ZIFFPAGE TITLEMoving to a Central
Database"> The biggest boon for Blue Stuff turned out to be going to one central database with all its data. One database meant the company didnt have to wait for information. "We wouldnt have to wait for 15 days from months end to close to get account data," said Grow. "Now we run our reports daily. We run reconciliation daily. We have information we can use on a timely basis. I can look at my inventorywhere I am at that dayrather than having to wait a week, in some cases, for a lag in inventory. These are all key elements in business. Were very, very close to knowing where we are on a daily basis."The new system also helps Blue Stuff accommodate national retailers requirements for trading documents using EDI (electronic data interchange). "A majority of them have different requirements; EDI is a very broad term," said Grow. "We customize through each national retailer. ... They may send in one format and want a layout in a completely different way. So you have to have their specifications of exactly how they want [data], or theyre not going to accept the orders." While Blue Stuff accomplished much of the integration work with national retailers internally, ePartners helped provide a good understanding of Microsofts SQL Server database. "It wouldnt have been possible if they hadnt helped us with SQL, and the learning process of integrating [a third party]," said Grow. "Now, with the national retailers coming in with their orders, it gives us a good feel of comparing where we are and gauging the required inventory we need, and we can trend from there." What ePartners brought to the table was the ability for Blue Stuff to present its information to third parties using XML, which in turn provides a comprehensive view of the sales order process and decreased order processing time. Since the implementation, Blue Stuff has decreased its order processing time by 25 percent, which, according to Duffy, is huge, considering that when a company is dependent on efficient sales order processing, the efficiency of that process is the difference between making and not making money. "Its one of the best ways of telling a customer they are being taken care of," said Duffy. Blue Stuff is equally excited about the work it has accomplished with ePartners. "Weve really done kind of a special little thing here," said Grow. "All the things weve had to handle with ePartners, its state of the art for a company thats only 4 years old."
With the implementation of Great Plains software, Blue Stuff is now able to break information down by vertical-market category, which helps the company identify what products to target for marketing and which items provide a good return on investment. The implementation also reduces redundant data entry and enables Blue Stuff to gather information in real time versus a month later.