J.D. Edwards To Offer Proactive ERP

Though most Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions work well behind the scenes, J.D. Edwards (Denver) will soon offer a Customer Service Management System (CSMS) solution to designed to encourage a proactive approach to the customer service aspect of business.

As the customer service module of J. D. Edwards’ SCOREx (Supply Chain Optimization and Real-time Extended Execution), CSMS is a fully-automated solution designed to enhance the breadth of customer service options available to end users, according to Ray Rebello, VP of product marketing for J.D. Edwards. To achieve what CSMS does in a single solution, customer service departments today typically rely upon several systems, he says.

CSMS, due for general availability in December, was designed to enhance post-sales services. CSMS will be available to OneWorld users, and those WorldSoftware users who move to OneWorld. SCOREx is an integrated solution announced in May of this year to address both the planning and execution sides of the supply chain, including advanced planning and scheduling, as well as order, warehouse, transportation and cost management.

Two of CSMS’s strongest cases are the cost savings and revenue potential it introduces to a customer service department, according to Rebello. In addition to savings gained through customer service system consolidation, CSMS allows for the creation of new services offerings that can be sold to existing customers or included in packages sold to new customers.

As services and repeat sales continue to become a growing source of revenue for businesses, it is important that enhancements to service offerings facilitate sales to existing customers, according to Rebello.

J.D. Edwards is approaching a new suite of software products in a different way by promoting coexistence between OneWorld and WorldSoftware, according to Rebello. “Each ERP solution uses the same database and business rules,” he says, adding that OneWorld and WorldSoftware can, and often do, coexist on the same CPU.

This new approach targets OneWorld specifically because OneWorld has a newer, object-oriented architecture than WorldSoftware, which is written in RPG. “OneWorld is better suited to component-based solutions like CSMS,” Rebello says.

J.D. Edwards enlisted a customer focus group to define the functional specifications of CSMS, according to Jeanne Cummins, J.D. Edwards’ director of industry marketing for electronics. This focus group has been together for the past year, working to share experiences and gather information, she says.

One member of CSMS focus group is Tony Praza, director of IS for Itron Inc., a Spokane, Wash.-based provider of data acquisition and wireless communication solutions for collecting and analyzing electric, gas and water usage data.

Itron had been using J.D. Edwards’ World Software ERP package on a Model 620 running V4R1. The company now plans to implement OneWorld to accommodate J.D. Edwards’ SCOREx.

Itron provides several products and a variety of services, according to Praza. The company’s Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) product line uses radio and telephone technology to collect meter data. Itron’s Electronic Meter Reading (EMR) handheld computer systems allow utilities to automate a substantial portion of their meter reading and billing functions.

CSMS will be used for the service side of Itron’s business. As a result, the company will eliminate certain service and help desk applications that it has been running for years, according to Praza. Most of these service applications were developed in-house as far back as the mid-1980s, which were implemented with the knowledge that someday they would be replaced by a packaged solution from a single vendor. “J.D. Edwards’ ability to integrate functions makes implementation easier. [Itron doesn’t have] to deploy solutions from more than one vendor or deal with overlapping functions from different solutions,” he says.

Praza says he’s hoping CSMS will enable Itron to focus on the customer more than had been possible in the past. Many services solutions had to be home grown in the early- to mid-80s, according to Praza. “Customer services is evolving,” he says. “There’s a growing need for companies to service their products better.”

Itron’s services, tailored to meet the individual needs of its customers, include project management, training, installation management, system configuration consultation, FCC licensing assistance, regulatory research and support, Benefits Optimized Deployment (BOD) modeling, network feasibility analysis, network operations, customer call center support, Total System Support Program (TSSP) and technical services.

Itron’s system maintenance and support services include 24-hour, toll-free hot-line support, access to customer service representatives, regional training programs, equipment repair and preventative maintenance, software support and maintenance, system troubleshooting and network management services, according to Praza.

Itron plans to implement each of the four components of CSMS over the next year. Call Center Management will replace Itron’s current help desk early next year, followed closely by installed-base and service contract management. Service Order Management – also referred to as depot repair – is scheduled for implementation during the third quarter of 1999.

Praza says his main contribution to J.D. Edwards’ focus group has been to provide the perspective of a company that acts as a systems integrator and services provider for its own products.