To meet customer demand for an enterprise resource planning solution that combined high performance with ease-of-use, New Age Software needed to quickly redesign an existing web application that was based on Java technology. The company chose to build its new offering on Microsoft Silverlight. By rapidly delivering a highly responsive application that offers intuitive, interactive features, New Age Software continues to expand its customer base worldwide.
In 2000, New Age Software released the initial version of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, which it built using the Java programming language and development platform. “The goal for the application was to provide clients with an easier, faster way to complete such tasks as processing invoices or tracking new leads and opportunities,” says Rafael Olmos, Technology Manager for New Age Software.
Following its initial release, New Age Software wanted to improve the application’s user interface design and runtime performance. “We received feedback from some clients that it didn’t provide the kind of interactivity or responsiveness that they expected from a web application,” says Olmos. WOW Nutrition was one of those clients. The Brazil-based company, which produces a full line of health-related fruit juices and smoothies, began using the Java-based version of the New Age Software ERP application in 2002. “It was an improvement over our previous system, and it provided most of the functionality we needed,” says Jose Roberto Palacio, Financial Controller at WOW Nutrition. “But the front-end component was time-consuming to install, and the interface was difficult to learn and operate.”
The existing New Age Software ERP application was large, containing more than 7,000 forms. One of the major development challenges that New Age Software faced was how to provide a satisfying user experience, including low latency times, and still provide all of the business functionality delivered in a traditional ERP application. “We needed the ability to quickly customize the look and feel of the application to deliver a fully branded experience for customers, and this wasn’t always easy with Java,” says Olmos.
||The intuitive layout and the ability to access so many different functions from a single screen have helped boost productivity levels for our workers by about 30 percent.
Financial Controller, WOW Nutrition
To respond to the needs of existing customers and seize growth opportunities in both Brazil and international markets, New Age Software set out to redesign its ERP application. “We began our search for a web development technology that would enable us to deliver a more intuitive, interactive, and high-performance user experience,” says Olmos. Solution
Initially, New Age Software chose to rebuild its ERP application using the Adobe Flex software development kit. However, midway through the project, the company decided to abandon Adobe Flex. “The Adobe platform had too steep a learning curve to enable our team to be as productive as we needed to be,” says Olmos.
Olmos and his team then turned to the Microsoft Silverlight development platform to build the application the company now markets as Aeruss. “As soon as we started to explore Silverlight, we realized that it offered a powerful, straightforward set of tools for creating fully interactive business applications,” says Olmos. New Age Software took advantage of animation tools in Silverlight to simplify navigation and create a more engaging interface design. For example, clicking any of the icons presented on the menu screen activates a ripple animation, an effect that creates a fluid entry into each of the application modules.
Within each module, users can easily move data between folders and quickly navigate to the functions they use most often. “Our people love the ability to drag and drop files, and they use the ‘favorites’ feature to quickly move back and forth between the different system applications,” says Palacio.
In addition, New Age Software used the Rich Textbox control in Silverlight, and enhancements to such existing controls as DataGrid and ListBox, to infuse the application with a highly compelling display and editing experience. Designers used the interoperability between Silverlight and the Microsoft Expression Blend design software to restyle these and other user interface elements without the need to write additional code.Benefits
By using Microsoft Silverlight, New Age Software was able to deliver end-to-end ERP functionality without compromising usability and performance. “By capitalizing on the powerful runtime performance of Microsoft Silverlight, we can deliver a 7,000-form ERP application completely through the web,” says Olmos. “This opens up amazing opportunities for our customers.”
Accelerated Development by Two Years
Because the company’s developers already had experience working with the Microsoft .NET Framework, they were able to quickly learn and implement tools in Silverlight. Designers also used Microsoft Expression Blend to graphically define animations and other user interface components, helping to ensure efficient collaboration with developers while preserving the integrity of design concepts at every stage. With access to familiar, interoperable tool sets, New Age Software estimates that it trimmed four weeks off of each successive development cycle. “We estimate that we saved a total of two years of development time,” says Olmos. “We would not have been able to achieve the kind of productivity we experienced with Microsoft Silverlight on another development platform. The use of Silverlight, together with other Microsoft technologies, was the key to getting our application to market as fast as possible.”
Enhanced User Experience
Through its use of Silverlight, New Age Software was able to rapidly deliver an ERP solution that is easy to deploy and simple to use, while offering enterprise-class scalability and throughput performance. “Our employees love how responsive the application is,” says Palacio of WOW Nutrition. “The intuitive layout and the ability to access so many different functions from a single screen have helped boost productivity levels for our workers by about 30 percent.”
Strengthened Competitive Advantage
The release of its Aeruss solution has enabled New Age Software to generate new business opportunities in Brazil and in markets worldwide, helping the company to expand its edge over competitors. “It’s been difficult to keep up with the demand for Aeruss,” says Olmos. “Once people see it, they instantly want to use it.”
For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit:
Get Started with Microsoft Silverlight: Install
Read more about Microsoft Silverlight for Business: Case Studies