Abacus Cards can count on AMSolve
Based in New Market, Suffolk, Abacus Cards produces a wide range of greeting cards and is one of the leading publishers in the UK.
Initially implementing Aspin’s handheld sales order capture application, MiniSell in 2003, Abacus was attracted to AMSolve by its reputation throughout the greeting cards industry and the inclusive range of industry specific features it offered. Abacus implemented AMSolve at the start of 2007.
Prior to installing AMSolve, Abacus had been using a number of disparate legacy systems to manage its business. A key advantage provided by AMSolve was that it centralised the majority of those processes, from accounts and display management, through to invoicing and management reporting, integrating the total despatch cycle and giving Abacus a greater degree of control over its business.
During the implementation of AMSolve the underlying application modules were fine-tuned by Aspin to meet Abacus’ specific operational requirements, and although this custom tuning process is never without some minor teething problems, the resulting system has significantly improved Abacus’ business processes in a number of areas.
AMSolve’s Bill of Materials module enables users to build a schedule of components relative to assembled products, which can then be used to produce a detailed and dynamic costing structure. Using the BOM module it is then possible to review both immediate and future production capability. The Bill of Materials module has enabled Abacus to cost jobs with more ease and applied accuracy.
Abacus has also benefited from AMSolve’s extensive display management module. Aspin has been providing display management systems within AMSolve for nearly 20 years. With this system Abacus can create and amend stock control grids, print tickets and generate sales orders. These process activities can then be subsequently analysed and reported on by AMSolve.
The Display Management module has helped to improve operations for Abacus in a number of ways as Diane Greening, Abacus’ finance & administration manager, explains: “We find that we use the ‘external reference’ field frequently. This field is designed for the customer to quote their own pocket and relative grid numbers – without affecting their position on Abacus’ AMSolve ‘virtual grid’. Specifically, this means that we have been able to condense and compress the number of grids per customer, making the total system much easier to use and manage – our previous display grid management system could not cater for this situation.”
Also included as part of Abacus’ AMSolve system is a data-link to their ‘managed’ warehouse provided by Set-in-Hand Ltd., located some 25 miles away. This data-link uses Aspin’s ORBIT communication software. ORBIT enables sales orders to be transmitted from AMSolve to a PC server located at the Set-in-Hand fulfilment warehouse where the relevant picking lists, despatch notes, tickets and labels are then printed.
Once a sales order has been picked, despatched and confirmed, these details are automatically updated by ORBIT, which sends a ‘completed orders’ file back to Abacus’ AMSolve system, thereby simultaneously confirming despatch and creating the relative sales invoices.
The ORBIT data-link with their fulfilment warehouse has enabled Abacus to improve overall despatch efficiency. Diane Greening comments: “AMSolve with ORBIT means that we know exactly what orders have been despatched on any given day, plus we can tell what is still outstanding to be packed on a daily basis.”
The implementation of the AMSolve system also provided a suitable opportunity to upgrade the Abacus sales force to the latest MiniSell 2 software. Abacus runs MiniSell on a variety of different Pocket PC devices, including the HP IPAQ, the ASUS MyPal and the Opticon H19A.
Diane Greening continued: “MiniSell makes orders easier to take, as the sales force scan the design codes rather than having to complete a hand-written order pad. It also makes the sales force immediately aware of any discontinued or out of stock designs, so they can offer a suitable alternative, with the customer’s involvement, when the order is placed.”
And as to how MiniSell has benefited the Sales Office: “We no longer have to key-in sales orders manually. The sales force’s daily orders are sent to us by MiniSell every evening, then the following morning we can just transmit the order picking notes to our warehouse for packing and despatch.”
Since this case study was published, Abacus have deployed PixSell iPad ordering to their sales reps on the road.