Fireside Distributors StreamlinesBusiness ProcessesDocument Automation Boosts Productivity,Saves Money, and Reduces Expens...
Challenge                                                     Business Challenge: MinimizeMinimize costly, time-consuming ...
Solution: Enterprise Output ManagerThornbrough discussed her desire to streamline and automatethe invoice distribution pro...
Results: Modernization Boosts                                                        The Relationship: Trust, Stability,Pr...
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EOM Case Study Fireside Distributors Streamlines Business Processes


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Document Automation Boosts Productivity,
Saves Money, and Reduces Expenses,

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EOM Case Study Fireside Distributors Streamlines Business Processes

  1. 1. Fireside Distributors StreamlinesBusiness ProcessesDocument Automation Boosts Productivity,Saves Money, and Reduces ExpensesCase Study
  2. 2. Challenge Business Challenge: MinimizeMinimize costly, time-consuming manual processes Time-Consuming Manual Processesrelated to invoicing, collections, and other customer For more than 40 years, Fireside Distributors has been aservice and supplier management communications. leading wholesale distributor of hearth and fireplace products and accessories, as well as outdoor lifestyle products likeSolution grills and cooking islands. Fireside maintains its competitiveFireside Distributors modernized and streamlined the way advantage through a rare combination of great people,it communicates financial and order information, such as exceptional service, and advanced technology. Susaninvoices, aging reports, purchase orders, and quotations, Thornbrough, executive vice president of operations, explains:through the use of Unisys Enterprise Output Manager. This “The hearth industry is fairly small and most distributors haveflexible output management and distribution tool allows access to the same manufacturers and products. So, we needFireside to automatically generate PDFs of key documents to offer more and better services to stay ahead. Our peopleand deliver them to customers and suppliers via email— and customer service are the best around. And, we havewithout having to make significant changes to its existing always relied on technology to give us an edge.”core COBOL applications. Since 1980, Fireside has powered its business operations with a Unisys mainframe. And, the COBOL applications it deployedResults in 1984 continue to serve the company well. “We had anWith Enterprise Output Manager, Fireside Distributors online, real-time system in the 1980s,” says Thornbrough.eliminated the need to print, collate, and mail “Today, that system has been customized to fit our businesshardcopy invoices for more than 75% of its customer and keep pace with changes, such as the emergence ofbase—reducing expenses, speeding cash collection, Internet retailers as a core part of our dealer base.”and eliminating manual effort. In addition, the solutionsupports on-demand conversion of financial and customer With an eye on controlling expenses, speeding cash collection,service documents to PDF, which further streamlines and delivering responsive service, Fireside started emailing daily invoices to a select group of dealers. The companyworkflow in the company’s administrative functions. modified its application to create text file versions of invoices, which its staff manually attached to an emailMetrics to each recipient. “Some days we’d have more than 25• Productivity: 40 hours per week saved across the invoices for a single dealer, which was cumbersome,” recalls organization through process automation—time that Thornbrough. “I could see this approach wasn’t going to can now be spent on higher-value work work in the long term. I wanted to be able to do everything by• Costs: Significant cost savings by reducing the need for email in a PDF format that could be accepted by everyone.” printed forms, stationery, postage, and labor associated with preparing invoices for distribution via U.S. Mail• Revenue: Faster cash collection by getting invoices to dealers via email on a nightly basis “Fireside has always run a lean operation. There’s no way we could do what we do with the same number of people without tools like Enterprise Output Manager.” Susan Thornbrough Executive Vice President of Operations Fireside Distributors2
  3. 3. Solution: Enterprise Output ManagerThornbrough discussed her desire to streamline and automatethe invoice distribution process with Unisys technicalconsultant, Larry Ramsey. “Unisys is more than just greathardware, they have great people, too,” Thornbrough says.“Because Larry has been a long-term partner, he understandsour business and I don’t have to spend time bringing him upto speed and explaining how everything works.”It was through this discussion that Thornbrough learnedabout Unisys Enterprise Output Manager, a powerful outputmanagement tool that is a standard component of theClearPath MCP integrated operating environment. “Once Iunderstood what Enterprise Output Manager could do andlooked at the cost justification to get it working with ourapplication, I approved the project,” says Thornbrough.With the help of Ramsey and the programmer who maintainsits core COBOL applications, Fireside was ready to launchthe newly automated process in about a month. EnterpriseOutput Manager processes the cumulative invoice output Profile: Fireside Distributorsto create one PDF per dealer containing all of that day’s • Premier distributor of innovative heating products,invoices. The software then emails the PDF directly to both including fireplaces, gas logs, and enclosures, servingthe dealer and Fireside’s credit department. a dealer network that stretches across all 48 states in the continental United StatesSince the initial implementation, Fireside has found manymore uses for Enterprise Output Manager. Staff in the • Founded in 1965company’s credit department can now more efficiently • Located in Raleigh, North Carolinaaddress collections by immediately sharing aging reports withdealers via emailed PDF while they are on the phone, insteadof waiting for information to be faxed or mailed. In addition, Solution at a GlanceFireside emails purchase order PDFs to most of its vendors, • Unisys Enterprise Output Managerand can easily share backorder and shipment information • Unisys ClearPath Libra 400 serverwith customers. “It’s amazing how much we can get done ina very short time with Enterprise Output Manager,” observes • Unisys technical consulting servicesThornbrough. “It’s wonderful!” 3
  4. 4. Results: Modernization Boosts The Relationship: Trust, Stability,Productivity and Controls Expenses and LongevityThrough the use of Enterprise Output Manager, Fireside With a partnership that began more than 30 years ago,Distributors has once again evolved and modernized Fireside Distributors and Unisys continue to work togetherits investment in its ClearPath mainframe and COBOL to identify new ways to leverage technology for businessapplications in response to business needs, and realized benefit. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Fireside, as asignificant benefits along the way, including: small company, would not be where we are without Unisys hardware, software, and people,” says Thornbrough. “Our• Reduced expenses bank and accountant have often commented about the• Faster cash collection efficiency of our operation, and much of that is due to the• Improved staff efficiency Unisys technology we use.”Not only does Enterprise Output Manager help Firesideminimize the postage and printing costs related to mailinghardcopy documents, it also speeds cash collectionbecause invoices get to dealers faster. And, professionally “There’s no doubt in my mind thatprepared and emailed documents signal that this relativelysmall company is making a big effort to communicate with Fireside, as a small company, woulddealers and suppliers in a modern, efficient manner. not be where we are without UnisysIn addition, Thornbrough estimates that the company hardware, software, and people.”saves at least 40 hours per week through automation of Susan Thornbroughthe invoicing process, as well as faster, more efficient Executive Vice President of Operationsinformation sharing: “We’ve always run a lean operation, Fireside Distributorsand during the winter heating season we’re extremely busy.Now, our people can do more important things than printing,copying, and faxing. There’s no way we could do what we dowith the same number of people without tools like EnterpriseOutput Manager.”For more information visit©2011 Unisys Corporation. All rights reserved.Unisys and the Unisys logo are registered trademarks of Unisys Corporation. All other brands and productsreferenced herein are acknowledged to be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.Printed in the United States of America 05/11 11-0171