Bouwmaat, a Dutch supplier of wholesale building products, wanted to improve business decisions, efficiency, and customer service by increasing access to enterprise resource planning (ERP) data. The company turned to Toshiba TEC and Dynamics Anywhere to implement an intelligent system based on Microsoft technology that wirelessly connects Windows Embedded handheld devices to Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP software running on Windows Server. The new solution provides direct access to ERP data, which helps employees make better decisions, save time, and serve customers more efficiently. In addition, the simplified user interface improves usability and helps employees adapt faster to new technology.
Based in Bunschoten-Spakenburg, the Netherlands, Bouwmaat is a leading supplier of wholesale construction products. The company, which has 700 employees and 47 locations, sells building products to small businesses and private contractors throughout the country.
To improve business decisions, efficiency, and customer service, the company wanted a mobile solution that would speed the flow of information from the front of each store to the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP software running in the back office.
At Bouwmaat, products are labeled with barcodes, which reference data such as price and supplier details as well as descriptive information including color, length, and material composition. Prior to the new mobility solution, sales staff had to scan the barcode and then place the device in a cradle at the back of the store in order to connect with the ERP system. The process was time-consuming and required leaving customers unattended.
Furthermore, the manual processes were prone to error. For example, orders were handwritten on the shop floor and then typed into the Microsoft Dynamics NAV software in the office. As a result, it was difficult to keep inventory information accurate and up-to-date. Similarly, price changes and other information entered into the ERP system had to be separately loaded into each handheld device.
“We needed access to real-time information,” says Annelies Bootsman, Administrative Organization Specialist at Bouwmaat. “If the data in the scanner wasn’t current, then we risked giving
customers the wrong price.” Bouwmaat decided to look for a solution that would wirelessly connect handheld devices with the ERP system in each store, and then share that information with a corporate data center.
|With the Microsoft platform and Windows Embedded, we can provide a single reality from the data center to the front of the store. The information in the ERP system is exactly what staff see on their handheld devices. As a result, the quality of the decisions people make is as good as it can be. |
| Annelies Bootsman|
Administrative Organization Specialist
Bouwmaat teamed with Toshiba TEC to implement a solution that seamlessly connects mobile devices with the ERP system. The intelligent system includes a web-based interface from Dynamics Anywhere, Motorola MC55 devices running the Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows Server operating systems, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and Internet Information Services. The solution also connects with Active Directory Domain Services for identity management.
Windows Embedded was the first choice for Motorola in its mobile devices. Sebastian Hoogstadt, Global Channel Manager for Motorola Solutions, says, “Microsoft technology is the standard in enterprise mobility because of manageability, reliability in the field, and the high level of support.”
Toshiba TEC and Bouwmaat deployed 290 devices throughout 47 stores. Bouwmaat reports that it takes just half a day to get the solution up and running in a store, including training employees. The NAV Anywhere interface, which runs natively in the ERP system, is accessed through web browsers running on mobile devices.
Employees swipe an identity card through the built-in reader and immediately gain real-time access to the ERP system and the latest pricing information. Then, after scanning a barcode, staff are guided through a step-by-step process to create the order without leaving the customer’s side. Connectivity with the corporate data center also helps keep information current.
The data center collects sales data from each store and, in turn, pushes out promotions and ensures that each store has the same information on customers, products, and suppliers. Benefits
By providing real-time access to ERP data with a web-based application running on Windows Embedded handheld devices, Bouwmaat is improving business insight, saving time, improving efficiency with a familiar interface, and enhancing customer service.
Improves Business Decisions with Improved Connectivity
Dynamics Anywhere created a lightweight, streamlined solution that provides direct access to ERP data. “With the Microsoft platform and Windows Embedded, we can provide a single reality from the data center to the front of the store,” says Bootsman. “The information in the ERP system is exactly what staff see on their handheld devices. As a result, the quality of the decisions people make is as good as it can be.”
Saves Time with Streamlined Workflow
|By using mobile devices running Windows Embedded, we can walk around the store with people instead of standing behind a terminal. Our business concept is based on knowing our customer, and this solution helps us build better relationships. |
| Annelies Bootsman|
Administrative Organization Specialist
By sharing real-time information between devices and back-office servers, Bouwmaat is saving time and serving customers more efficiently. “Customer service is much faster with a solution based on Windows Embedded and NAV Anywhere,” says Bootsman. “We don’t have to walk to the office to look up information because it’s right there on the Motorola Solutions handheld device. With access to real-time information, we’re saving about two hours per store each week. And each store saves an additional half hour weekly by automating data entry.
Improves Efficiency with Better Usability
Running on Windows Embedded, the simplified NAV Anywhere interface is easy to use for all employees. “The NAV Anywhere interface based on Windows Embedded gives employees an automated, step-by-step process to follow,” says Bootsman. “And nowadays everyone has smartphones, and a mobile device like this is very familiar, which helps them adapt more easily to new technology.”
Enhances Customer Relationships
Less time spent looking for information gives staff more time with customers and helps them improve service. “By using mobile devices running Windows Embedded, we can walk around the store with people instead of standing behind a terminal,” says Bootsman. “Our business concept is based on knowing our customer, and this solution helps us build better relationships.” This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.