"RemoteWare triggered a chain reaction that has had a phenomenal impact on every part of our business."
Director of IT
Based in Upper Marlboro, MD, Murry's is a manufacturer, distributor and retailer of food products. In order to manage the daily communication of business critical data between headquarters and remote sites, Murry's IT staff was pushing and pulling data to and from each location one-by-one via dial up 1-800 lines. This process generally took five to six hours every night and required a dedicated staff member to monitor the lines and reconnect the lines that were dropped or busy during the transfer. To speed up the process RemoteWare was installed and immediately had a huge impact on Murry's operations. The data exchange process, which previously had been taking almost 6 hours a night, was now taking less than an hour. Business Advantage Key Benefits Sybase Technology Industry
Based in Upper Marlboro, MD, Murry's is a manufacturer, distributor and retailer of food products. In order to manage the daily communication of business critical data between headquarters and remote sites, Murry's IT staff was pushing and pulling data to and from each location one-by-one via dial up 1-800 lines. This process generally took five to six hours every night and required a dedicated staff member to monitor the lines and reconnect the lines that were dropped or busy during the transfer. To speed up the process RemoteWare was installed and immediately had a huge impact on Murry's operations. The data exchange process, which previously had been taking almost 6 hours a night, was now taking less than an hour.
Sybase iAnywhere Provides the Missing Link in Murry's Operations
From its humble beginnings in the 1940s as a manufacturer of quality, affordable frozen food products for mom-and-pop markets and restaurants, Murry's has morphed and expanded its successful business initiatives to include retail operations and distribution services of its famous French Toast Sticks and other quick-and-easy meals. Today, you can find Murry's frozen goods in 54 Murry's stores in six Mid-Atlantic States, as well as in the freezer cases of large supermarkets, restaurants and independently owned establishments around the country.
As a manufacturer, distributor and retailer of food products, Murry's wears several hats along the grocery supply chain. Production, shipping and receiving logistics are extremely important to them, as its own stores depend on its ability to produce and deliver the goods in a timely manner-late or inaccurate orders not only affect the business from a customer perspective, but also affect Murry's ability to meet its own demand and profit requirements. Critical to the company's success are its supply chain management technologies to keep the links from kinking. Just as critical is the direct and reliable flow of data and other information between the company's headquarters in Upper Marlboro, MD, and its branch operations throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
Louis Ford, Murry's director of information technology, joined the company in 1982. Since then, he has experienced several of the company's transformations firsthand and has been instrumental in keeping the technology behind the business in stride with these continual changes. From managing the day-to-day operations of the network to planning the strategies for the next wave of change, the weight of Murry's information technology needs rests on Ford's shoulders.
When Ford joined the company, one particularly heavy burden for him was managing the daily communications of business-critical data between headquarters and the remote sites. As an IBM mainframe shop, Murry's was using what was considered a state-of-the- art program at the time to push and pull daily information such as price lists, orders, inventory, store settlements and time and attendance data to and from its remote locations via a dial-up modem on 1-800 lines.
Nightly, Ford and his staff would poll the stores and other branch operations, sending and extracting the information from each location one-by-one. The process would generally take five to six hours every night, requiring a dedicated staff member to monitor the lines and reconnect those that were dropped or busy during the transfer.
"It was an unwieldy process that drained our resources both from an economical and personnel standpoint," recalls Ford.
"We were spending valuable time and money managing an extremely important, yet mindless, project, and felt chained to a system that provided no return on investment-just expensive software rental fees and outrageous phone line charges for an inefficient process."
The Golden Key
In the early 1990s, Murry's began overhauling its systems to keep up with the latest advancements in technology, moving the existing mainframe system onto an OS2 platform. Strategic Network Design, the consulting firm brought in to manage the overhaul, noticed Murry's inefficient data exchange processes and recommended implementing RemoteWare, a remote systems management solution from iAnywhere, to automate their systems.
A reseller of RemoteWare, Strategic Network Design showed Ford and his team the cost savings and other benefits Murry's would achieve using RemoteWare. The cost analysis proved to be very appealing on paper, but as a seasoned IT professional used to hearing the promises an application would bring, Ford was more enticed by the prospect of an automated system than by cost-savings numbers in front of him.
"It definitely looked good on paper, but they always look good then-it's only after you've spent the money and implemented the system that you learn about the hidden expenses and other issues that usually drive the ROI down. It's highly unusual for applications to live up to the numbers, so I was looking at it more from a utility perspective and less from a cost-savings one. In my eyes, any savings would be an added bonus, but the real benefit to me would be the automation."
Murry's purchased RemoteWare from Strategic Network Design and in just four days, the consultant company had the system up and running on a 486 PC server at headquarters with RemoteWare clients in each of Murry's remote locations. RemoteWare's unique push-and-pull technology concurrently communicated with all 54 Murry's stores, sending daily pricelists, extracting orders, inventories, daily closeouts and time and attendance data, and flowing the information into the appropriate databases and systems for processing.
Immediately, Ford noticed the impact RemoteWare had on operations. "I couldn't believe how much faster the whole process ran-what used to take us six hours every night was now taking less than an hour. Because RemoteWare could be left alone to handle the data transfers, it freed us to focus on more critical issues."
The Missing Link
RemoteWare also changed the way the entire remote systems management was conducted, says Ford. Prior to implementing RemoteWare, headquarters would poll each store individually to acquire the information it needed. Not all of Murry's stores operate on the same hours, causing headquarters to contact several before they closed and resulting in data that was inaccurate and incomplete for that day.
With RemoteWare, Ford and his team were able to reconfigure the system to have each store contact headquarters upon its own close of business. No manual intervention or monitoring was needed at headquarters to receive it.
"It completely changed our business. Our old system sometimes caused us to miss orders, incorrectly tally sales for the day or misjudge inventories and other business-critical processes. In addition, we used to be a 24/7 operation for our IT team, requiring a staff to run the data transfer at nights and a stand-by team for the weekends. Today, we get all of the information in when the stores are ready, improving the accuracy of our books tremendously. We also run a lights-out operation at night and on weekends, saving us staffing costs and a lot of grief. RemoteWare brought efficiency and accuracy to a process that was having severe effects on our bottom line."
Fueled by the success RemoteWare was having on its internal operations, Murry's figured it could also improve some external distribution operations of its goods. Murry's identified 11 of its best independent customers and installed a PC running the RemoteWare software at the customer's site. By giving these customers a direct connection to its order and transportation systems, Murry's eliminated several steps in the order process and reduced the time it took to fulfill demands.
Additionally, these RemoteWare customer installations enabled Murry's to have better control over their production and inventory schedules, providing supply and demand information in real-time. Murry's could now produce and ship its frozen goods based on hard-core figures, not predictions and estimates.
"RemoteWare has had a ripple effect on our entire business. We get the orders in faster, which means we can get them processed faster, which means we can load the trucks faster, which means we can ship faster, etc. from manufacturing to customer service, RemoteWare triggered a chain reaction that has had a phenomenal impact on every part of our business," says Ford.
Looking back, Ford recalls his initial skepticism concerning the cost savings and other promises RemoteWare was to bring. He not only met his goal of improved data exchange efficiency, he also received the "added bonus" of a 70% cost savings using RemoteWare, he says with a laugh.
"RemoteWare exceeded the numbers on that paper, delivering more savings than what was promised and even more benefits than I ever would have thought possible. If someone had told me then that RemoteWare would have the effects on our business that it did, I would have laughed them out of the room. I guess I'm still the one left laughing-only now, from amazement that it came true. I'm excited to start looking at RemoteWare's other features and how they can improve our processes even further."