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Service Centers
Friday | 01 September, 2006 | 3:45 am

Smooth service ahead

By Lauren Duensing

September 2006 - Service centers come in all shapes and sizes, however, they often face the same challenges when it comes to streamlining order tracking, inventory and sales. The Eniteo enterprise software solution from Enmark Systems Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., offers both large and small service centers an intuitive way to manage their entire operations.

Eniteo was built from the ground up, with a graphical user interface, opposed to the text-based systems that are prevalent in many operations, says John Bilek, president of Enmark. "All the software we write is Microsoft collaborative because we are a Microsoft partner," he notes. "We've taken our 20-plus years of experience and redesigned the system using the interface. It works just like any other Windows program." Because it works a lot like the other Microsoft programs that most people use on a daily basis, Enmark is finding that the training requirements are minimal.

Installing Eniteo allows service centers to improve the quality of their operations. The system is designed for service centers, and the workflow is ordered in such a way to be useful for a service-center user. "The major difference in productivity that we've found is by putting the system where the work occurs. Data entry at point of origination is significant," says Bilek. "Often there is handwritten information that is slowly making its way through the organization. I mean slowly--sometimes never."

Putting the systems where the work occurs provides two benefits, Bilek says. "There is much less data handling because you're not doing it three times, you're doing it one time. In addition, you're creating a superior workforce by adding them to your network. Rather than keeping your employees separate from the operating software environment, now they are part of the workflow, which is a job boost."

Putting it into practice
R.J. Linus Steel Services, Montgomeryville, Pa., is a single-service alloy and medium carbon bar distributor, says Mike Linus, general manager. "We were founded in 1993 by our current president, Dick Linus." The company focuses on round bar machinery steel from 1 inch to 16 inches in diameter.

Before Eniteo, the company was using Peachtree accounting software. "It was a $125 investment when we started the business," says Linus. As the company grew, however, it couldn't keep up, and "we decided to look outside," he says. "Our first encounter was with Enmark. We were so impressed with the program that we bought it on the spot. We were looking for something that was affordable without developing our own program."

R.J. Linus Steel Services has seen improvements in productivity since installing the system. Previously all the invoicing, data entry and purchase orders were done through a handwritten system, then passed over and entered into the computer. "The new system allows the purchase orders to be entered directly at the sales desk, and when material is shipped out of the system, an invoice is automatically created."

With the old system, if the employee who managed the invoicing went away for a week, it was "almost like we couldn't invoice for a week," Linus says. "That person would then take almost two weeks to catch up. Now that same person can go away and it's easily covered from an invoicing standpoint." The company can now use its employees in more productive areas.

Personalized installation, timely updates
A full Microsoft network is required to operate the Eniteo software, says Bilek. "Once that is in place, we put the software on the host server, load the software and begin the implementation process."

Harnessing the power of the Microsoft nework allows companies to combine "e-mail, office productivity, virus control, and store information within a server that is backed up properly," says Bilek. "In addition, users can access the system from anywhere in the world through a virtual private network (VPN)."

"We were basically starting from a clean slate because we didn't have a program to shift from," says Linus. "The product code development was relatively simple. We used standard nomenclature that we could expand on. I was involved with the data entry and product code development, and I put everything together in about four weeks."

In addition, the system is continually being updated, similar to the updates that Microsoft releases for programs such as Internet Explorer. Each user is charged a monthly subscription that allows them to receive all the support and features of the new releases. "We do a release-based version," says Bilek. "Each new version will have significant changes that improve the product. For example, one of the recent releases was a certification system, which is an important feature that is provided as part of the monthly subscription to Eniteo. A new release could contain an extremely expensive piece of software, and the subscription price never changes."

Linus actually saw the updates as a negative when he first looked at the software, but he notes that they quickly became a positive. He has found that the updates are easy to install and completely seamless. In addition, "the support has been phenomenal. I was concerned at first because the Eniteo system was growing so rapidly. One of the things that has impressed me the most is that I'm still dealing with the person that I dealt with to begin with, and I had access to that person since the day I put the program into use. It's really amazing how [Enmark has] been able to put this all together."

The customer is always right
The software's ease of use allows service centers to interact with their customers more efficiently and pro-fessionally. "The Command Center is a selling interface that allows for rapid quoting and order entry," says Bilek. He notes that if a company is working with a customer and it takes them two hours to generate a quote, it can be frustrating. "The command center allows you to move faster than anybody else when it comes to answering the customer's questions," he notes. "That strengthens relationships."

Another feature of Eniteo that was created to serve customers is the Web interface. "For example, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they can have access to information that is in the service center's database," says Bilek. "They can log on to the Web site and do a search to check order status or shipping cycles."

"Things are now a bit more professional in our business," says Linus. The company can go into the system and retrieve information about its customers, including past quotes. "That is the tool customers are benefiting from most," Linus notes.

Strengthening a relationship is about information, says Bilek. That is exactly what Eniteo provides for service centers. It allows them to streamline their operations so that both customers and employees are better served in their daily tasks. "It has definitely streamlined our capabilities," says Linus. "It gave us a much better financial picture, a much better inventory picture and much better overall service to our customers." MM

By Lauren Duensing, from the September 2006 issue of Modern Metals.

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