Metal Technology Solutions leads the marketplace in the design and manufacture of precision-oriented metal components and assemblies for diverse markets, including agriculture, automotive, medical, and nuclear. The company runs a high-demand, high-output manufacturing and engineering operation where improving workflow and shortening business and technology processes translates directly into a competitive advantage.
Like many manufacturing companies using Infor XA ERP (formerly MAPICS), Metal Technology Solutions also runs a document-heavy operation with five plants that send out 150 to 200 mission-critical documents per day, including sales orders, shop orders, and purchase orders.
In 2003, group of frustrated users who were overwhelmed by the hours of manual processes they had to perform each day approached IT Director Gary Baker. "The users basically asked, 'How can we reduce the number of manual faxes we send?' " recalls Baker, noting that some wasted more than four hours a day sending manual faxes.
Baker's team started researching automatic fax and electronic forms solutions. While primarily interested in recovering lost work hours, he also wanted a solution that offered cost-cutting benefits, including the elimination of preprinted forms and the ability to print AP MICR checks. Additionally, the solution needed to be easy for users and hassle-free for administrators—a tall order to say the least.
In regards to choosing a solution provider, Baker notes, "We also wanted to know how many installations were out there, how many industry awards the company had received, how long had the company been in business, and then, of course, how was technical support."
After much research, many demos, and lots of negotiations, Metal Technology Solutions decided to purchase Quadrant Software's Paperless Process Management (PPM) solutions, including the FastFax/Enterprise fax server and the Formtastic Fusion5 document design solution.
"Quadrant Software's sales staff bent over backwards to make sure we had all of our I's dotted and T's crossed," says Baker. "They answered all the questions we had and delivered on everything they promised. It wasn't a painful sales process. Believe me, I've been through those before."
Metal Technology Solutions chose to install and implement both solutions on its own. "We just looked through the documentation to see what was required of us, made one phone call to tech support, and it was up and running," recalls Baker.
He notes how happy he was with Quadrant Software's tech support team. "If I didn't get a tech support rep right away, then I usually got a call back within 1-4 hours.... Most of the time, we had a solution to the issue within 15 minutes."
It took two days to get FastFax and Formtastic installed, tested, and prepared for introduction to the users. At this point, Metal Technology Solutions took advantage of PPM's scaleable, modular architecture and gradually implemented PPM on a document-by-document and plant-by-plant basis.
"Well, basically, we rolled it out one plant at a time," explains Baker. "And it took all of about five minutes of training for the user. All they do is print the document. Then the spool file gets merged with the Formtastic form, and it goes to the FastFax queue and faxes. That's it. They don't touch it, and I receive very few calls from the users."
Finding the perfect solution and convincing users to take advantage of it are two separate battles IT professionals face. Not so with PPM. "It wasn't very hard to get users involved," states Baker. "They've told me numerous times, 'This is awesome!' They've said it just saves them so much time." In addition, the company's users can check the status of their faxes right from their desktop.
The benefits of PPM were realized quickly. "Using Formtastic, we are our own forms designer," states Baker, noting that the company's old way of designing documents was cumbersome and time-consuming, so cumbersome that Metal Technology Solutions relied on an outside consulting firm that charged $80 an hour to perform minor tasks such as changing the company contact information on a form. On average, they spent $320-$640 a month.
In comparison, Baker now uses Formtastic to make major and minor modifications to his forms as often as required without paying or waiting for consultants. "Formtastic is a lot simpler and quicker because we have the control here," says Baker. "I'm actually doing less maintenance on the forms compared to doing it the old way."
Overall, Baker was extremely satisfied with the results. "We not only saved on pre-printed forms, but we cut 15-20 hours of manual faxing a week," Baker says. "So, in some instances, we saved thousands of dollars a week in time, pre-printed forms, printers, ribbons...I mean everything."
When Baker approached executive management with the prospect of implementing a full PPM solution, they almost instantly supported it. "[They] just knew that it made good business sense," says Baker. "If you can automate, streamline, save money, be more productive, and efficient, then it's a no-brainer."
Metal Technology Solutions has been so happy with Quadrant Software's PPM solutions that it has decided to implement yet another component. "We've eliminated all of the pre-printed forms coming out of Infor XA ERP," says Baker. "The only thing that we have left to do is AP checks. We are in the process now of buying Formtastic Checks."
While Metal Technology Solutions initially wanted a solution to relieve its manual faxing woes, in Quadrant Software it found a suite of PPM solutions that solved and simplified many document management issues. "It hit on all the cylinders," states Baker. "And it exceeded my expectations on the Formtastic side because of the flexibility of the software."
He looks forward to further developing and streamlining his PPM installation. The fact that Quadrant Software's solutions have integrated with Infor XA ERP so seamlessly has made this a powerful combination that has secured Metal Technology Solutions' ERP investment by default.
Gary Langton is the CEO and Co-Founder of Quadrant Software, a leading technology company specializing in Paperless Process Management (PPM) solutions for the iSeries 400 enterprise. Quadrant Software, an IBM Business Partner, has won every major iSeries industry award for product and service excellence. Companies of all sizes rely on its document lifecycle management solutions to electronically create, capture, manage, and archive mission-critical documents and deliver them via print, fax, and email.
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