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Our Process of Engagement

 

Our Process of Engagement

(The House That Orbweaver Built)

The steps to assemble a software solution are similar to the process of building a house:

  1. Address the need (draw the blueprints)
  2. Determine the champion of the project (choose an on-site manager)
  3. Set a budget (finance the construction)
  4. Execute established plans (build the house)
  5. Adopt the new software (move in)

It is a very collaborative process that requires buy-in from all parties.  Knowing how a successful engagement works will increase the success of the project.

Address the Need

There’s usually one or more distinct ‘pain points’ that a company is trying to solve, and in order for technology to benefit a business, those needs must be known and quantified.  Each problem is unique and it is the client’s responsibility to clearly identify each problem they want to solve.

The construction of a custom software solution is a process shared between the client and Orbweaver.  Once established, successful clients publish a structured plan for how to implement those solutions within their organizations from both a tactical and strategic perspective.  A company’s vision may be to create a faster and more efficient way to order parts or instantly price components, or perhaps it’s to create a world-class RFQ intake system, or be the first to market with a particular type of API.  Understanding how business automation effects human resources and existing processes results in higher adoption rates and an increased rate of deployment.

Orbweaver and the client must jointly understand the distinct need and vision in order to successfully move a project forward.

Champion with Authority

The “champion with authority” should be a single point of contact who has the vision and authority to drive the project through all phases to completion.  This is often the person responsible for improving the organization – not necessarily the people who will use the product on a daily basis (though their input is critical!).

The person fiscally responsible for a company or department has the motivation to identify opportunities to make the company better, different, or more efficient.  Our most successful project champions are forward thinkers with authority to make decisions and the vision to see the end solution.  These champions create tremendous ROI for their companies.

Set A Budget

Orbweaver project budgets vary greatly depending on the needs of the client and the project, but the one universal truth is that there must be a budget.  Just like with building a house, the company has to commit financial assets to solving the business need and reaching the vision.

Our job is to advise clients on the best way to use their budget – we work with our clients to find a solution that fits within any sized budget and to maximize the return on investment.

Business automation software relieves pressure on overtaxed human resources, and bring along with it an average 10x ROI.

Project Execution

Before project execution (construction) begins, significant up-front business and technical  analysis is completed to understand what we are building, how long it will take, and what the dependencies are.  Orbweaver meets with you (usually in person) to extract this information and to establish a high degree of comfort and trust across the entire project team.  At this stage, we’re all making critical decisions together and committing to a significant endeavor.

Once construction does begin, team engagement is critical throughout the process.  As with new home construction, a homebuilder is interested in progress and stops by often. It’s the same with us – we expect you to “stop by often” to ensure things are going as agreed.  Active participation involves answering questions, keeping internal stakeholders apprised, allocating resources to support the execution of the project, and communicating with the entire project team.

With appropriate client engagement, the project will be executed perfectly.

Adoption

Adoption and engaged usage of the final product is vital to the success of the overall effort.  Leading up to and following product launch, we encourage our clients to actively market the product internally, continually soliciting feedback and keeping stakeholders and users engaged throughout.  Their buy-in and ultimate satisfaction is critical to the successful rollout of the project.

Just as it would be a shame to build a house and then have it remain empty, it would likewise be disappointing for a new project rollout to go unused.  In addition to the client’s obligation to promote, communicate, and engage users and stakeholders, Orbweaver provides on site tutorials, training, and continual support to help transition your company to the new software.

All of these services are available and we encourage our clients to take advantage of them – it is ultimately a joint responsibility of the client to ensure that the new product is not only rolled out successfully, but gains acceptance and wide adoption across the user team.

Celebrating the Move

Adopting automated software solutions to solve everyday pain points is transformative for your business.  This is an exciting time and after a successful launch, it is worth acknowledging the accomplishment.

Building and integrating business solutions with Orbweaver is most successful when you understand how the process works.  Our clients ensure their success when following these tips of engagement, and when they come into the project with an understanding of how they impact that success.

The process of creating a new and unique software platform for your business will be efficient, stress free, and cost effective – it’s time to move your business into a new era with Orbweaver.

 

Comparing Two Systems on the Orbweaver Platform

In the past year Orbweaver’s customers KEMET Corporation (Simpsonville, SC) and Sonic Manufacturing (Fremont, CA) respectively launched “Jet Stream” and “Supply Chains at the Speed of Light”- two large-scale business automation systems designed to streamline their businesses.

These solutions address different aspects of the electronic component procurement process: Jet Stream is an RFQ intake & management solution, while Supply Chain at the Speed of Light is a PO automation platform.  Both KEMET and Sonic wanted to automate different processes that were time-consuming, expensive, and completely manual.  Although the data, workflow points, and business automation of these two solutions are different, these two solutions have a few distinct similarities.

First, Jet Stream and Supply Chain at the Speed of Light are both paradigm shifts that use system to system communication and integration to automate business processes.  It is becoming widely accepted in the industry that technology must be leveraged to meet increasing price and competitive pressure.  Software technology such as the Orbweaver Platform is critical to the future and stability of organizations in the Electronic Manufacturing Industry in the coming years.

Second, both enterprise solutions require forward looking organizations who understand that technology is a mechanism for lowering operational costs, increasing accuracy & efficiency, and ultimately increasing profitability.  The paradigm shifts discussed above are to be embraced – as the industry changes, so must we all.  The good news is that the shift towards technology relieves pressure on your already-strained organization, and gets your high-value employees back to doing the things they are best at.

Finally, both automation solutions increase the velocity and accuracy of response to customers, increasing each respective company’s level of customer service.  As the industry evolves, the purchase decision centers (more and more) around the availability of information.  If the information is available, purchasers are much more likely to buy from the first to respond.

Across both solutions, Orbweaver products solve specific pain points wherever they are present in a business process.  Those pain points are distributed throughout organizations in this industry, which is more data intensive than most.  You can probably think of a few key bottlenecks in your business where spreadsheets or emailed information piles up in inboxes and is often forgotten or simply too buried to get at quickly.

Solutions such as Jetstream and Supply Chain at the Speed of Light are the answer.  They are modular and customized to meet our customer’s needs.  All Orbweaver B2B enterprise solutions are built on top of the our Platform, and all create a fast and efficient way to communicate large quantities of data, ultimately lowering costs and increasing profitability.

 

New Director, Nat’l Account and West Coast Location

Orbweaver is pleased to name Michael Frederick as Director, National Accounts. Mr. Frederick brings strong leadership skills, pro-active account strategy, and an understanding of customer needs to the Orbweaver Accounts Team. Working collaboratively with the entire Orbweaver team, Michael will continue to guide clients through the development and implementation of projects, ensuring client success.

Orbweaver is known in the Electronics Manufacturing Industry for high levels of customer service, innovative products, and groundbreaking technology.  In order to maintain this high level of service, Orbweaver has opened a location on the west coast of the Unites States. Located in Los Angeles, this presence enables Orbweaver to identify the needs and goals of clients in the western United States and maintain close relationships with all national customers.

Orbweaver’s vision is to continuously identify opportunities to improve processes and drive efficiency for the customer. With a rapidly expanding client base, Orbweaver will continue to grow its base of innovative, passionate, and detail-oriented team members to keep its promise of world-class customer support and technical solutions.  

Orbweaver and KEMET Partnership

Orbweaver Sourcing, LLC and KEMET Electronics Corporation formally announced their technology partnership and jointly introduced the Jet Stream project at KEMET’s Americas Distribution Conference.

Held at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, FL on January 24, 2017, this was KEMET’s second annual Americas Distribution Conference. Approximately 80 distributors, partners, and employees gathered as Tony Powell, Orbweaver CTO, co-presented with Fernando Spada, KEMET VP of Sales – Global Distribution, to introduce Jet Stream – a system designed to revolutionize the RFQ process for KEMET and its distribution partners.

Jet Stream uses the Orbweaver Connect™ platform and a custom installation of Orbweaver Advance™ to process the RFQ faster and with more accuracy. Jet Stream takes the manual, time-consuming process of managing RFQs from both KEMET and distribution partners and automates it.

During the presentation, Tony Powell and Fernando Spada demonstrated the capabilities of Jet Stream such as flexible and automated data intake, intelligent alerts and notifications, and versatile communication options with other systems (EDI, API, Web Portal, Spreadsheets, etc.). These capabilities produce benefits for both KEMET and its distribution partners. Additional, benefits include improved quote coverage, centralized RFQ storage/versioning, enhanced business workflow, IntelliData integration, rapid response times, and real-time quote process tracking.

Jet Stream is slated for Beta testing with distribution partners in early summer of 2017. A full deployment of Jet Stream is scheduled for January 2018.

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Your Business Is Burning

It is a frightening thought to visualize the destructive power of fire let loose unrestrained on your business.  The thought of your business actually being on fire, consumed in flames as you watch in helpless disbelief.  The loss of equipment, inventory, resources, capital, knowhow can be overwhelming.  For some, the loss is impossible to overcome.

But it isn’t just an anecdote.

The unfortunate truth is that your business is burning.  Right now.  Competitors are fighting for your marketshare.  Outdated, inefficient and non-automated business practices are costing you money.  Supply chain obsolescence is rendering your product unsaleable.  Technological innovation deployed by your peers is making your business less competitive.  Repetitive, routine and rote tasks are resulting in an uninspired workforce.

We fight the same issues in our own business.  And as we attempt to address the threats, prioritized in the order they are trying to kill us, we balance three distinct reactions:

First, that we know it is true.  In this case, the issue is well known and we spend every moment we can thinking about how to improve that aspect of our business.  Investments in advanced technology solutions are often at the core of our thought processes.  Because our team understands the threat, they look forward to change and any opportunity to increase efficiency, as we have explained to them we don’t want the flames to ever start.

Second, we see the smoldering embers, but either by circumstance, position, allocation of resources or ego, we don’t do anything about it.  The job is getting done.  Customers are happy.  Profits are in good shape.  “The status quo is the way to go”.  But that’s a trap.  We remind ourselves that the slow decline of complacency is still a decline toward oblivion.  And that’s not where we want to be.  So we recognize that we need to challenge ourselves, dig deep, and get the job done.  Face the issue, address the threat and deal with it, before the embers spark.

Third, we don’t see a problem and nothing needs to be done.  This is the most dangerous reaction.  Somewhere there is a gas leak that no one is paying attention to and all it needs is a match, and then it is going to get real messy in a big hurry. Blockbuster, Blackberry, Borders Books, Polaroid, MySpace, JCPenney, Kodak.  Whether it is a foolish deal, the lack of strategic direction, poor execution, the lack of innovation or just plain arrogance, the flames are a great equalizer and will expose your weaknesses at some point, usually when you are least expecting it.  Inertia can only get you so far.  We need to always be vigilant.

In all cases, the underlying question is, what do you do about it?  What action do I need to take today to protect and improve my company’s future?  Great questions.

Automated business practices are a reality.

There are a lot of smart people in your industry that are investing in digital solutions to automate non-value add processes.  These investments make their businesses more efficient and helps them bring better products and services to the market faster.  If you aren’t one of them, you are falling behind because in business, if you stop moving forward, you start moving backward relative to the competition.

Specific to the application of technology solutions, to use a baseball analogy, we aren’t yet in the bottom of the first inning.  Automated processes that eliminate errors, end redundant double entry, and allow users to collaborate seamlessly in real time with error-free data – all while maintaining an historical account – that’s a future that is already here.

Even more disruptive and automated technologies that will forever change the way you do business will be available before the end of the decade.  Imagine working with your colleagues, customers and suppliers within your native environment but utilizing tools that link together one unified data set.  You just need the right digital tools that knit together your current manual processes.

Imagine a world without email.  It’s easy if you try.

Your processes cost too much.

People are expensive.  Software, relatively speaking, is not.  The ROI of digital resource investments is measured in weeks, not years.

“But I don’t capture the savings unless I reduce headcount.  My employees are my most valuable resource.  I can’t survive without them.”

If you can replace headcount with software, improving efficiency, and can not find another place in your organization for your employees to add value, then either they aren’t as valuable as you think, or your business climate fails to embrace change.

It’s a difficult conversation to have, but business is brutal.  The strong win and the weak die.  As members of a free market society, our existence depends upon the self-regulating nature of a market favoring better, faster, cheaper ways of doing things.  And if you are in the way of progress, well, you are really just in the way.

As Edwards Deming said, “It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”

Software performs many tasks faster, more accurately and more reliably than a human.  It has near infinite capacity, doesn’t take vacation, and works day and night.

Your skepticism about technology is understandable.  Power outages, software upgrades, poor connectivity, limited wifi signals.  When technology doesn’t work, it is very frustrating.  But to ignore that software is becoming more reliable, more adaptable, more powerful and more specific to your exact requirements is to ignore progress and opportunity.

Henry Ford’s Model T only had a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 40 miles an hour when first introduced, but your don’t drive a horse and buggy to work.

Your resources aren’t being deployed correctly.

The valuable employees that may be displaced can be put to better use – untapped sources of marketing creativity, relationship builders, industry liaisons, and champions of career mobility made possible by technology in ways that may surprise you once a conversation is started.

And that employee that has been around for a long time that you just can’t let go – they know as much about your business as you do.  They can probably handle a lot more responsibility and probably have a lot of ideas about new products, services and how to do things more efficiently.

But you aren’t getting any of those other benefits because you are mired down in legacy resources that are slow, repetitive, becoming unstable and don’t support change.

You aren’t making the revenue and profits you should be.

Make processes faster while costing less – you make more money for your organization.  Which means you have capital to invest in more efficient processes.  Which means …. you get it.  Efficiency increases profits.

Do you have an eCommerce site?  Does it integrate to your inventory management system, shipping, price book and POS?  Are you factoring current real-time marketing feedback into your pricing calculations?  Are you getting your quotes to your customers in less than 30 minutes?  Are you using internet EDI and ditching the VAN?  Is your data touchless and are your business processes automated?  Is your supply chain automatically and seamlessly integrated to your business system?  Does your business run on one integrated data set?

If no to any question, you are falling behind and your business is burning.

Let your mind wonder.  Think of a digital solution you wish you had or a manual process you wish you could replace.  If you can express it in words, there is a digital solution.

Orbweaver

Our business is burning too.  We challenge our processes routinely as part of our business culture – and we see opportunities for improvement everyday – internally and with our clients.

Orbweaver is also fortunate to be working with some of the most forward thinking companies in the Electronics Industry.  They recognize improvements to their businesses are possible everyday, and while they may not have all the answers, they are asking the questions.

How can Orbweaver help you?

From eCommerce to EDI, from Quoting to Purchasing, Orbweaver has solutions for the Electronics Industry.

Email Is the Enemy

Why the World’s Most Common Data Exchange Tool Just Doesn’t Work for the Electronic Parts Industry

Everyone involved in the electronic parts industry knows the pain of email. Sure, it’s the most common way to transmit pricing and availability data … but it’s also a royal pain.

Inboxes quickly fill up with massive spreadsheet attachments. Information is lost in the clutter. Important messages are missed or forgotten. And highly sensitive data is left shockingly exposed.

Unfortunately, there have traditionally been few effective ways to avoid the email mess. EDI, in particular, is a good option … but it’s far too expensive for all but the largest contract manufacturers, distributors and suppliers to implement. That means plenty of communication between electronic part buyers and sellers still takes place over email and its poor cousins, phone and fax. That’s a major problem in the industry – and if it’s not solved, there are major consequences coming down the line.

In this guide, we’ll explain the top five problems with using email for sharing data on electronic part pricing and availability – and how innovative distributors, suppliers and CMs are solving them.

Email Problem #1

It’s Never-Ending

It’s a constant battle to move more emails out of your inbox than you receive in a day. It’s an assault that lasts all day and all night – and doesn’t stop for holidays or weekends. The result? You don’t spend enough time working with your customers … and when you do, you’re often worried less about customer service and more about simply crossing something off your to-do list.

Email Problem #2

It’s Insecure

Encrypted email attempts to offer a secure way of transferring data back and forth. Problem is, almost nobody in the electronic parts industry actually uses encrypted email. Encryption tools are cumbersome, and it’s common for senders and receivers to utilize incompatible platforms. Plus, once they’re decrypted, emails are still archived in an insecure fashion.

Any weak link in the chain renders the message vulnerable … and those weak links are everywhere. Even if you’re doing encryption right, what happens when your laptop is stolen, or you leave your smartphone at the movie theater?

When you’re using email to make dinner plans, that’s no big deal. But what about when you’re sending confidential customer-specific pricing? Or worse, when you’re corresponding about work for the government? In the latter case, email’s lack of security is doing more than compromising your data – depending on what information is being shared, you might actually be violating ITAR, EAR, COMSEC or FAR regulations.

Email Problem #3

It Offers No Revision Control

Simply put, email is a data integrity nightmare. Think about it: There’s no revision control for a file once it’s been attached and sent. As a result, multiple versions of pricing books exist at any one time – old and new both. There’s simply no way to enforce that your counterpart is seeing the data you need them to see, or that you’ve received the correct data. And confirming the data, of course, means sending yet more emails or making phone calls.

Email is an inherently manual process; it’s up to both the sender and receiver to handle the information correctly. A wrong attachment or mislabeled file can create havoc out of little more than a single keystroke or click of the mouse. What’s worse, if you’re sending a file and realize you made a mistake, there’s no way to guarantee the recipient will get or use a re-sent corrected version. By the time a second version of a file comes, they’re probably on to something else … like a different email. Your good data sits in their inbox, while old versions remain in use.

Email Problem #4

It’s Slow

It’s not so much that email itself is slow; it’s perfectly ne for zipping off quick notes and correspondence. The issues are with how email is often used in the electronic parts industry – sharing pricing and availability data.

Let’s say that you’re a distributor on the receiving end of an Excel pricing book from a supplier. It’s a big spreadsheet, so it spends at least a few minutes in transmission. When it arrives (assuming it isn’t instantly buried in your inbox by the hundreds of other messages you get each day), you need to open it, save it, and place it onto either your local hard drive or a shared environment. All this takes time … but if you don’t immediately take care of the attachment, you’ll probably never be able to find it again.

Need to confirm information, or get an updated price? That spreadsheet hasn’t changed since you saved it, so you’re emailing someone at the supplier (and who knows when they’ll get back to you), picking up the phone or sending a fax. With emailed spreadsheets, you’re dealing with data that’s outdated essentially as soon as you get it, and gets longer in the tooth every day. In an industry where minutes matter, that’s a big problem.

Email Problem #5

It’s Expensive

Think about what wasted staff time costs your business. Or the expenses that always come with errors and confusion. Or the cost of recovering from a data breach. At the end of the day, email is not a cheap proposition. And that’s before you get to the costs of IT staffers to keep the system running (even as it’s stressed by thousands of massive attachments), data bills and legacy hardware.

Problem is, the most common replacements for email as a means of sharing pricing and availability data have long been EDI (short for electronic data interchange) and internal APIs. These certainly address speed, data integrity and security, but they both carry very large total costs of ownership. They’re expensive to plan for, expensive to set up, expensive to maintain; for the most part, they’re well out of the reach of small and mid-sized suppliers, distributors and CMs.

So where does that leave us? Are the only options email, with its myriad problems, or one of two wildly costly data sharing alternatives?

Not exactly.

The Solution

The last two years have seen the rise of highly configurable, secure real-time data exchange solutions driven by platform-agnostic API technology. The most notable of these, the Orbweaver Platform, is capable of securely accepting data in almost any format (EDI, XML, SOAP, JSON, XLS, CSV, etc.), normalizing it and delivering it automatically to a web portal, an ERP or MRP system or directly into Excel. That means the ow of data is constant, and the most up-to-date and accurate pricing and availability information is always available. Pricing jobs that once took 2-3 weeks of elapsed time can now be completed in five minutes, with data encrypted the entire way.

Think about the possibilities. Rather than accepting pricing books from suppliers via email, distributors can automatically ingest the data into their desired system, no matter the format in which it started. Likewise, distributors can share customer- specific pricing with their customers just as easily. There’s no need to change business practices or shift le formats; data can go into a leading API-based data exchange solution in any fashion, and come out any way it needs to. The result? More efficient data throughput, less wasted time, fewer errors, dramatically stricter security – and more sales.

Sound interesting? Visit orbweaver.comto learn more or request a consultation, or call us at 484-212-5455. Give us half an hour, and we’ll show you how you can respond to three times as many quotes by simply shifting from email to external API communication.

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