Lipari Foods is a privately held, wholesale food distributor located near Detroit. They distribute a wide range of quality deli, bakery, packaging, seafood, meat, dairy, confections, grocery, food service, and grab-and-go products across 15 states in the Midwest region.
Michael Hegarty, Director of ERP and CRM Corporate Strategy at Lipari Foods, is responsible for the innovation, execution, and support of all enterprise and customer relationship applications and initiatives. He describes IBM i as the heart of the company, running their core transactional systems, including ERP, WMS, TMS, and CRM applications.
Finding the Correct Technology
Lipari Foods leverages technology as a competitive advantage. They sit on several advisory boards and have built a strong network with teams that share the same goal. “We try to be correct with technology,” says Hegarty. “When other folks in the food distribution industry own a product like yours or NCR/Retalix, it adds a lot of merit and helps us discern which software combinations to use.”
Making smart software decisions is key, since Hegarty’s IT team runs thin and does not have a dedicated data processor or data center person monitoring around the clock. Prior to purchasing CCSS solutions, Hegarty describes the IBM i monitoring processes at Lipari Foods as manual and reactive. “Basically, we’d cross our fingers that somebody looked at QBATCH or remembered to do a WRKACTJOB every hour. Often, we’d wait for a user to call us saying that a job didn’t run or the system was frozen.”
To close the gaps, they relied on checklists that were only done at week-end or end-of-period, and gave supervisors the ability to do WRKACTJOB to encourage accountability. They also allowed their user community to work directly with their software vendors if any errors were found.
“In operations, we want everybody to be self-sufficient,” says Hegarty, “but, at the end of the day, we had operators worrying about the system and not about their people; we were having them focus on the wrong thing.”
Hegarty remembers the tipping point. “If a user went on vacation or forgot to run a ship notification manually, our trucks would show up at stores and the electronic file wouldn’t be there. So, the driver would try to make the delivery and the store wouldn’t allow it without the invoice. Sometimes it was simple enough for the driver to wait. Other times they would have to go back to the store the next day.
“It was time wasted and also impacted customer and even consumer satisfaction—that the product on the shelf is empty—and they’re the most important piece of the puzzle.”
Saying Yes to CCSS
Now, with CCSS, Hegarty’s team is proactive. They receive notification if a certain event does not take place at the appointed time.
“We believe in the old ‘one throat to choke’ theory,” jokes Hegarty. “Instead of doing everything á la carte, it’s easier to go all in. That way the systems work with each other, and your support team and professional services team can help us across the board without us having a gap because we didn’t buy that module.”
Hegarty’s team now uses QMessage Monitor and QRemote Control to watch for subsystems, jobs, and events that haven’t occurred by a certain time and send mobile notifications. They rely on QSystem Monitor to balance their workload by keeping track of file and library sizes and performance metrics.
“Performance hasn’t been an issue,” says Hegarty, “but when the tools showed us all these jobs hitting at 9 a.m. or 4 p.m., it really could have been an issue that we wouldn’t have known about.”
“The biggest strength has been their knowledge of IBM i and knowledge of their tools. [HelpSystems is] definitely a good group, very professional and easy to do business with.”
Going Beyond Proactive Monitoring
CCSS solutions are benefiting the entire organization as well as their trading partners. Hegarty explains, “The trucks aren’t showing up to customers without electronic invoices, error messages are running, the fax system is running—it’s done a really nice job helping the entire supply chain.”
In addition to customer satisfaction and peace of mind, Lipari Foods also experiences wonderful support with HelpSystems. “The biggest strength has been their knowledge of IBM i and knowledge of their tools,” says Hegarty. “They’re a phone call away and don’t mind us asking the same questions over and over. It’s definitely a good group, very professional and easy to do business with.”
Let’s Get Started
Call us at 800-328-1000 or email [email protected] to set up a personal consultation. We’ll review your current setup and see how CCSS solutions can help you achieve your monitoring goals.