Founded in 1963 and based in Paris France, Agencie Pierre Lelong is now a leading distributor of paper products to printers and packaged paper wholesalers. In 1991, Lelong used LANSA to rebuild its core 5250 iSeries systems and since 2003 has progressively modernized its systems with user-friendly Web and Windows applications for customers and staff.
François-Xavier Moya, IT manager at Pierre Lelong Service says, "I am an enthusiastic follower of LANSA technology and our collaboration is far from over. The reusability of LANSA components allows extremely fast development. Today we only need one person to maintain all our applications, which are the equivalent of a thousand traditional RPG programs."
I am an enthusiastic follower of LANSA technology and our collaboration is far from over
Lelong’s primary role is an intermediary between international suppliers of paper products and its customers who are printers and packagers of paper for retail sale. "We contact our customers, place their orders with the suppliers and ensure delivery of the orders in a timely manner. For the suppliers, who are mostly foreign companies, we handle the majority of the accounting and financial transactions," explains Moya.
"When I joined Lelong in 1990 the challenge was to completely redevelop our core business application that had originally been built for the IBM/S34 and migrated first to IBM/S36 and then AS/400."
"There were enormous problems supporting the system. The reporting was not reliable and enhancing the system to meet new requirements was almost impossible. Clearly, it no longer met the needs of our users."
"I decided we needed a CASE tool. Coming from a banking service company, the benefits of CASE tools had already been clearly established in my mind. The primary reasons were stability and consistency of the developed application, reuse of components and ease of maintenance. I made a thorough evaluation of the available tools, in particular Adelia, Synon and LANSA."
"I preferred LANSA over Synon as it was less restrictive and easier to learn. LANSA was less proprietary and did not require such a high a level of AS/400 competency. Also, LANSA's method of accessing data joined by multiple keys was far better."
"So, the final choice was between Adelia and LANSA. I liked LANSA's ability to define prompts and validations at the field and file level in the LANSA Repository, plus its 4GL language was easy to understand."
"In 1991, I chose LANSA and I do not regret it to this day," says Moya.
In 1991, I chose LANSA and do not regret it to this day
"We decided to use Merise as the database design methodology. We had an IT staff of five at that time and we brainstormed for about six months to redesign the database. Once the conceptual model and business logic was defined, we started development in LANSA for the iSeries of a commercial business application based on the capture of orders," continues Moya.
"Development started in 1992, at the same time as a new team of users and a new group of clients and suppliers came onboard. It was a perfect combination, facilitating the transition from the old system."
"At the beginning, we worked slowly to make sure we got the base items such as prompts exactly right, but once that was done we really got into the fast lane," continues Moya.
The changeover was completed in 1994 after the systems ran in parallel for one year with data being exchanged between the two systems to allow complete reporting from either system. Lelong continued to enhance its systems with LANSA for iSeries and in 1997 added Windows and Excel integration using 5250 emulation and LANSA Open.
In 2003, the decision was made to implement Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI) to keep track of all incoming and outgoing telephone calls and give staff immediate online access to commercial information without the need to search paper files. The goal was real-time access to complete order history.
"Development was completed in one and a half years and went very smoothly,” says Moya. “Initially the CTI application ran on 5250 screens, but after evaluating Visual BASIC and Visual LANSA, we chose Visual LANSA to implement a more productive Windows interface and started migrating all our applications to Visual LANSA starting with the CTI application."
"My team, which had now shrunk from five to two, redeveloped code table maintenance, customer and supplier searches and all the reporting," says Moya. “As we had built the system in LANSA, we only had to recode the user interface, not the underlying logic."
As part of the Visual LANSA redevelopment, Lelong also implemented workflow management, integrated information between its various systems and automated the cutting of paper from large bulk reels.
"We coupled the CTI with electronic messaging via Lotus Notes," says Moya. "The contents of a screen can be sent instantaneously to the appropriate person within the company, by means of a small icon visualized as an envelope, which integrates with Lotus Notes with a single click."
"We also automatically integrate invoicing information with our Windows-based WISE accounting software. LANSA let us receive and exchange information in ANSIX12 format without any problem."
"Plus the application automated the calculations involved in cutting paper from reels to sell to packaged paper customers. The challenge is determine which reel to use to minimize wastage. As rolls arrive or are used, we automatically record the type and thickness of paper/cardboard, the size and reference numbers."
"When we redeveloped the CTI system in Visual LANSA, one week of developer training was enough. In less than three months the new graphical CTI application was operational. The system is very stable in spite of the addition of this new software layer," says Moya.
“In less than three months the new graphical CTI application was operational
"The reusability of components within LANSA allows extremely fast development. For example in March 2005, thanks to LANSA for the Web, we made real-time stock enquiries accessible to anyone through our Web site. This development was done in only two days," says Moya.
"Today we only need one person to maintain all our applications, which are the equivalent of a thousand traditional RPG programs."
"The reaction of our users to the new Visual LANSA systems, in particular accessing department information, payment details, transport methods and order status, was unanimously positive."
"The users really appreciate the information messages, which display the level of information relevant to a particular order."
"The effectiveness of the CTI system is undeniable and our quality of customer service has been reinforced. Instantaneous access to order history lets anyone in the company react to an urgent enquiry about the delivery status of an order."
"Because of the ease of use and the richness of information, the users accepted the redeveloped CTI system instantly. We now have the equivalent of five 5250 screens in a single Windows screen and navigation by tabs instead of function keys and hierarchical menus."
"This way of working is very intuitive, especially for staff used to a Windows interface. We don’t have to train them to use 5250 screens. All the business users were immediately productive in the Visual LANSA environment, there were no obstacles and our capacity to handle calls was multiplied by ten."
"Today there are forty people at Pierre LELONG and everyone, from the receptionist to the chairman, uses the system and can see in one window the full history of a client. The receptionist can see instantly if someone is free to take a call or leave a follow-up message. The sales assistants appreciate the ability to pass on a call in one click instead of consulting directories."
"The sales managers also regularly use the graphical display of statistics, for example to visualize the trend of prices over a two year period," says Moya.
“All the business users were immediately productive in the Visual LANSA environment and we can handle ten times as many calls
"LANSA has changed our life," says Moya. "LANSA V11 promises even more. It represents an enormous advance for LANSA. Everything is even more accessible than in the preceding versions thanks to the enhanced Integrated Development Environment (IDE), complete navigation around the LANSA Repository and the visualization of the validation and access rules."
"We are currently redeveloping all our 5250 screens in Visual LANSA. Now we are experienced with building productive Windows user interfaces, we can show users all the information from seven or eight 5250 screens in a single screen to give a much more homogeneous view of the order."
"We have also implemented XML integration for the bi-directional exchange of data with our suppliers. For example, we send orders to a German supplier and receive back the invoice and packing list, by using Visual LANSA to generate and send XML via email."
"I am an enthusiastic follower of LANSA technology and our collaboration is far from over," concludes Moya. "As Pierre Lelong, our chairman and founder said to me about the choice of LANSA technology for the CTI system, “Once again, you backed the right horse."
LANSA changed our life. LANSA V11 promises even greater advances
Company and System Information
- Founded in 1963 and based in Paris, Agencie Pierre Lelong is now one of the leading distributors of paper products to printers and packaged paper wholesalers. Lelong represents leading paper product manufacturers from around the world (including Austria, Germany, Brazil, Canada, the United States, Finland, Italy, Norway, Poland and Sweden) and has exclusive rights for many products in the Belgian, Spanish and French markets.
- Agencie Pierre Lelong is the commercial office for trading in paper and Agibois S.a.r.l., a related company, deals in wood for carpentry. Pierre Lelong Service provides marketing and IT services for both companies.
- For more information visit: www.lelong.com
- Lelong has a single 520 model iSeries for commercial applications, a Novell file/print server and a Debian/Linux proxy/SMTP server. Lelong uses LANSA for all its business applications that are integrated with Windows-based WISE payroll/accounting software and Domino Notes work group and email software.