The Sigconnect project came about from a problem that our client SIGMA PLC had with their customer order platform. The previously used order module was developed to work with their ageing ERP system years ago. Not only was this software well past its useful lifespan, but it was also very cumbersome, un user friendly as well as being unreliable and breaking down frequently. It worked by their clients having to download a piece of software and installing it on their PC (Apple Mac OS was not supported let alone tablet and mobile devices). It operated by downloading a CSV file from Sigma’s ERP system which contained all the current stock levels and pricing. The software would load the CSV stock file to the client’s local PC and use this to extract the current products and prices to be used in the software cart function. Once the order basket was complete with the products they wanted, it would then send the order file across to a sales operator to manually process through their main sales order system at head office. This was fine and quite cutting edge in the 90’s when it was developed, but with todays standards this really needed to be more user friendly and process orders with more automation.
Our idea was to build a custom online platform which we aptly named the “Order Pad” which would work through any internet enabled web browser on any kind of operating system, mobile device or tablet. This type of challenge that we often like to take on I should stress, is not for that faint hearted, as all we had to work with was a very old ERP system called Concerto which although still works to this day had started to show its limitations. The option to migrate and install a totally new ERP like SAP would not only be very disruptive to the current flow, but would also cost in excess of £100,000 and so this was not really a viable option.
The end result is a very fast, intuitive, well presented, secure and easy to use online ordering system which manages everything from setting up an account with multiple branches and managers to saving wish lists and previous orders which can be repeated in a couple of clicks. The client specified that the product search was crucial that it worked fast, so we created a system whereby as soon as you start typing a product name or code the results would appear as quick as you would type, narrowing the search results down as more letters are punched in. Another requirement was to enable our client to assign a product price list specific to that client with their special discounts built in, so each client can have their own unique and agreed upon price contract. Our system has to connect to their ERP in the background many times per day to update stock levels and pricing in real time.