailed solutions that go beyond the company limits and enables comprehensive company optimization of resources in order to satisfy current and future requirements of the end customer.

The interaction of all companies and sectors participating in the value added chain is made considerably easier. CANIAS improves – in particular by providing instant flow of information between participants and the utilization of centrally managed data - transparency in the logistics chain, enables fast plan adaptation, excellent capacity utilization and speed of response despite minimal stock. In addition to this, companies can create more transparent commercial processes for the customers and suppliers. The necessary standards of security are of course taken into consideration at all times. To a linked supplier this means not only the viewing of stock items to be delivered but also the receiving of information about future planned orders, even of orders that include his components with a high chance of being awarded. All options are at a disposal in order to make arrangements in good time. The actual order processing is then activated within the system or via XML/EDI connectors by simply pressing a button. SCM-Connect also allows the setup of substitutes and the update of basic agreements by suppliers. Changes can be updated at ease and kept until they need to be activated at the relevant date.

Another functionality – judged by the META GROUP as a driving force of e-business applications – is the possibility of a considerable increase of customer linking and service through online ordering of spare parts, while at the same time processing costs are tremendously lowered.

- Channels – group specific access paths and rights

In connection with the concepts of TIP all functions which an in-house user on site is entitled to, can and should be made available on demand (homeworkers) worldwide; this, however, is not desirable for all described user groups and is economically not feasible. For this reason TIP distinguishes for the remote access between:

· the personalized full access in accordance with the definition of an ASP user

· the supply chain user for the personalized access of suppliers and customers

· the option to make information available to an anonymous Internet user.

First of all, the full access via ASP would be an option for the remote use of all functions cleared for an in-house user. This access path via user name and password is encrypted with the help of SSL technology. In this case the user, after login, not only finds his personal menu structure with his personal rights of action but also all previous user-specific entries in search masks or mask conversions reloaded as SET GET parameters when these are called up by a remote client. In addition to this, the user can use the Client to display and print documents at the current local resources.

In contrast to the full user, the SCM user is, after login, only able to use data and transactions in connection with his customer or supplier number. He can not only gain reading but also writing access to the system, e. g. he can enter price, amount or date changes in orders or make bookings. What is not possible is to follow links into the total functionality of the system or to carry out administrative changes. The user-specific option can not only be used to inform customers about their current order status, to give sales partners access to warehouses for ready-made goods but also to inform suppliers about items to be delivered simply by allowing access via a normal modem/ISDN access or even mobile via a card phone. We are here not talking about a small information excerpt as in web front end applications. Any information in the database, down to its desired depth is available on demand.


It is the opinion of the IAS that apart from these two different intensities which allow a worldwide personalized access to the system, a third aspect needs to be taken into consideration that at a first glance seems to belong more to the system-independent Internet presence. After all, the visitors of normal company websites repeatedly require information that is already managed by their data background in the ERP system. At this point it does make little sense to manage these contents in a separate system for the Internet presence. It is much more efficient to generate documents in HTML or XML format from CANIAS and to make these automatically available for browsing. The HTML converter integrated in this concept deals exactly with this task. Whether price lists, sales partner addresses or, in the sector of spare part components, any information recorded and stored in the system can be presented as a website according to target group. For this the HTML converter uses the appropriate page format of the company website in question which, in form of a style sheet, controls the formatting of web contents in the system. This format pattern can also be used to automatically generate mailings.

- Complete Installations –
to get faster utilization

To utilize a more complex solution for operative processes in a target-focused and effective manner in the smaller medium-sized business, all sections of such an installation – no matter whether this applies to hardware, operating system, database, application, installation, conversion or introduction – should be coordinated.
A missing link in this chain would certainly delay the time of maximum efficiency or even hinder the overall success permanently. Quite often the selection of the wrong database, insufficient system training or the failure to adapt functions to the requirements of a particular company, spoils the success of a software introduction as the benefits for the user and the increase in productivity do not materialize. TIP in accordance with Total Solutions for Industrial Application Software means also, to demand the specification and testing of executable complete solutions which can be offered complete to the smaller business. The package solutions for 10, 20 or 30 simultaneous users do not only comprise a server and backup system, a USV, a service monitor, a pre-installed operating system, a database and, of course, a CANIAS but also advice, system adaptation and key user training. This results in considerable project simplifications and cost savings for 98 percent of businesses in Germany with less than 50 employees. The special and so far unique design ensures that only "one contract” has to be signed for the service/support of the complete solution after the introduction of the system and that the companies can get in touch with "a central service hotline” during the entire described installation process. IAS has made the experience that smaller medium-sized businesses are predominantly interested in a clear responsibility structure which prevents problems in cases where support is required.

- Competence –
solutions increase acceptance

The technological and functional basics have been described in the previous chapters. An integrated concept such as TIP, however, is also about finding acceptable solutions to the current demands and wishes of owners of medium-sized businesses on the basis of technology and functionality. We have frequently adopted certain aspects stressed by customers during our continuous discussions about intersite concepts and these have found access into the solutions portfolio of CANIAS and TIP. A good example originating from our consultation work is the concept of distributed database management (DDM).

Talks with interested parties and customers showed worries about the topic of data being exposed outside the company. Generally companies/departments are likely to be willing to use applications jointly with other departments and to exchange the required data in connection with this. They show, however, great concern when it comes to taking the entire data store to a server authority. Whether this is justified or not is in this context quite often not the sensible approach of a discussion. It is, after all, certainly possible to guarantee sufficiently high standards, even for remote operation, for many business models by the use of firewall, encryption and data saving. But why not meet these concerns with the offer of alternatives?

Industrial Application Software GmbH offers the customer a choice of locations for their data by using the concept of distributed database management in all projects. By operating via JDBC interfaces, the application CANIAS can not only directly and simultaneously address databases but can also access externally managed data stocks. This way, even customers wishing to use their application through ASP operation, are offered a variety of local data management and data saving options at the respective company site. Large amounts of data, too, such as large documentation, graphics, video sequences or CAD files can be additionally down-loaded within a website-based application from a local resource without causing traffic on the Internet. The configuration of this concept of distributed data management (DDM) can be individually customized – which means it makes a contribution to the improvement of ASP acceptance as well as being an important aspect of performance security of hosted DMS functionalities without the use of expensive fixed line concepts. To offer maximum use to the customer it is of course necessary to set up these concepts as separate projects. Access rights and access possibilities, localization and distribution of data stock require detailed evaluation and have a decisive influence on a DDM project. But this is exactly what makes a competent total concept such as TIP with CANIAS so powerful.

Conclusion:

According to a survey of the e-commerce magazine the following factors are critical for the success of ERP/SCM projects, particularly in the medium-sized business sector.

affordable purchase and operating costs
short implementation periods
small integration effort
high solution competence of supplier
knowledge of sector and understanding of processes
These are exactly the criteria which IAS can meet today unlike any other supplier, due to technological leadership, in-house project and consultation competence, high integration of all functions required by medium-sized businesses with CANIAS, and the integrated consultation concept of TIP – Total Integrated Planning -

Supplemented by complete solutions (comprising hardware, operating system, database, application, backup system and USV) - for which even during the operating phase only one service contract has to be signed and a central hotline is available – IAS has already done its homework for the, as specified by META GROUP, second elementary demand made by medium-sized companies, the so-called Plan-Build-Run service at an acceptable price and is again offering Total Integrated Solutions.

The author:

Gregor Goller (39) is Head of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships for Industrial Application Software GmbH since September 1, 2000. His responsibilities at IAS includes company communications in addition to apprehending the demands on company processes of tomorrow in order to secure solid strategic product positioning and to create an appropriate partner network for the support of these plans. E-mail: g.goller@iascon.de

Kontakt

Industrial Application Software GmbH
Kriegsstraße 100
D-76133 Karlsruhe
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