Centralis helps Friedman Corporation modernize order entry for made-to-order manufacturers
Friedman Corporation is the niche leader in ERP software for high-volume, multi-plant, and complex to-order manufacturing industries. Over 1100 sites worldwide use Friedman’s configuration-based software solution to manage sales, ordering, production and distribution.
Friedman sought to develop a next-generation user interface for Frontier, its order entry and product configuration software. The existing application relied on character-based 5250 displays on AS400 frameworks. While current customers accepted the interface, they often complained of the exceedingly long training periods required for new users to learn the system. In addition, the green screen displays frequently made a significant negative impression on potential new customers in sales contexts.
The company retained Centralis to define a vision for the next generation system that would win over existing "green screen" users, align the software more closely with user goals and order entry needs, decrease training time, maintain or increase user productivity, and make a positive impression in sales demonstrations.
Our team conducted a series of ethnographic customer visits to observe the current system and better understand the work processes of those who use it by following orders from start to finish. We documented the strengths and limitations of the current interface for meeting users’ needs and identified opportunities to adapt the product to address variable business processes.
Based on our research, we designed a next generation GUI interface that uses layering and user-level customization to accelerate order entry and dramatically reduce interface complexity. Consistent with user feedback, the system is designed to support an entirely mouse-free data entry process.
Within 6 months of unveiling the new software, Friedman had a waiting list of existing customers asking to be transitioned to the new system. Our client has described the initiative as a "complete success."
Field research to study the order entry process