Unlike most start-ups, General Imaging began with a bang. As the exclusive licensee for General Electric’s first-ever line of digital cameras, General Imaging opened its doors in the spring of 2007 to do business with the world’s largest retailers. That meant it needed a streamlined electronic data interchange (EDI) solution in place to automate order entry and processing.
The company’s first platform decision was Microsoft Dynamics GP as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. “Dynamics GP is absolutely vital, as it manages the core of our business,” says Wael Ghanem, General Imaging’s finance manager. “We asked our business partner to suggest an EDI provider that would help maximize our ERP investment. They recommended RedTail Solutions for two key reasons. One was the quality and scalability of RedTail’s EDI technology. The other was their business model, which includes EDI hosting and support services. Since we didn’t have an EDI support team on board, and didn’t want to hire one, RedTail’s approach made a lot of sense.”
Today General Imaging has integrated Dynamics GP with Redtail’s fully managed EDI solution. Trading partners place purchase orders, which arrive offsite at RedTail as raw EDI data. There they are checked for errors, translated, mapped to a common RedTail format, and then automatically delivered to General Imaging, where they are input to Microsoft Dynamics GP for processing.
“One of the biggest benefits of the RedTail solution is that General Imaging can display orders in a very user-friendly format,” says David Truong, IT administrator. “Once received, a designated person checks the purchase order, routes it for approval, and imports it into Dynamics with the click of a mouse. The system is easy to learn and easy to use, because the interfaces are so intuitive.”
Major global retailers typically refuse to work with suppliers except via EDI. So newcomer General Imaging was in a rush to implement EDI technology to jump-start its cash flow. To get up and running as quickly as possible, ERP and EDI were installed as stand-alone systems, with plans for integration later as time permitted. As a result, key trading partners went live less than six weeks after the project started – an amazingly short time frame.
As trading partners came aboard, it became clear that integration was a priority. “Both our ERP and EDI were terrific systems. But since at first they didn’t talk to one another, we had to input purchase orders manually. This required one person full time on the ordering side, and two people in accounting on the invoicing side – which was very time consuming, and inevitably resulted in errors. Soon, manual processes had become totally impractical,” explains Truong.
RedTail’s GP interface now allows the two systems to function completely in concert. “The improvements have been remarkable,” says Ghanem. “We now have almost total end-to-end automation. An order that once took two hours can now be processed in about five minutes with a single click of the mouse. This allows us to allocate staff resources to more important areas, freeing up time for other tasks. Without integrated EDI, we would have had to hire at least one additional full-time employee.”
Additional savings come from outsourcing EDI management to RedTail Solutions. “Basically, RedTail is our EDI department. We’ve been able to avoid hiring at least two full-time IT employees by utilizing their expertise instead,” Ghanem says.
General Imaging has only good things to say about its partner’s service. “RedTail Solutions truly goes the extra mile. Whatever our question, they jump to provide an answer. They are very good at clarifying issues, troubleshooting and delivering quick resolution. Also, they are very responsive to our suggestions, so we see constant improvements,” notes Truong.
A recent story tells it all. “We had an enormous shipment going out to one of the world’s best-known retailers, and were crunched for time. We had only four days to get everything packed and shipped – plus create a customized EDI set up. RedTail’s implementation manager worked on our project for three days around the clock, and made it happen. She pulled a miracle for us,” says Ghanem.
“If you need EDI, RedTail’s solution is the obvious choice,” comments Truong. “Rather than just being a vendor, RedTail collaborates closely with you in a true partnership – so you can forget about EDI technology and focus on your core business.”
RedTail Solutions®, Inc.,
69 Milk Street, Suite 100
Westborough, MA 01581