Smaller firms opt for access from anywhere

Red Rat, which makes clothes for teenagers and young adults, attributes its business success to a sophisticated customer database and tightly controlled inventory and pricing.

Red Rat, which makes clothes for teenagers and young adults, attributes its business success to a sophisticated customer database and tightly controlled inventory and pricing.

Microsoft’s SBS (Small Business Server) is the foundation of Red Rat’s IT. Point of sale, CRM, stock transfer, staff analysis, inventory, sales analysis and stocktake applications are supported by it.

Having web-based applications running across the company intranet means the system can be accessed from anywhere.

The SBS-based solution was implemented in partnership with reseller Retail Expertise.

Red Rat is a finalist in this year’s Excellence in the Use of IT in a Small to Medium Enterprise category of the Computerworld awards, along with P&A Construction and Maxnet.

The second finalist, P&A Construction, uses a custom-built mobile application, dbonairtime, to track the movements of its construction staff.

Dbonairtime, aka Airtime, was built for P&A Construction by dbonair, a past winner of the mobile internet section of the Tuanz awards.

P&A uses Dbonairtime to enter timesheet data via any mobile device, either by WAP or Pocket PC, the latter of which allows project managers to enter many timesheets at once.

Once entered, the data is available via the internet. In a further extension of the project, another application, Airport, has been developed with P&A partners iMC2 and Webspeed.

It allows dbonair and P&A project managers to update each other with new information submitted via mobile handsets. The project has improved timesheet workflow considerably, P&A says.

It describes dbonair as a “database in the sky”.

The third finalist, Auckland ISP Maxnet, entered the awards on the strength of STEM7, its custom-built ERP system.

Sales, e-commerce, accounts receivable, CRM, distribution and some aspects of network management are performed via STEM7, which Maxnet began developing in 2000.

Maxnet has acquired four other ISPs since then. STEM7 enabled customer and product information from the acquisitions to be quickly integrated with Maxnet’s own data.

An inhouse-developed ERP system was seen as the best way forward, after reviewing the option of an outsourced service. It was built from a single MySQL database and written in PHP.

Staff, customers, resellers and partners can access STEM7 through customised web portals.

The Excellence in the Use of IT in a Small to Medium Enterprise category of the Computerworld awards is sponsored by Microsoft.

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