System-Enterprises LLC, a Clearwater, FL, USA based company is engaged in identifying ideas and turning them into global brands. To succeed in their goal, we could sense their unstated requirement of a business automation solution that would become the speed benchmark for all order processing systems. The system was to define their business process so unambiguously that it could be flawlessly used even by minimally trained staff.    

Challenge

Business automation solution 

The requirement was to provide a custom ERP + CRM + eCommerce solution that could be easily adapted to the needs of their growing business and that too incrementally. Before coming to us, they had already been unsatisfactorily served by two other service providers, hence they were that much more skeptical. Mr. Steven Mueller, the President, System-Enterprises LLC. is a visionary and has amazing clarity of what he wants.

Reliable infrastructure 

Apart from customising and deploying, a business automation solution requires complete infrastructure deployment, maintenance and support. The need herein was a stable always available environment, securing the same, reliable scheduled backups, on-demand scalability and more.

Continuous monitoring and maintenance 

Over the years as the data volume grew, arose the need for database fine-tuning and optimisation. With e-commerce being handled by the same server and an increasing number of prospective customers arriving at it, arose the pressing need of pro-active monitoring and round-the-clock support.

Our approach

We employed the ‘Use – Identify a gap – Enhance – Deploy – Use’ cycle. Since the default modules were functionaly working, although at times incomplete or erroneous which may be attributed to the high state of flux in some opensource projects, using them “as is” was still recommended. This helped us become productive at the earliest and maximised the return on investment. This approach helped them start using the system within a few days of deployment.

We started off with exchanging the requirements over email and spreadsheets and at the very onset we knew that for this project to succeed, we definitely needed something better that could help us meet these requirements at a minimum:

  • Communication hurdles that could result from operating in different time-zones.

  • Maintain transparency at all stages – requirement analysis, estimation, development progress and delivery.

  • Ability to generate periodic reports to evaluate the effort spent for certain release cycles.

  • All the above was to be achieved unobtrusively with minimal procedural overhead.

  • Prioritise and discuss tasks without getting overly complicated in the process.

  • Ability to easily search through the huge data that shall amass over the project’s lifetime.

  • Expressing ourselves in more than just plain words i.e. images with annotations, structured text, file versioning and all the above with audit capabilities.

Like the common adage – “Necessity is the mother of all invention”, we quickly seized upon this opportunity to put in place a project management system by customising Kablink Vibe under our flagship service iaCollab. The initial working version was deployed within 2 days and has continuously evolved ever since. It helped us achieve all the above without any delay or additional cost to the client.

 

With the help of Amazon Web services we were able to address the infrastructure challenge without adding a huge cost burden and it is indeed a most economical solution compared to any other alternative. Prior to this project, we had almost no knowledge about the workings of [AWS]{Amazon Web Services}. But once it was identified that this is the solution in the best interests of our client, we took up the challenge and dug in gaining expertise about the platform and its nuances. Within 2 weeks we had configured all the AWS service elements that delivered the perfect infrastructure required for such a business solution.

Results

       There has been no looking back since then. The deployed solution has gone from strength to strength as it has seen more than 200 bug fixes and several new feature deployments thanks to the joint efforts of Mr. Mueller’s vision and our development team’s abilities. The system now fits the operations of System-Enterprises LLC. like a tight glove.

Having an in-house infrastructure management team proved a blessing in disguise as we were readily able to address several system level issues – such as disk full, AWS EC2 capacity expansion, configuring scheduled backups to S3 with custom scripts, setting up secure firewalled access or setting up secure email gateway configuration.

We can’t thank Mr. Mueller enough for the innumerable words of encouragement and trust reposed on us. Given his backing and mature outlook towards operations and systems, we have been able to develop, deliver and maintain a fully functional business automation solution encompassing e-commerce, CRM, inventory, shipping and complete order management with complete confidence.

From 2011 to this day, the cycle of innovation on this project continues as we look forward to taking it to new heights with every passing day.