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ISM Article

Furnishing Efficiency

1 Jul, 2012 By: Square 9 Softworks imageSource

SmartSearchA growing office furniture dealership streamlined its core business processes with SmartSearch, and is realizing overall efficiency gains of 50 percent or more Founded in 1968, Newington, Connecticut-based OFI is a growing office furniture dealership representing the Herman Miller line. The company’s customer base ranges from small businesses to the Fortune 100, including companies such as Disney, ESPN, The Hartford Insurance Group and Webster Bank.

OFI partners with construction companies and top-rated architectural and design firms to provide value-engineered solutions for the workplace. “OFI helps our customers to reduce costs while creating beautiful and functional work environments that allow them to attract and retain the best and brightest employees,” said Matthew D. Danyliw, CPA, Chief Financial Officer for OFI. “The quality and depth of the relationships we establish with our customers and partners sets OFI apart from competitors.”

In a competitive field that includes a number of major furniture lines, the Herman Miller furniture brand provides OFI with a competitive edge. “Herman Miller has a well-deserved reputation for being ahead of the curve in their product research and development, and is a leader in design functionality and green initiatives,” said Deborah Laviero, OFI’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.

SmartSearch is OFI’s central repository for all documents associated with customer orders such as purchase orders, invoices for labor and products and delivery receipts, including documents generated by subcontractors. OFI uses SmartSearch to manage its Accounts Payable processes and employs the solution’s advanced workflow tools to automate and streamline many business processes that had been performed manually. The company achieves greater efficiencies through SmartSearch’s customized integration with Khameleon, OFI’s Oracle-based project accounting software.

“In only 10 months since its implementation, SmartSearch has already helped OFI to realize average overall efficiency gains of 50 percent or more in our operations and sales processes,” Danyliw said. “These dramatic efficiency gains are contributing directly to enhanced bottom line performance and are producing quantifiable improvements in customer service. SmartSearch also helps streamline routine audits.” According to Danyliw, following OFI’s acquisition of a division of a competitor, SmartSearch is helping OFI to manage 50-percent higher business volumes with a minimal investment in labor.

On behalf of a diverse customer base, OFI executes projects ranging in value from many millions of dollars to less than two hundred dollars. Because OFI subcontracts all of its installation work the company must rely on subcontractors to provide original documents from customers. Regardless of an order’s value, as many as eight or more individuals routinely require access to various project documents during the lifecycle of an order, including subcontractors; accounting, design and sales staff; and others.

“Having so many people touching multiple paper documents was extremely inefficient and sometimes resulted in important documents getting misplaced or lost,” Danyliw explained. We began searching for a way to centralize key business information so people across the organization could easily and quickly access documents and archive them securely. We then quickly realized that we also needed a workflow management system to automate our business processes.”

Smart Solution

OFI evaluated seven different solutions before choosing SmartSearch, some costing upwards of six figures. “SmartSearch is an excellent value,” said Danyliw. “It has proven to be a very cost-effective way for us to implement a feature-rich content management system and to develop sophisticated workflow processes; it has a nice, clean design and is easy to learn and use.” Additionally, “Under our old paper-based system, one of our biggest challenges had been working efficiently with subcontractors,” Danyliw explained. “Because they are our primary point of contact with customers, these subcontractors must coordinate very closely with us on scheduling, quotations, purchase orders and proof-of-delivery receipts. Managing these processes and documents with SmartSearch has dramatically reduced the lifecycle of our orders, and we were able to cut the length of our billing cycle by 12 full days. That’s a huge efficiency gain, especially with large orders.”

“We maintain a special status report for a large customer,” Danyliw continued. “By converting from an Excel spreadsheet to a SmartSearch-based report, we cut the time our staff required to update the report by over 90%, favorably impressing this important customer in the process.”

The SmartSearch solution provides OFI’s executives, managers and their staffs with instantaneous access to vital order information across the company’s 7 locations. “Now, thanks to SmartSearch, all the information I need is literally at my fingertips.” Info at www.square-9.com.

About the Author: Square 9 Softworks

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