Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and .Net Facilitate Field Order Processing on a Tablet PC
Order entry, why do it twice?
The client, a farm products manufacturer, had an antiquated process for taking orders from growers. Hand-written order forms were filled out at the customer's farms and sent to corporate headquarters by US Mail, where they were re-keyed into the order processing system. This process caused a significant delay in receiving the orders, which led to inventory problems. The manufacturer was forced to keep large amount of product on hand to account for potential orders. Consequently, there was always a certain quantity of unsold product. They needed a solution that would significantly reduce the amount of time that orders take to arrive at corporate and to standardize the order taking process.
Changing the Process and the Past
The remote location of the customer had always been a problem. Even with the increase in communications network availability, an on-line solution was not always practical. A locally hosted, off-line solution that could be uploaded at the end of the day was the most logical approach.
Adoption by the field salespeople was also a concern. The new system had to be easy to use with a user-friendly interface that was an improvement over the handwritten order forms. It also had to have certain controls so orders could only be for the particular site..
Remove Order Entry
PSC developed a Windows-based application running on Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 to allow the client’s sales force to enter orders from growers on a tablet PC transfer or take warehouse inventory of product on hand. Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express was used as the application database. Orders that were taken were stored locally in the application database until the salespeople connected to the client’s network and sent the data to the corporate SQL Server via the process of merge replication. This provided the home office with up to date order and inventory information.
Another requirement was to allow management to have more control over what salespeople could enter when taking orders. This was accomplished by limiting what the salespeople could see by region. Control of this information was made possible through an administration application at corporate headquarters. The administration application also allowed the printing of order and inventory reports which eliminated the issues of legibility encountered on handwritten order forms. Salespeople were provided barcode scanners for use during the delivery and inventory to expedite entry of product information.