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BCD Helps K3S Modernize User Interface for Multiple Devices, Cloud

by System iNetwork
Published: September 1st, 2011

Private i: Inside Solutions is an opportunity from System iNEWS for IBM i and Power Systems vendors to describe, in a Q&A format, a customer success story involving one of their products. System iNEWS receives no payment from the vendor, and the vendor receives no payment from System iNEWS. Publication is based on whether System iNEWS editors feel the article is of value to readers. Some editing is done to the vendor's answers for continuity and clarity.

K3S searched for the best way to modernize its inventory management software for eight years before choosing BCD’s Presto solution. K3S wanted to give its software a new look that would satisfy existing green-screen users and new users. It also wanted the software to be accessible from multiple devices via the web and to offer a cloud solution for organizations that don’t already own an IBM i box.

Tell us about your customer.

K3S, Inc., is a software research and development company based in Atlanta that specializes in demand forecasting for wholesale and retail distribution. It has worked with distribution centers across North America for over 20 years to provide accurate demand forecasts for products and help them run lean, yet ensure products are in the warehouse when they’re ordered.

How does K3S use i?

K3S has three machines running IBM i: one for development (iSeries model M15 running i 6.1), one for production (i5-515 model running i 6.1), and one for its cloud solution (Power 720 model running i 7.1). K3S-Replenish, the company’s inventory management solution, is designed to work with any type of ERP system on any server. It hooks into iSeries ERP solutions, Windows ERP solutions, and UNIX ERP solutions. The typical business user has two to 10 buyers using the software.

What specific problem sparked K3S’s search for a new solution?

K3S had been running a successful inventory replenishment program on the iSeries since 1990. Customers told the software company that new employees often had never interacted with a green screen and that it needed to modernize the look of its software package.

What requirements did K3S have for modernizing its software interface?

The users of K3S-Replenish work in the purchasing departments of its customers’ businesses, so the GUI needed to be easy to learn and easy to transition to for existing users.

As K3S looked to the future, it realized it needed to offer a solution that would not require customers to purchase and maintain an iSeries server onsite just to run its solution. K3S needed to offer a cloud option. The company knew—looking towards the future—it wanted a solution that wouldn’t be tied to any particular platform or software for interfacing on the client side (e.g., Client Access). K3S wanted something that could handle PCs, Macs, smartphones, or tablets.

How did BCD’s Presto fit the bill?

Presto is an iBM i 5250 web enabling solution that let K3S create graphical skins for its “green screen” product and deliver them via the web to its software customers on multiple devices, including mobile. Presto also let K3S add new functionality to its web-enabled screens.

K3S spent at least eight years looking for a solution that would let it deliver a clean, modern interface without having to rewrite the entire package. After trying a number of products, K3S ultimately concluded that BCD’s Presto product provided everything it was looking for.

How has Presto contributed to K3S’s overall efficiency?

The Presto implementation went smoothly considering the scope of K3S’s project, which included giving a GUI to more than 1,000 green screens. K3S wanted to keep the benefits of being on IBM i while creating a web-based interface and not having to rewrite millions of lines of code. Presto let K3S maintain the same database, code and workflow. K3S developers didn’t have to make any changes to the company’s RPG logic. K3S could beta test K3S-Silverswitch at customer sites alongside green screen use.

The transition to K3S-Silverswitch has gone smoothly for K3S’s software users. The ability to access the inventory management solution on tablets and Macs in addition to PCs, and the fact that no additional hardware or software is required, has also been a big plus.