Briggs & Stratton Australia Pty Ltd (BSA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Briggs & Stratton Corporation in America, the world's largest manufacturer of air-cooled petrol engines. BSA extended its RPG-based IMAS ERP system with IMAS Web, LANSA's plug and play dealer Web site solution for IMAS customers. The solution, called BSAWeb, provides a real-time 24*7 service to BSA's dealers and helps to keep prices competitive.
Barry Winters, Distribution and IT Manager at Briggs & Stratton Australia, says, "Dealers have openly welcomed the site and commented on the wealth of information they now have easy access to. From an IT perspective, I am happy with LANSA because it allows me to run the IT department with a very small team. And our parent company is pleased with the result as well, even though globally Briggs & Stratton uses SAP."
I am happy with LANSA because it allows me to run the IT department with a very small team
Briggs & Stratton engines range from 2 - 35 horsepower and are all manufactured by Briggs & Stratton plants in America, China and Japan. From its Melbourne headquarters, BSA looks after distribution and service operations in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea.
"We have two parts to our business," explains Winters. "Firstly, Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) representation, where we represent companies who purchase engines directly from our factories and fit to products, such as lawn mowers, for sale under their own brand names. Secondly, our distribution operation, for which we have approximately 1,500 dealers in Australia and New Zealand, is responsible for all parts, services and training of local OEMs and importers of our engines."
When BSA set up its business in Australia in 1986, IMAS ERP system was selected. "It was more or less chosen for us, because it was the package that was offered by IBM at the time," says Winters. "We have grown with IMAS, we thoroughly support it and we have been able to use IMAS very effectively in our distribution model. Over the years we have added modules to it, including EDI ordering."
"We made EDI ordering available to our dealers, but the majority of our dealers are small lawnmower and outdoor power equipment shops, generally run by a husband and wife team, maybe with one or two employees. Consequently, we still had a high number of faxes and phone calls to our customer service center. Also, the EDI solution doesn't offer any inquiry facilities."
"We wanted to grow our business and realized that a Web-based dealer communication solution could provide better service to our dealers and more efficient operations for us."
"We looked at two products, but both were very expensive. One was Java-based and even if the product license had been modestly priced, we would still have to start from scratch and spend heavily on development. We had already heard about LANSA's IMAS Web solution and decided to ask LANSA over for a demonstration. It turned out to be a good fit, quick to implement, affordable and easy to learn for our own small IT team," says Winters.
LANSA turned out to be a good fit, quick to implement, affordable and easy to learn for our own small IT team
BSA implemented the standard IMAS Web solution with hardly any modifications. "It was almost plug and play," says Winters. "We made some modifications to give us the functionality that would better serve our dealers. We took about six man weeks to implement the solution, but stretched over a longer period, as we only have a small team and other priorities kept coming up."
Now dealers can order over the Web, check the status of pending orders, look at their order history and perform stock look-ups, price look-ups and enquire on their account. Dealers can order any item of BSA's database of over 45,000 lines of products and spare parts.
BSA's heavily customized IMAS dispatch module will be integrated with IMAS Web, allowing dealers to view dispatch information, such as carrier details and consignment notes, further enhancing BSAWeb.
"We have kept the ordering and inquiry as simple as possible for our dealers," says Winters. "We provide default options wherever possible, so that our dealers do not have to make too many decisions. For example, if a dealer asks for order history, we present six months by default, but allow the dealer to change the criteria. We kept the site as trim, taut and terrific as possible, so that dealers can become comfortable with the solution very quickly."
The solution allows for several levels of access, for both BSA sales people and customers. BSA's sales representatives can use the system on behalf of the dealers they are responsible for. This allows them to review up to date dealer activity over the Internet prior to a sales call. We will be extending functionality to our sales managers as well, turning their cars into mobile offices.
Order details and the dealer's credit limit are automatically checked when an order is submitted. The order is then passed through to the warehouse for processing without any human intervention. Orders placed on the BSAWeb site by 2 o'clock in the afternoon go out the same day. Administrative staff only need to check the audit reports for orders that failed the validation checks.
As IMAS originally did not have a module for accepting electronic orders, Winters and his team wrote the logic for this themselves over ten years ago. The same RPG program logic, which BSA wrote back in 1990, is now called by LANSA in real-time.
Michael De Silva, Programmer/Analyst at BSA, says, "With LANSA we were able to interface to the back-end systems easily and painlessly. This enabled us to leverage the functionality built specifically for Briggs over the years without having to duplicate it for BSAWeb."
"We also found the LANSA support desk extremely helpful. They were able to provide us with immediate technical support whenever we contacted them with an issue."
We took about six man weeks to implement the solution
"We get very good feedback from our dealers," continues Winters. "They don't have to wait on the phone anymore to speak with a customer representative. They can look up the status of an order, while their customer is on the phone or in the shop, rather than having to call the customer back."
"The added benefit for small dealers is that they can do their ordering and administrative inquiries during the evening, since they are busy selling in their shop during the day. In our Web tracking reports we see quite a number of dealers logging in weeknights around 9 o'clock and on Sundays. So for sure we are offering them a benefit by making our Web site available 24*7."
A representative of Picton Mowers, says, "The site saves us time and money. We will use it for all our orders from now on." A representative from Woodland Mower Service, says, "The BSA Web site allows me to catch up on administrative matters in the evening at home. It just makes things easier."
Winters continues, "Good service to our dealers is extremely important, and our Web site, call center and account managers are all part of that. Our dealers are not exclusive and in some cases they could buy comparable products elsewhere. If our Web site makes it easier to do business with us, dealers are likely to do more business with us. Although not easy to measure, I am convinced the site contributes to higher sales."
"We are experiencing less mistakes in our ordering process. And when there is a mistake, it is obvious who is responsible. This results in fewer issues with our customers and ultimately a better relationship. With phone orders, and to some extent with fax orders, it wasn't always clear who introduced a mistake."
"The site allows us to grow our business without an equal increase in administrative staff. Now our staff can engage in more personalized customer service, sales and marketing support and other business areas that cannot be automated and where their expertise is really needed."
"The efficiencies and savings the site provides help us to keep our prices competitive. Firstly, there is a reduction in costs because we can increase our order intake without increasing staff. But the efficiencies ripple through the whole supply chain. I haven't done a detailed cost analysis recently, but I estimate that the Web site has helped us to reduce order costs by $20 to $30 an order."
"And since we offer a price incentive for dealers to order electronically, part of our savings go back immediately to the dealer."
"From an IT perspective I am happy with LANSA because it allows me to run the IT department with a very small team. Including myself, we have four IT people in total. We provide network and PC support, look after the Web site and HTML of our mother company, system administration and EDI and have in fact less than 1.5 persons focused on business analysis and development. The same developer who was skilled in IMAS and RPG is now developing dynamic Web pages with LANSA."
"I know of another IMAS user in our industry with equal size revenue who have four programmers, and quite a number of other IT support people. They chose a 3GL development tool and started Web development from scratch. They spent over four times as much as us to get their dealer site running, and offer no more functionality than ours. We spent between six to eight weeks with only one dedicated developer. And we hardly spent time on maintenance," says Winters.
The Web site has helped reduce order costs by $20 to $30 an order
"Our dealers keep telling us they love the site. And our parent company is happy with the result as well. Globally Briggs & Stratton runs SAP, but since we could offer a dealer Web site on a very modest budget, head office see no reason to make us implement SAP," says Winters.
"We are now adding a new feature to our site which will allow dealers to accumulate orders in a batch file over a period of time. Then once or twice a day, the dealer can send us their accumulated orders via the Web site. We call this feature the Order Pad. Our large dealers, who are accustomed to sending their orders by EDI, have asked for this."
"LANSA will have a growing role in achieving electronic efficiencies all the way through the supply chain, from the time we receive the product to the time we sell the product to the dealers. We have been doing traditional EDI since 1990 and are now looking at gradually introducing more economical electronic trading. We don't see a need to be on the leading edge just for technology's sake, but where a technology fits our business, we adopt it as quick as we possibly can," concludes Winters.
LANSA will have a growing role in achieving electronic efficiencies all the way through the supply chain
Company and System Information
- Briggs & Stratton Australia (BSA) is headquartered in Hallam, Victoria, Australia. The company's international headquarters is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Briggs & Stratton Corporation is the world's largest manufacturer of air-cooled gasoline engines (ranging from 2-to-35 horsepower) for use in lawn mowers, pumps generators and other portable equipment. Briggs & Stratton also manufactures portable generators, pressure washers and other related products.
- For more information visit: www.briggsandstratton.com.au
- BBSA uses an IBM iSeries model 800 for both its operations and its dealer Web site.
- IMAS, originally owned and marketed by IBM Australia, is now owned and marketed by Golden Key Company (Aust) Pty Ltd. For more information visit: www.imas.com.au
- IMAS Web is owned by LANSA Pty Ltd and jointly marketed by LANSA and Golden Key.