Furniture firm adopts ERP

After three quarters of a century spent furnishing its customers with comfort, a Western Canadian furniture and carpet retailer says it’s putting employees at ease by implementing a mini-ERP software solution.

Jordans, a Vancouver-based business specializing in home and commercial furnishings

and floor coverings, has selected Ottawa.-based Icode Inc.’s Everest, an ERP solution designed with the small business owner in mind.

Icode — a solution provider and ISV with over 2,500 small businesses in 30 countries running on Everest — launched last month the latest version of its “”mini-ERP”” solution, Everest Advanced Edition 2.0.

The software, available for under US$2,300, offers, among other things: increased fraud protection; an enhanced item matrix; multiple Web store integration; and an enhanced QuickBooks import.

For Jordans, which has 32 divisions in 15 locations in B.C. and Alta. and employs 400 people, the Everest solution helps the company deal with every segment of its business, said Michel Petit, national sales manager for Icode.

“”It gives them the level of integration, but also the ability to deal with different segments of the business,”” he said, calling it the digital nervous system.

“”All of the information is easily accessible. You don’t need to be a software guru, as an end user, to use Everest and that’s such a great value for small to mid-sized companies.””

And while Icode isn’t alone in pumping out small business solutions in the ERP space, Petit said many competitive solutions are designed from an accounting perspective and lack a broader look and feel.

“”The value is we can be as simple as the user needs or as advanced.”” The goal, he says, is to offer case management.

Jim Jordan-Knox, the grandson of the chain’s founder and vice-president of information management services, said he expects the biggest benefit of the solution will be a drastic reduction in paperwork.

“”Right now a lot of the parts of our program are not integrated to each other and we end up handling pieces of paper for a multitude of items. It’s inefficient and makes things like balancing inventory a horrendous job,”” Jordan-Knox said.

In fact, Steven Toole, vice-president of Icode, projected that the furniture chain will be able to eliminate approximately 80 per cent of its current paperwork once the rollout of Everest is completed in December.

But getting the data to a point where it can be used in a fully integrated environment is likely going to be the biggest challenge, Toole said.

“”Where companies have traditionally operated out of stovepipe systems with separate accounting software, separate inventory software, separate processing and sales software — it has to be centralized and consistent. It is a challenge, but it is a part of maturing as a company to streamline operations,”” Toole said.

He likened the transition to the changeover experienced in central Europe when currencies were changed to the Euro.

“”It’s more efficient now, but there was a period where everybody was between currencies and had to figure out how to convert their Lira to Euros. Now that they’ve gone through the maturity stage, everyone knows what the Euro is and everything’s consistent. That’s what has to happen here from a data standpoint,”” Toole said.

Jordan-Knox expects challenges in training staff to make the best use of Everest. Until now, most data has been sent to Jordans’ head office for processing. With the implementation of Everest, this processing will be done at the store level.

“”I expect training is going to be expensive, because this is work that’s not been done at the store level before, with a few exceptions,”” Jordan-Knox said. “”Certainly that’s going to be an interesting proposition, but the people who have been involved so far have been enthusiastic. Everyone’s aware that we need to do something, and what they’ve seen so far they’re enthusiastic about.””

When shopping for a solution, Jordan-Knox said that the three most important items on the company’s wish list were the capacity to deal with floor coverings as well as furniture and the ability to perform job costing. With Everest, Jordans found all three, he said.

Everest will also be used for accounting, inventory control, sales and marketing management, purchasing and returned merchandise authorizations.

Toole said Everest will allow Jordans to monitor in real-time the actual amount of square feet remaining on each carpet roll.

“”It is difficult to keep track of how much remains on a roll of carpet, because it’s cut in different lengths every time. We are able to accommodate that through Everest with its capabilities of tracing items through different metrics,”” Toole said.

— With files from Jennifer M. O’Brien

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