1.4. Most important Project phases
The principal phases of the project
Choose the software solution
The first step of the project is to choose a software solution that suits the best the identified userís needs and can be easily adapted to the specificities of the company.
We wanted a software solution with an intuitive, simple and convivial IHM with the aim to reduce the learning period. The users will be more quickly operational if the use of the tool is simple.
Thus, we have compared the main software companies in the market which propose the following solutions: the JDA solution named Prospace, the KLEE Commerce named SMART Office, the IRI solution named Apollo and the Nielsen solution named Spaceman. The solutions without relational database or master data management system have been immediately eliminated.
The two solution remaining at last was Prospace proposed by JDA and SMART Office proposed by KLEE Commerce. We have done analysis more deeply on these two solutions. We identified all the functional and technical criteria that we want to satisfy with the help of the new solution. We have assign coefficients to these criteria according to different levels of importance. This evaluation allows us to elaborate a scoring of the two solutions. The scoring used is provided in the appendix L.
At last, we choose the KLEE Commerce solution named SMART Office. This solution seems to respond better our constraints than the others solutions. And the proposed improvements allow us to optimize most certainly the elaboration process for the merchandising plan, in accordance with the optimization axis identified.
However, this solution doesnít avoid the intervention on the userís workstation. We must install a program on each userís computer. We have sidestepped this problem with the use of the Microsoft technology named TSE (Terminal Server Edition). This technology allows to access, from any Windows 2000, 2003 or XP computers, to virtual session on a distant server. With this solution, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) demands have been satisfied.
Other more subjective criteria had influence on our choice. For example, the availability and the reactivity of the software company were important for us as well as additional service like picture subscription. A picture delivery on CD that corresponding to a define perimeter is made every month.
The KLEE Commerce solution is based on an image repository, an Oracle relational database and different modules. The modules allow managing the picture repository, elaborating the merchandising plan, managing the database and extracting information automatically.
Figure 9: SMART Office software solution architecture
Integration of the software solution into the information system
The second step is to integrate this software solution into the existing information system. Itís possible to load the master database with text files. These loads are configurable with the help of XML files. This integration method allows being more flexible. Finally, itís necessary to collect the information needed for elaborating the merchandising plan.
We have identified some process useful for loading the master database and defined the corresponding execution periodicity. The main processes are:
Load of the product information.
Elaboration of the scoring corresponding to the store with the sales for different product nomenclatures.
Search of the product sales for each store
Creation of the product list corresponding to the active collection that is send to KLEE Commerce Company. In return, the software company deliver the pictures corresponding to the perimeter defined in the subscription.
Except the product information load which is done every day from Monday to Friday, other processes are done monthly.
As the existing information can not be used directly, we have created a Datamart to make the different text files.
Figure 10 : The Datamart creation
The Datamart is a database that contains all the information relating to the merchandising subject and the sales needed for the merchandising plan elaboration. Initially, this Datamart allows to obtain the correct data aggregation level required by the software application SMART Office. But, to respond to new functional evolutions like the product universe notion, it was necessary to store in this Datamart other notions relating to the merchandising that were not available in the existing information system.
The universes are groups of products allow using product perimeter exactly corresponds to the Merchandising files sent to the store. Till now, the group of products are subset obtained with the product nomenclature used in the company. These existing groups are difficult to manage for the Merchandisers.
In the database, we want also to manage the Merchandising plan list and miscellaneous characteristics like the update frequency or the people responsible for the merchandising plan elaboration. Until now, these data was managed with the help of EXCEL file.
For sending PDF files to the stores via the intranet, itís an obligation to create notions like trees that represent the product nomenclature and to identify the store in order to select the correct files list with the store characteristics.
The implementations of these notions have not to be made in the Smart Office solution. These notions correspond to business aspect and donít need to be managed in a specific tool. Itís important that the software solution remains independent of the business rules.
WEB IHM Implementation
The management of these notions in the Datamart requires the creation of WEB IHM that allows to update the data and to monitor the process execution relating to the data.
For satisfy this needs, we have to choose standards and development tools, software and hardware architecture and stress test tools. Finally, itís necessary to validate the architecture with stress tests tools. The validation allows ensuring that the service proposed to the users present a good level of quality to avoid any crash when the application is used by the users.