Daiwa Case Study

Daiwa's 2-person IT staff becomes internally productive with m-Power


Case Study Summary

Challenge

Daiwa's 2-person IT staff didn't have the time or resources to fix some urgent problems, and hiring outside consultants wasn't an option. Somehow, they needed to complete these projects quickly, and do everything with their current staff.

Solution

Daiwa began searching for software that would allow for rapid development, and also let them get up and running quickly. When they found m-Power, they soon realized that it not only had the shortest learning curve, it also provided the fastest development. m-Power would let them be internally productive with their current staff, without relying on outside consultants.

Value

They used m-Power to quickly fix the urgent problems, which has made life much easier for Daiwa's staff. Now, they're using m-Power to handle all sorts of additional projects. Most importantly, they have a tool that allows for internal productivity, even with a small IT staff. According to Paul Scyner, Daiwa's IT manager: "Future projects should take days or sometimes up to a week or two, but never months."


Full Case Study

Overview

Daiwa group are part of the Globeride Inc. group; the world's largest manufacturer of fishing tackle. Since 1958, the Japanese company's culture is driven by design, innovation and high quality.

Challenge

Daiwa's 2-person IT staff was in a tough spot. They didn't have the time or resources to complete some urgent projects, and hiring outside consultants was prohibitively expensive. Specifically, they needed to find a way to fix these two problems:

1. Their order entry system hurt productivity and couldn't be maintained

Daiwa's Access-based order entry system needed replacing for a couple of reasons. First, it was very manual. Staff had to refresh the local Access database on their computers for any changes made the previous day. They also had to input every order into the system manually, which was an inefficient use of their time. Secondly, the company who developed their order entry system no longer supported the software. This meant that Daiwa couldn't maintain their own order entry system. More importantly, this meant that the system was falling more and more out of step with their business every day.

2. Their green screen interface wasted time

Daiwa's internal systems were in dire need of modernization. Their 5250 (green screen) interface running over their BPCS ERP system was inefficient and very user-unfriendly. Even answering simple customer inquiries--such as stock availability--was a complicated process with their green screen interface.

Daiwa knew that in order to complete these projects in-house, they needed a software tool to assist them. Before they began their search, they quickly mapped out a few requirements: The software tool must have a short learning curve, allow for rapid development, and let them be "internally productive." In short, Daiwa wanted a tool that would let them fix these problems quickly, without depending on outside consultants.

Solution

"Something that takes days with m-Power, would easily take weeks using EGL."

Daiwa found many solutions that seemingly offered what they needed, but most fell short upon an in-depth review. Some tools would've required reliance on the vendor's consulting services, while others didn't quite live up to their claims. For example, IBM's EGL claimed to fit Daiwa's requirements, but they soon realized that EGL's learning curve was much longer than they had anticipated. Additionally, EGL wouldn't allow them to create applications as quickly as they hoped.

Then, they found m-Power, a development platform created by michaels, ross & cole, ltd. (mrc). After doing their research, it was clear that m-Power was the right choice, for multiple reasons:

  1. Short learning curve: Being productive with m-Power only required a few days of training. According to Paul Scyner, Daiwa's IT manager, "m-Power can be used by anyone who can use a browser and understands a little about databases. You do not need to be a heavy-duty programmer."
  2. Allowed for internal productivity: One of Daiwa's main goals was internal productivity - enabling their current staff to deliver solutions without relying on outside consultants.
  3. Rapid development: Out of all the options they considered, m-Power allowed for the fastest development. In Scyner's words, "Something that takes days with m-Power, would easily take weeks using EGL."
  4. Let them accomplish multiple goals: m-Power let them complete many different projects, besides the modernization and order entry projects. According to Scyner, "It could create our order entry application, provide our business intelligence, create an on-line portal, and solve workflow requirements. All of this in the hands of our existing 2-person IT team."

Value

"[mrc's] service is fantastic. I've never known a company this efficient. It is the complete opposite of every other company we've dealt with."

Daiwa licensed m-Power, and immediately replaced their old Access-based order entry system. The results have been great: The new order entry system has greatly improved the ordering process, which makes life easier for their administrative staff. They save time on data entry, and have access to live data without having to run database refreshes on their computer every day.

They even modernized their 5250 interface, which improved customer service. According to Scyner, "We can respond with information much more quickly now. We have all the info we want on one screen. Previously staff had to go through many screens to answer customer requests about items and stock availability. To choose the right item and order it used to take ages, whereas now it takes just a few clicks." The learning curve for new staff members is greatly shortened as most people know how to use a browser, but not many have seen a 5250 interface before.

Besides the applications they created with m-Power, Daiwa also experienced a few other important benefits:

They are internally productive

m-Power let Daiwa's staff get up and running in just a few days, and quickly develop all the applications they need. In fact, they completed the order-entry project in only two weeks with m-Power. Most importantly, m-Power gives Daiwa's 2-person IT staff the ability to deliver solutions without the hassle, expense and time-delays of employing outside consultants for their various development projects.

They are using m-Power for many projects

While Daiwa initially purchased m-Power to fix two specific problems, they are also using it for a wide range of projects. Besides the initial order entry and modernization projects, they've also created a fixed asset database application, and have big plans for more. For example, here are a few of the projects on the horizon:

  • Replace their customer portal
  • Create dashboards and BI applications
  • Create staff portals
  • Create master file creation workflow applications
  • Create a European product ordering system, to consolidate orders across Europe in order to place them with manufacturers in the Far East.
Daiwa isn't tied to one vendor

Before m-Power, Daiwa couldn't maintain their order entry system because the company that developed it no longer supported it. With m-Power, they never have to worry about that problem ever again. m-Power apps are built on open architecture, which means Daiwa isn't tied to one vendor. Since m-Power-generated applications are built on open-source code and frameworks, the applications are easily maintainable by any developer familiar with Java. Daiwa can use and maintain their m-Power generated apps, with or without mrc.

Great support and frequent upgrades

Daiwa has also been very pleased with the support provided by mrc. When asked to rate the service, Scyner says, "10 out of 10. The service is fantastic. I've never known a company this efficient. It is the complete opposite of every other company we've dealt with. They are top notch, their staff know their stuff and where necessary promise to find out answers and then get back to you extremely quickly."

Additionally, Daiwa enjoys m-Power's unique enhancement schedule. Unlike most software, m-Power doesn't have versions. Rather, it's constantly being enhanced with new capabilities (about 1-2 per month), all of which are freely available to m-Power customers. In fact, in the 14 months since Daiwa purchased m-Power, it has already been upgraded with 26 major enhancements. Some of the recent enhancements include:

  • Mobile apps: m-Power was upgraded to let users automatically create smartphone and tablet versions of their web apps.
  • m-Power Project Exchange: mrc created an area for users to share custom templates, and pre-populated it with a variety of new templates. These templates let users create brand new types of applications.
  • Web-based pivot tables: m-Power was upgraded to let users create web-based pivot tables.
  • Many more...

Future

"Future projects should take days or sometimes up to a week or two, but never months."

Going forward, Daiwa knows that they have a tool to increase their internal productivity long into the future. Even with a 2-person IT staff, Scyner estimates, "Future projects should take days or sometimes up to a week or two, but never months."

Overall, Daiwa finally has a solution that does everything they need, but also fits the most important requirement: m-Power lets their small IT staff accomplish projects quickly, without relying on outside consultants or vendors. But, best of all, they don't have to worry about being stuck with unmaintainable software ever again.

To learn more about Daiwa, you can visit their Web site at: www.daiwasports.co.uk

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