By Carly Lombardo
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Paul Joinnides is a confirmed Visual AccountMate loyalist. So are others, but in recent years--and somewhat to his own surprise--he has branched into software development with the creation of a VAM add-on for order tracking.
Joinnides, president of the Summit, N.J.-based Digital Strategies, explains, "In 2000, our business started to change because our customers weren't spending as much money, and our projects weren't as big. We had to find something to hang our hat on. That's when we decided to become more active, not only as an AccountMate reseller, but as a vertical solution partner as well." DSI's VisualOrderTrak module captures the life cycle of a sales order on one row of an AccountMate integrated form. Specifically, every time a sales order is created, the module simultaneously generates a tracking record that includes the customer ID, purchase order, product and store number, date, amount, due date, and weight. When additional information such as invoice, payment, and EDI data is created, this too is added to the record.
Filtering and sorting capabilities are available by PO, SO, date, and even FedEx or UPS tracking number. Using these filters and sorts, exceptions can easily be spotted, alerting management to which orders are late or not yet shipped, which orders are duplicates, which have been shipped but not invoiced, and which have been invoiced but not sent via EDI.
Three years ago, Callen Corp., a Paterson, N.J.-based manufacturer and distributor of photo mats used for picture framing, had what Joinnides calls "half a solution" in place to meet the demands of major retail customers such as Wal-Mart, Michael's, and A.C. Moore. For example, there was an EDI component in place, but it needed to be more effectively integrated, modified, and linked with other mission-critical applications, according to Joinnides.
Enter Digital Strategies. The $241,000 engagement encompassed stabilizing and automating the EDI and order processes, customizing reports to reduce order processing time in the warehouse, integrating the VisualOrderTrak module, and tying all of these capabilities into the core AccountMate package.
Following the implementation, Callen has grown to more than $10 million in yearly revenue, processes more than 33,000 orders representing at least 675,000 line items, and ships some 29,000 boxes via FedEx each year. Callen can now determine in less than a minute if an invoice has not been sent via EDI to one of its major retail customers. It can also instantly identify all orders that have not been readied to send to the factory floor. "Callen found $30,000 worth of unpaid invoices in the first days [following the implementation]," notes Joinnides.
Current pricing for VisualOrderTrak is $7,500. Joinnides is now making it available to other AccountMate VARS.
An Expanding Service Mix
DSI's repertoire of services now includes system design, project management, AccountMate customization, data recovery, warehouse management, order tracking, and EDI. The company has six employees, and revenue for 2003 exceeded the half-million-dollar mark. Customers tend to be businesses with employees ranging from "a handful" to 75, and with annual sales in the $10 million-plus range.
Joinnides started his career as an operations system developer for GE/Honeywell, and started Digital Strategies in 1988. He opted to partner with AccountMate, and has stayed with it ever since, even using the software in-house. "With VAM, there is no technical reason why any job can't be done--that's the fun part," says Joinnides.
For example, Joinnides worked with New York-based Soho Publishing to develop an AccountMate-based system that uses Electronic Data Interchange sales data to manage craft book inventory in approximately a thousand JoAnn stores nationwide. The system, which makes particular use of the VAM Inventory Control module, automatically updates the stock, calculates inventory needs in each store, and ships product as needed. Joinnides, who typically charges an hourly rate of $85, estimated that this project--including continued support, development, and maintenance--billed out at $732,000.
Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com.