Seeing the bigger picture

When the consulting firm David Kuehner worked for went bust in late 2003, in lieu of a severance package, this chief technology officer opted instead for the rights to the company’s software, something he saw more value in than the owners.

Kuehner realized the potential of the supply chain management software during the year and a half spent beta-testing with a few of the consulting firm’s clients.

“The genesis (of the software) was in those projects,” he said.

After spending some time improving the application, a Web-based tool for purchasing and supply chain management, Kuehner formed B2B Connex in 2004.

Based in Hamilton, Ont., Kuehner said B2B Connex offers mid-to large-sized manufacturers a supply chain collaboration solution built on two modules: B2B Connex Portal and B2B Connex Direct.

The former module enables companies to share business documents like purchase orders, change orders and payment notification through a Web-based portal.

B2B Connex Direct coordinates electronic business communication through file transfers or direct connectivity from a manufacturer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to those suppliers and distributors.

“We’ve sped up the cycle and made it more accurate, reducing errors,” said Kuehner. “It’s all about keeping people up-to-date with their data.”

The cost of the B2B Connex supply chain software varies based on the number of documents a company requires, said Kuehner.

“Things like purchase orders, sales orders and request for quotations are modules in the software which will increase the price based on how many will be transfered back and forth,” he explained. “There’s also an incremental amount based on how many plants are benefiting from the solution.”

On partner watch

For a single site, single document solution with a simple implementation, the price starts at $15,000, said Kuehner. But for larger implementations across organizations with multiple manufacturing plants that cost can go up to $100,000.

Two of B2B Connex’s six customers have been using the solution for two years.

Briggs & Stratton, a Milwaukee-based engine and machinery manufacturer, uses the system to communicate with its maintenance, repair and overhaul vendors. In addition, the manufacturer uses B2B Connex to send payment schedules to suppliers as cheques are produced in its SAP system.

Mueller Canada, a manufacturer of fire hydrants and valves, is another long time customer, said Kuehner.

The company uses the B2B Connex portal application as a way to reduce supplier lead times, confirm supplier delivery dates and eliminate price discrepancies.

The ISV is also partnering with software companies like Burlington, Ont.-based Avantis to sell its product.

“We can sell it as a packaged module into a specific market that is already using a known purchasing product,” said Kuehner.

“We’re interested in partners that have an ERP system that our sofware can be tagged along with as a module.”

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