Hail Cesar: Italian Manufacturer Modernizes with looksoftware and RPG OA
February 18, 2014 Alex Woodie
Europeans who are remodeling their kitchens may be familiar with Cesar, an Italian manufacturer of modular kitchen components. While Cesar improves the look and utility of 11,000 kitchens per year, the company was struggling to manage orders effectively due to an aging IBM i-based application. After adopting modernization tools from looksoftware, the company is concentrating on kitchens again.
Like many small and midsize Italian firms, Cesar developed its own IBM i application with good old RPG. Its homegrown ERP system handles most aspects of Cesar’s operations, including all accounting and customer, product, and order information.
While the ERP system handles accounting and manufacturing needs, Cesar’s front-end kitchen design software runs on Windows. The Windows software worked well enough for creating kitchen designs, but Cesar’s employees struggled to managed the orders effectively in the green-screen IBM i system. The “cumbersome paging navigation” so common in 5250 environments was a big drain on user productivity, especially considering all the different components and permutations that are possible with 10 modern and four traditional kitchen designs.
Cesar wanted to manage orders graphically instead of managing them in a green-screen 5250 format. They wanted to access the entire order and customer information at one time, and they also wanted to pull up the order details in Excel and see design documents in PDFs.
Once the modernization topic was broached, the company threw in a couple of additional requirements. Due to Cesar’s success, the company was growing into new markets, and therefore it wanted any new software to be multi-lingual compatible, as well as Unicode and DBCS compliant.
The company’s small IT shop set out to find a modernization solution that fit the bill. “We wanted a solution that could serve all our requirements, but since I am the only RPG developer and IT manager at Cesar, we also required good local support and tools that are easy to learn and use,” Cesar’s IT manager Giuseppe Bozzo says in a looksoftware case study.
Sidim, an IT consultancy in Italy, introduced Bozzo to openlook, looksoftware’s modernization tool based on IBM‘s RPG Open Access technology. “As soon as I heard about RPG Open Access, I was intrigued,” Bozzo says. “I was introduced to looksoftware’s openlook and quickly realized that this is exactly what we needed.”
Cesar adopted several looksoftware tools, including newlook, openlook, and smartclient, as part of its ERP modernization project. Bozzo says the capability to deploy to both rich Windows clients for internal users and Web clients for resellers was a big plus.
Cesar was able to solve its first requirement quickly, which was to display all order information on one screen, thereby eliminating the need for users to page up and down through sub-files. “This alone has made our users much more productive at managing customer orders,” Bozzo says.
The integration to PDF and Excel files also lifted a big burden off Cesar users. “These tasks have been automated with just a mouse click, and our users are much more productive,” Bozzo says.
Moving forward, Cesar is prepared to support the application in other countries. The company is expanding in Russia, and the capability to give resellers there access to the IBM i system will help the company grow.