Company Shreds Paper-Based Ways

The buzz behind e-business is huge, but the transition from traditional paper-based methods of doing business to more of an online, interactive model cannot be done until a company is fully ready to make the commitment.

One company making the leap is Barth & Dreyfuss of California, a Los Angeles area-based manufacturer and distributor of textile products. Barth & Dreyfuss invested in a J.D. Edwards (Denver) ERP solution along with EDI/400 – a product developed by Premenos Corp., now owned by Harbinger Corp. (Atlanta) – to improve supply chain management, facilitate EDI transactions and provide an IT architecture for future growth.

Drawing upon its experience with large customers such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart, Barth & Dreyfuss decided to make changes to its existing legacy system, which relied on paper-based accounting methods and was not Year 2000 compliant. Barth & Dreyfuss’s heavy reliance on EDI – 75 percent to 80 percent of its orders are conducted this way – heightened the company’s need for better EDI management.

Such an implementation, in which an EDI tool is integrated with an ERP package like J.D. Edwards’ OneWorld or WorldSoftware, saves both time and money, according to Ray Rebello, director of market development for J.D. Edwards. A product like EDI/400 takes the information created through a OneWorld or WorldSoftware transaction and packages up the EDI information. This information is then sent to a trading partner via a Value-Added Network (VAN) or the Internet. When a VAN is used, both Barth & Dreyfuss and its partner must subscribe to the same VAN for the information to ultimately be delivered to the trading partner’s own ERP system.

The combination of OneWorld and WorldSoftware products with EDI/400 enables Barth & Dreyfuss to implement an ERP system on a larger scale than was previously possible, explains Charles Marshall, MIS manager for Barth & Dreyfuss. The system being replaced consisted of many smaller solutions and a lot of home-grown code. "We’re moving to a more stable environment," he says.

Barth & Dreyfuss hopes to have better connectivity with its remote sites and was looking for a vendor partner that could keep up with the newest technology, according to Marshall. "We hope to rely less upon customized programming than we have over the years," he says.

Another incentive for Barth & Dreyfuss to upgrade its network software was to keep pace with the EDI requirements of its trading partners. Though Barth & Dreyfuss has been using EDI for the past seven or eight years, the implementation of EDI/400 with J.D. Edwards’ products takes the company to a new level. When conducting online transactions, the type and number of VANs is determined by the demands of a company’s trading partners. Consequently, "no one is requesting Internet EDI capabilities at this time," Marshall says, adding that "questions about Internet EDI’s security" are also a factor.

The anchor of the Barth & Dreyfuss network is an AS/400e S20 – with a 4-way processor running V4R1 – that connects five company sites. The EDI portion of the solution is integrated with J.D. Edwards applications, so both pieces of the system went live together on September 1, completing an eight-month implementation process. While many issues arose during implementation, none were as important as EDI, according to Marshall. "EDI is so sensitive, it must be accurate out of the gate," he says. "Mistakes can create a mountain of backlog that you’ll never get to."

The Los Angeles-based consulting firm of Arthur Anderson worked with Barth & Dreyfuss throughout the upgrade process, from product selection to implementation. Barth & Dreyfuss previously used a lot of in-house Cobol programs, as well as some PC software for handling EDI, says Bill Isbell, Arthur Andersen’s project manager for the Barth & Dreyfuss implementation. As a result, the project consisted of many modules.

"Most of the complications on this job arose in the area of change management" and can be attributed to the fact that Barth & Dreyfuss was updating an older enterprise system to a packaged ERP solution for the first time, according to Isbell. The integration of J.D. Edwards software with EDI/400 provides a better user interface and was a "deciding factor" for his client during the two-month system selection process, he says.