BPR works for developers at United Stationers Supply

Client/Server Development - Honorable Mention
BPR works for developers at United Stationers Supply
April 1998

COMPANY: United Stationers Supply Co., Des Plains, Ill.
PURPOSE: To maintain accurate price and cost information

APPLICATION: Price and Cost System -- Business Process Reengineering (BPR), which business school types pushed with a fervor during the early 1990s, has worked wonders for the development organization at United Stationers Supply Co., a Des Plains, Ill., wholesale distributor of business products.

The BPR effort was launched at United Stationers in 1994 and led to the 1996 development of a pricing services system, which earned an honorable mention in the 1996 Application Development Trends Innovator Awards competition. The second phase of the BPR effort for the development unit, building a price and cost system, is similarly honored this year.

The latest application allows the distributor to maintain accurate price and cost information on more than 30,000 items in 41 distribution centers.

Robert Niedzwiecki, project director for application development, said United Stationers was able to utilize the PowerBuilder experience gained by developers in the first project to speed up the process of building the price and cost application.

PowerBuilder was used to first build prototypes for the application's graphical interfaces. The prototypes served as a starting point for each piece of functionality in the new system, he said.>/p>

For this project, the company did utilize a formal methodology, the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) from Computer Partners, Waltham, Mass., to move through the requirements definition, design and implementation phases of the project. The team also used Microsoft Corp.'s project management tool, Microsoft Project, to measure progress for weekly reports to I/S management.

The company utilized internal developers on the project, selecting members with a diversity of experience. The team's developers had experience in PowerBuilder and C++, the database administrators had skills in relational databases and in Microsoft's SQL Server software, and the managers of the team were experienced both in mainframe and client/server development projects. The team was provided training in PowerBuilder, C++, SQL Server, database tuning and performance and Windows NT.

Niedzwiecki said the results of the project did meet the expectations of the BPR study.

- Michael W. Bucken


ERGIN USKUP, MIS vice president and CIO

JOHN KAWA, director of application development

ROBERT NIEDZWIECKI, project director, application development and year 2000

DEBBIE BUCHHOLZ, project leader

PAM GALLAMORE, systems analyst

JEFF PYRCZAK, senior analyst programmer

TRACY SCHUMP, analyst programmer

ANDY FAIRBANKS, senior programmer

BILL STROMING, manager of database administration

JOHN CLARKE, director of operations and technology

PowerBuilder 5.0(Sybase Inc., Emeryville, Calif.)

System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) (Computer Partners, Waltham, Mass.)

Microsoft Project

Visual C++ (Microsoft Corp.)

Team Test (Rational/SQA)

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.