Honda Australia MPE is part of the global Honda company that is the world's largest engine manufacturer. Honda Australia MPE distributes motorcycles, marine power equipment and personal watercraft through over 1,000 dealers. Dealers use a LANSA web solution for sales registration and warranty claims and can upload parts orders directly from their dealer management systems to Honda's iSeries. Honda has also started a project to integrate the Salesforce CRM with its core ERP system via LANSA Integrator.
Craig Bassett, IT manager at Honda Australia MPE, says, "The new sales web solution handled over 30,000 registrations in its first four months of going live, over double the volume of the previous hosted solution. We view LANSA as a key component in our ongoing strategy of building better communications with our dealer network."
We view LANSA as a key component in our ongoing strategy of building better communications with our dealer network
"We aim to provide the best possible services to our dealers to make it easier for them to find out about product features, pricing, availability, warranties and financing. The web plays an increasingly important role in delivering these services," says Bassett.
"But the hosted service we were using up to a year ago was not meeting our standards. There were too many steps to register a sale and the system wasn't perceived as user friendly by the dealers."
A more structural shortcoming was that the database of the hosted system was separate from Honda's iSeries systems and had to be kept in sync with batch uploads of data. Honda MPE has over one million serial numbers or Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) in the field in Australia at any point in time and needs to keep track of which VINs are with which dealer and which VINs have been sold. If the hosted system went out of sync with Honda's system, Honda had to do a full system reset and send a file with all unregistered VINs to the hosted system's database.
The delivery of orders was not reliable explains Tony Aisbett, business analyst at Honda MPE. "Orders were delivered to the hosted site and then the service provider would FTP them to our site to the IFS. We would poll the IFS and pick up the orders when they appeared."
"Sometimes orders went missing. The dealer was sure they had uploaded their orders to the hosted site and the service provider would say they had forwarded them to us. But we didn't get them. It was a finger pointing exercise."
"Fixing problems and making modifications was difficult and expensive. It was hard trying to explain a business issue to someone with only graphical HTML skills. The service provider wasn't always that responsive either," continues Aisbett.
There were functional shortcomings as well. For example, the old system didn't handle 'cash backs'. Dealers had to send in a paper form, someone had to check and key in the details and send it to accounts who would send a check to the customer or dealer.
When Honda decided it was time to replace their paper-based warranty claims, Basset wanted to use the opportunity to implement an integrated web solution for registration, warranties and orders that resided on the same iSeries as their core systems.
Honda uses the Movex ERP for its Completely Built Units (CBU) business, which are the fully assembled motorcycles, power equipment and marine engines. Parts and warranties are managed with HiPack (Honda Integrated Package), a customized RPG solution built by Honda's head office in Japan.
"We looked into web facing the green-screen RPG applications. But you still have to develop those programs in RPG and you don't get the full value of a real web application. We evaluated several options and found that LANSA was the best tool for us," says Bassett.
There were too many steps to register a sale and the system wasn’t perceived as user friendly by the dealers
Honda used Visual LANSA to build online sales registration, cash back management, order uploading and warranty claims solutions for its dealers. LANSA Integrator is used to securely upload orders and to make sales/warranty registrations, warranty claims and rebate documents available as PDFs.
When registering a sale, the dealer can enter the VIN or search for it by model number in his own stock. Once selected, the dealer keys in the customer details. This instantly updates HiPack with the sales registration. LANSA Integrator then creates a PDF confirmation with sales and warranty details, which the dealer can print and give to the customer.
Cash backs campaigns are now automatically applied and details printed on the sales registration when conditions are met. For generators or power equipment, the cash back usually goes directly to the customer. For motorcycles, the dealer can select from a dropdown whether the cash back goes to the customer or should be used towards paying for additional product features, on road costs or other related purchases.
Now when a customer comes to a dealer with an equipment problem, the dealer can determine whether or not a product is still under warranty by searching online for the VIN. "So, even if the customer lost his warranty papers, we can still help," explains Aisbett.
The dealer then enters claim details, including the claim amount based on parts and labor and submits the claim for approval. The dealer can then request a claim summary PDF for printing. When Honda approves the claim a credit is raised against the dealer and the status will change to 'credited'. The dealer can then request a recipient created tax invoice. LANSA Integrator is used to create and send the PDF documents via FTP.
Honda's internal staff now also uses the LANSA-based web interface to process warranty claims.
"The LANSA-based site also allows dealers to upload their orders in real time to our iSeries. We integrate with the three major dealer management systems in Australia, Revolution, Biscount and C8, that have agreed on a predefined format for exporting orders," continues Aisbett.
"Once an order has been exported, the dealer can go to our website, browse for the order file and press the send button. The system sends the order file via the LANSA Integrator FTP service and it goes straight into our system."
"We inform the dealer instantly on his screen of the order number that was created in our Movex system. On top of that we send a confirmation by fax within minutes," says Bassett.
We inform the dealer instantly on his screen of the order number that was created in our Movex ERP system
"The site provides an easy experience for our dealers," says Bassett. "Their feedback is "That was easy, I'll order something again from Honda." To bring a dealer back to our site, rather than our competitors, you have to make the site simple and easy to use."
"If you don't offer better service you fall behind. You don't necessarily implement new systems because you expect a payback. You do it so that you don't lose business and stay ahead of your competitors."
"Running our own fully integrated LANSA web solution is far more reliable than the hosted environment we previously used. There is no more risk of orders getting lost. The orders go straight to our server and the dealer gets an instant confirmation."
"The web-based cash back system has provided a massive administrative saving," adds Aisbett. "The old system didn't support this. Now the cash back application comes in electronically and has already been validated against the campaign rules. The system credits the dealer's account, or in case of a cash back to the customer, the system kicks off an automated procedure for the customer to receive the cash."
"We find LANSA the cleanest and most efficient way to deliver an application. The LANSA site runs on the same server as our core HiPack and Movex systems, calls some of their logic and uses the same databases."
"There is nothing to install or maintain on the client side and no specialized equipment is required. Any authorized dealer with a PC and browser can securely access the application."
"Considering we started less then a year ago, we are now incredibly advanced in the way we utilize the web and the business process integration between all our applications."
We find LANSA the cleanest and most efficient way to deliver an application
"Flawless communication with our dealers is top priority," says Bassett.
"Developing with LANSA let us build and support our dealer communication solutions in house, delivering huge cost savings and benefits."
"Having the LANSA skills in-house also allowed us to be more responsive to enhancement requests and problems. We control our own applications and don't rely on a vendor prioritizing our change requests. We could not develop web applications on the System i before, but now we can. That is the major advantage."
"The implementations of the LANSA based solutions are very successful and very well accepted. When an opportunity comes up to provide more systems we will always consider LANSA as a first option."
"LANSA's web development and direct B2B integration tools are our strategic direction and we see the LANSA applications as a core part of the business," concludes Bassett.
"We are in the final stages of a project to integrate our HiPack ERP system with the SalesForce hosted CRM solution using LANSA Integrator," adds Aisbett.
Having the LANSA skills in-house also allowed us to be more responsive to enhancement requests and problems
Company and System Information
- Honda Australia MPE started operations in 1991 and has its headquarters in Melbourne, Victoria. Part of the global Honda company that is the world’s largest engine manufacturer, Honda Australia MPE manufactures and distributes motorcycles, marine power equipment and personal watercraft. Sales for Honda MPE in the 2007 financial year exceeded $350 million, representing approximately 210,000 products.
- For more information visit: www.hondampe.com.au
- The LANSA-based solutions at Honda integrate with HiPack, Movex and WebSphere Portal Express. Honda uses a IBM System i model 520.