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July-August 2002


Internet Integration
Why This is Crucial to Manufacturers’ Success
by jim naas

As individuals, we are involved with the Internet every day—whether it’s on our home browser or our company’s e-mail system. But what does the Internet mean to us as window and door manufacturers? In the past decade, we were told of the “New Economy” that would shift our business paradigm to something new, different and profitable. But the realization of that paradigm shift never resulted in a “New Economy” per se, but rather in the evolution and coming maturation of a new and cost-effective means of inter-business communication. The past brought us the mail system, the telephone, the facsimile and later the leveraging of EDI as a means of inter-business communication. Today we can leverage the Internet as a low-cost and highly efficient means of communication.

Achieving Integration
But communication is one thing and integration of the Internet with the manufacturer’s ERP business system is something entirely different. The manufacturer can take advantage of the Internet not only to allow its customers and outside representatives to check on the status of a customer’s order. The manufacturer can further leverage the Internet to extend the process of quoting and ordering to the customers themselves. What is achieved by this? Tighter linkage of your customer to your business and reduced order cycle time from quote to shipment, resulting in increased inventory turns and reduced overall costs. Coupled with enhanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM), fully integrating your business with its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is one of our major business objectives.

Manufacturers who achieve this integration can not only expect point-in-time status of customers’ orders and credit position, but also full on-line ordering for both standard and custom window and door product. This capability should not require duplication of manufacturing and pricing information, but, rather, it should leverage the manufacturer’s investment in its ERP pricing and manufacturing 

The Internet serves as a mechanism for communicating your company’s capabilities to the outside world, including your present customer base and your potential base of customers, which includes architects and builders. Remember that the Internet is another communication channel between you and your customers. It should be leveraged within the framework of your integrated ERP system. 

Jim Naas serves as strategic product director for Friedman Corp., based in Deerfield, Ill.

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