Simplify Your Customer's Supply Chain
An ISV (independent software vendor) wins a 100+ user mobile computing install with a $140 million online retailer.
There used to be a time when the reputation of the products you carried would play a key role in selling themselves. In today's world of cutthroat competition, however, you have to rely on some kind of services, such as consulting, implementation, and/or postsale support — in addition to reputable products — to win deals.
HighJump Software, a 3M company, is an ISV with 375 employees that sells supply chain execution solutions designed to streamline manufacturing and distribution processes from the production stage through the sales process. The ISV competes with VARs that sell traditional WMS (warehouse management software) applications such as Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie. According to Chad Collins, director of product strategy, one of HighJump Software's competitive advantages is its ability to quickly implement and configure a mobile computing solution to its customers' specifications. One example that illustrates this is an installation in which HighJump Software completed with $140 million direct-to-consumer online and mail order retailer Fingerhut Direct Marketing, Inc.
Fingerhut has a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center (DC) in St. Cloud, MN, not far from HighJump Software's headquarters. Six weeks prior to the Christmas season, Fingerhut's busiest time of the year, it decided to implement a new WMS. "Fingerhut's legacy system required a lot of IT support to upgrade WMS database and workflow operations to support changes in operational processes," says Collins. "Plus, the system only supported older radio frequencies for its wireless handhelds such as 900 MHz, which had limited data throughput and didn't support the latest wireless security standards."
Customer References, Detailed Timeline Secure Deal
One of the things HighJump Software did to edge out its competitors was to put together a detailed list showing each step of the implementation process, including what the customer needed to do as well as HighJump Software's areas of responsibility. "The narrow implementation window was the most difficult part of the whole deal — especially considering the size of Fingerhut's workforce," says Collins. "We included every detail in our timeline, including the ordering, configuring, and hardware and software installation, plus integration with the customer's ERP [enterprise resource planning] software and training."
HighJump Software submitted a list of references along with the proposal and timeline as additional proof that Fingerhut could count on the ISV to deliver on its promise. One of the final selling points that Collins believes helped HighJump earn the deal was demonstrating its software and showing the customer how it could add new products and change the workflow regarding how products are received into the DC, ordered by customers, and/or shipped to customers. "Unlike some WMS systems that require skilled IT personnel to make these kinds of changes, our software can be configured by shop floor managers," says Collins.
After winning the bid, HighJump Software contacted its mobile computing handheld business partner, Psion Teklogix, and ordered dozens of rugged Psion 7535 handhelds and Psion 8525 vehicle mount units. To save on cost, Fingerhut used several dozen of its existing handheld devices and updated any legacy handhelds near the end of their life cycle with Psion Teklogix handhelds. In all, HighJump Software installed its software on more than 100 handhelds and integrated the software with Fingerhut's ERP. "Fingerhut is using two modules on the handhelds: HighJump Container Advantage and HighJump Warehouse Advantage," says Collins. "HighJump Container Advantage enables DC shipping personnel to automatically select the optimal size and number of boxes when shipping customer orders. HighJump Warehouse Advantage helps supervisors prioritize work tasks as well as control inbound merchandise, receiving, picking, packing, and shipping."
After completing the installation, HighJump Software trained Fingerhut's workers using a train-the-trainer system. The ISV completed the training within the customer's time frame of six weeks.