Intouch Direct deploys an Open Source stack to meet their complex distribution requirements

Intouch Direct deploys an Open Source stack to meet their complex distribution requirements

When Intouch Direct needed to replace their legacy business management systems they evaluated a number of popular proprietary and open source ERP systems. When it came down to cost of ownership and the flexibility they required to meet their complex needs they chose the open source alternative.

ITD’s sales activities are performed by a sixty person call center and an e-commerce website. The majority of transactions are Business to Consumer (B2C) although there is also a significant Business to Business (B2B) component. ITD’s warehousing and shipment activities are outsourced to a third party organization.

Portfolio Link:

Visit the Intouch Direct website

Challenge:

The business has expanded rapidly and its existing ERP system no longer satisfied their needs. A new system had to satisfy the following requirements

  • provide rich ERP functional capability
  • provide a content management system that incorporates a shopping cart integrated with the ERP system
  • provide the ability to modify the system without jeopardizing the ability to upgrade to new software releases
  • provide an automated exchange of electronic transactions between the ERP system and the third-party warehouse

Solution:

Intouch Direct considered a range of options and selected a pure open source solution composed of:

  • ADempiere ERP & CRM
  • Drupal Content Management and Ubercart e_Commerce System
  • Red Hat Linux
  • Postgres Database
  • Pentaho Business Intelligence
  • Asterisk Telephony

The ERP/CMS and Website selection was heavily influenced by the flexibility and ease of customizing the open source components. A specialized “Call” window was developed which provided a central point for the management of customer requests. The call center operator selects the nature of the call and the window dynamically changes to enable the entry of data relevant to the nature of the call.

The elements of a rules engine were developed to enable Intouch Direct to implement campaigns for new clients without the need to modify the ERP and webstore every time a new campaign was introduced.

The Intouch Direct website was developed using Drupal allowing the user to enter content using familiar WYSIWYG tools. Information required by the online shopping cart (e.g customers, products, orders, price lists, images. etc.) is stored in the ERP system. Business rules exist only in the ERP system and new or changed rules implemented for Call Center transactions are automatically applied in equivalent web transactions.

Data migration from the legacy system was complex and volumes were quite significant and it was necessary to ensure that the data migration process was repeatable. Graphical Open Source Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tools were used to develop the migration scripts. Business rules required the importation of a number of years of sales history to enable the new application to determination of remaining/current entitlements under government schemes.

Result:

Intouch Direct gained a number of significant benefits:

  • Ability to introduce new campaigns without the need for system redevelopment
  • Automatic validation/management of complex business rules relating to third party campaigns
  • Fully integrated Content management System and webstore
  • Facility to allow authorized carers/health professionals to act on behalf of their clients
  • Reduction of training costs resulting from the simplified call center functionality
  • Automation of data exchange with third party logistics provider