This White Paper is provided by Pricedex Software Inc. for the purposes of understanding and identifying 'gaps' in Business systems that can be addressed by Pricedex applications and tools. It is provided for information purposes only to the reader, and is intended to stimulate discussion as to identifying workflow gaps and bottlenecks that can be resolved using Pricedex solutions. Not all companies face exactly the same issues, nor do they operate with exactly the same workflows. Generally speaking, workflows are industry specific, and tend to vary even within similar industrial sectors, based upon business practices and the adoption of technology. The following 'Solution Vision' is a fact-based fictional compendium of issues identified within Pricedex' customer base, and the Pricedex solutions deployed. Solution Vision for Enterprise Product Data Management and Dissemination Pricedex™ Builder is an innovative database application designed to manage the complex relationships between product costs, prices, and a wide variety of related product information. Because Pricedex is database independent, the data results generated smoothly bolt into existing business systems and processes, without complex integration and custom code dependency. Pricedex is a premier Product Data Management solution, designed specifically to fill the gaps within business and marketing systems, and permits the elimination of redundant data input, while ensuring the integrity and synchronization of product information across the enterprise. With a Pricedex solution, corporations can now ensure that accurate and timely data is available to manufacturing, inventory, and order entry systems via the Pricedex Master Price database. In addition, the Master Price database can be utilized to significantly automate updates to product information for quotation and configuration systems, sales force automation applications, as well as catalog and price list publications. In summary, Pricedex becomes the central repository within an organization for all aspects of product information, including graphics management, and in doing so, generates a significant return on investment by: - Reducing and eliminating redundant and duplicated processes; - Ensuring accurate product information populates the various business systems, significantly reducing billing errors; - Eliminating costly and time consuming pre-press proofing and creative cycles for publications; - Accelerating the ‘time-to-market’ for new products and price changes. Pricedex™ is a Registered Trademark of Pricedex Software Inc. Microsoft Internet Explorer™ and Excel™ are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation Crystal Reports™ is a registered trademark of Seagate Software Inc. Impromptu™ is a registered trademark of Cognos, Incorporated. Problem Overview It is assumed that IT is implementing a new Business System solution within the division on a corporate Intranet, and is retiring the legacy system. This represents a significant change in the corporation’s business practices and processes. An Intranet solution provides for both a wide deployment without significant resource overhead implications, as well as secure, central, server-based business information. While IT is implementing an elegant, network solution for its business requirements, there are a significant number of important processes which have not been able to be incorporated within the business system solution, and are at risk of becoming ‘detached’ from the main business systems. One of the key applications on the legacy system is a COBOL based Pricing and Quotation system previously developed and presently maintained by IT. The new business system application does not provide the functionality of the home-grown pricing application, and after a process review which identifies the options of a custom code solution and an off-the-shelf solution to the problem, the integrator recommends that IT seek a third party solution to integrate with the new business system. Pricedex Software Inc. intends to address the identified gaps, in a Pricedex Builder solution designed to parallel the business Intranet solution. Key Identified Gaps - Supplier Costs The legacy system had a series of routines developed to import the various data sets of part costing from major suppliers. The procedures, and negotiations with suppliers' IT departments to establish data import mapping procedures was cumbersome. The new business system requires a complete set of new mapping procedures. A further complication is the fact that the legacy system stored all supplier parts, whether used in production or not. The corporation continues to require this data for custom production work, which occurs from time to time. The new business system is incapable of accomodating supplier part data without the assignment of a corporate part number. Our desired solution is to create a part number only when an order requiring such a part is processed, yet we need this information for quote and configuration purposes. This desired functionality will leave a significant gap when the legacy system is retired. - en Quoting The functionality provided by the legacy system, which is presently accessed by approximately 50 persons working in three different working sections, has an identified workaround within the new business system. This workaround, however, is perceived to be cumbersome, as it requires the creation of a ‘dummy’ order type, and the ‘dumping’ of the raw data into a quotation form for manual manipulation. The issue regarding this process revolves around the need to create part Pricedex™ is a Registered Trademark of Pricedex Software Inc. Microsoft Internet Explorer™ and Excel™ are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation Crystal Reports™ is a registered trademark of Seagate Software Inc. Impromptu™ is a registered trademark of Cognos, Incorporated. numbers, prices, etc. for quotation purposes within the business system, which is resource intensive. At present, there are an estimated 250 quotations daily, of which perhaps 10% would be converted to orders. This proposed workaround process would require the storage and maintenance of significant amounts of redundant data within the business system, and not provide the existing functionality of the legacy system. - Price Calculations Because corporate pricing does not necessarily have any direct correlation to Corporate Base Cost, the requirement to create a ‘pseudo’ BOM (Bill of Material) and manually calculate price adders for quotation purposes cannot be supported within the new business system. This identified functionality of the legacy system will not exist after its termination. - Tiered Pricing Two tiered pricing (unit/quantity pricing) lookups for the purposes of auto pricing are not supported by the new business system. This identified functionality of the legacy system will not exist after its termination. - Pricing Structure The existing Pricing Structure, which supports a tabular view (easily viewed columnar pricing) of tiered pricing, is not supported by the new business system. This identified functionality of the legacy system will not exist after its termination. - Commodities Pricing The desired functionality of queried lookups to establish the Monthly Base Price and Surcharge factor for commodities used in the assembly of customer orders (i.e. precious metals) is not supported by the new business system. This functionality is desirable to have to support both Order Entry and Invoicing. d Gaps Pricedex™ is a Registered Trademark of Pricedex Software Inc. Microsoft Internet Explorer™ and Excel™ are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation Crystal Reports™ is a registered trademark of Seagate Software Inc. Impromptu™ is a registered trademark of Cognos, Incorporated. Pricedex Solution Vision A solution Vision for IT Product Cost Administration (Supplier Cost Price List , Product Costing, Commodity Pricing, Product Information Maintenance) Pricedex Builder The vision would be to deploy a Client-Server version of the Pricedex Builder pricing engine to all parties responsible for the product costing (Finance) and product marketing (Product Manager) personnel. This would permit and satisfy the requirement for the central administration of base costing, and part numbering functions that have been identified within IT. Scripted procedures would be created to receive the existing Major Supplier cost files, and active parts would be 'tagged' for export to the new business system, in the required data mapping structure. Inactive parts could either be 'stripped' from the import, or 'warehoused' for future reference and lookup. Scripted procedures would be created to generate export data sets to a Microsoft SQL Server™ database (replacement for the legacy system Master Price Database). Scripted procedures would also be created to either retrieve commodity costing from an outside source (via Internet), or from an internal resource (via network), on a regular, batch basis, with the ability to query on demand. This functionality would satisfy the requirement for establishing both the monthly Commodity Base Cost, and the Commodity Surcharge for the quotation and order entry systems. A Solution Vision for Product Management and Product Pricing Pricing Administration (Quoting, Price Calculation, Tiered Pricing) Pricedex Explorer Web Utilizing the Master Price Database generated on Microsoft SQL Server, Pricedex Software Inc. envisages the development of a corporate Intranet-based ‘homepage’ that provides a browser-based lookup of all part costing and product information utilizing the Pricedex Explorer Web solution. This will enable authorized personnel to perform direct queries to an up-to-date base cost price list, for performing quotations. Two data sets would be available to end-users: The Master Cost Database, for performing lookups for new quotations and ‘pseudo BOMs’; and the Master Customer Database, which would provide users with all the relevant prices specific to customer contract pricing, including surcharges, tiered pricing, customer and corporate part numbers, etc. Web-based templates would be developed, as required, for ‘pseudo BOMs’ and for Quotation Forms, for use by the Customer Service Group representatives. Within the web pages, views can be easily configured to provide ‘spreadsheet like’ tables of pricing information to accommodate tiered pricing, etc. Users utilizing Microsoft Internet Explorer would be able to 'copy and paste' sections or all of the tables directly into spreadsheet and other Windows applications. Pricedex™ is a Registered Trademark of Pricedex Software Inc. Microsoft Internet Explorer™ and Excel™ are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation Crystal Reports™ is a registered trademark of Seagate Software Inc. Impromptu™ is a registered trademark of Cognos, Incorporated. In addition, utilizing the powerful reporting features of Pricedex Builder, spreadsheet reports can be created and made available for distribution by downloading from the corporate home page for other users. Lookups, searches and queries will be able to be performed by Customer/Contract name, Customer/Corporate Part Number, and Order Quantity. Result sets can be copied to Windows-based spreadsheets or word processors for further administrative purposes. Pricedex Explorer Desktop For further flexibility in the use of Pricedex-generated information, Pricedex Explorer Desktop is a powerful, windows-based tool that provides an ‘Explorer-like’ tree and folder view of an entire price book. Additionally, single or multiple searches can be performed across the price book, for individual or groups of parts, and the ensuing result set can be copied directly into Windows-based applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. The Explorer concept is an ideal means of distributing secure and accurate price data—to remote sites or users who do not have Intranet access; to customers; and to Customer Service Group personnel and other personnel who have need to manipulate the information. Using pre-configured settings and templates, Pricedex Explorer and the data can be distributed with pre-configured views, partial product information, and even price expiry date warnings. A Solution Vision for Marketing and Sales Master Price List/Price Book/Catalog Publication Pricedex Publishing Module It is understood that, at present, the corporation produces an Annual Price Book. Pricedex proposes to automate the pre-press processes of the Price Book, by integrating Pricedex-generated information with a database publishing engine. Given the variety of publishing media that is being demanded of marketing departments today, Pricedex is prepared to recommend a publishing engine that will simultaneously produce print-ready, web, and Portable Document Format (PDF) price books. The additional benefit of such a solution is that, in our experience, we have found that the frequency of publication increases, rather than decreases, with an automated solution such as the one being proposed. In the context of Web-based and CD-ROM based catalogs, the desire to keep information current is easily handled in a one or two step process. It would also be possible, in the context of such a solution, to also provide Contract Pricing Lists to customers, field personnel, etc., at the stroke of a key. This is a significant component to quality Customer Relationship Management. The process of automating the Price Book publication would entail the set up of structured document templates by Pricedex, which could be easily maintained and modified by corporate personnel. The Pricedex Builder Pricing Engine manages all the document structures, and graphics for publication, creating an environment whereby Price Books and Catalogs can be created on demand, and on-the-fly. In addition, by utilizing specific Customer Profile information (i.e. contract terms, shipping region), sections of the master book specific to the customer may be created at the touch of a button. Pricedex™ is a Registered Trademark of Pricedex Software Inc. Microsoft Internet Explorer™ and Excel™ are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation Crystal Reports™ is a registered trademark of Seagate Software Inc. Impromptu™ is a registered trademark of Cognos, Incorporated. Change Tracking Module An additional and very powerful feature of the Pricedex solution is the ability to configure the reporting to publish a “Changes Only” document. The benefit to corporate personnel, and customers, of being able to review changes only, and to make adjustments to their respective systems and processes without having to do a full review of the Master Price Book, will yield immense time saving results. This is accomplished by activating the Pricedex Change Tracking module. Essentially, the change tracking module compares a current price list against a snapshot of a previous price list, and produces a publishable report of all elements which have incurred a change, addition or deletion since the previous publication. Further benefits of the Change Tracking Module include the ability, using conventional decision support tools such as Crystal Reports™, Impromptu™, or Excel™, of producing reports providing analysis of price volatility, etc., over a predetermined period of time. Localization Module The demand on the Marketing Department to produce foreign currency and foreign language price lists for new markets has been steadily increasing. By activating the Pricedex Localization Module, currency exchange rules can be implemented to the existing publication document structures, thereby effectively producing an identical price book in local currencies, for use by distributor channels and customers alike. In addition, 'Smart Rounding' rules can be applied at the localization level, to ensure that converted pricing is expressed in 'market acceptable' terms. Uplift rules to pricing may also be factored at the localization level, to provide buffer to currency fluctuations and to ensure the desired longevity of the price list. Local language product descriptions can be developed in any Windows-supported character set, referred to in the localization profile, and drawn upon in the new publication to replace the domestic product descriptions, if desired. In essence, localized versions of the Price List publication can be published simultaneously with domestic price lists, using the same document structure, and maintaining the same 'look and feel' of the original, while addressing the needs of foreign channels and customers. This can be achieved without impact to conventional business financial systems, which, conventionally, operate on a 'base currency' basis. Alternatively, should there be multi- currency requirements within the business financial systems; currency localization rules can be applied to 'cloned' price lists within the main Pricedex application, and export data sets can be developed to update business systems, while maintaining the desired document structure and profile for foreign price list publications. Pricedex™ is a Registered Trademark of Pricedex Software Inc. Microsoft Internet Explorer™ and Excel™ are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation Crystal Reports™ is a registered trademark of Seagate Software Inc. Impromptu™ is a registered trademark of Cognos, Incorporated.