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
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.)
Visual C++ (Microsoft Corp.)
Team Test (Rational/SQA)