February 5, Provia Software (www.provia.com),
a somewhat tacit but quite steadfast privately-held provider of supply chain
execution (SCE) software solutions aimed at catering for the entire order-to-delivery'
collaborative process needs, announced that it has completed 2002 with over
80 client sites going live during the course of the year, which was also one
of the company's most profitable years ever. The more than 80 client go-lives
were a combination of new and upgraded sites worldwide, and reportedly came
from a wide variety of industries, including consumer packaged goods (CPG),
third party logistics (3PL), wholesale/industrial distribution, high-tech/electronics,
addition, a number of Provia's clients added new products from the Provia suite
to their logistics strategy, reflecting Provia's continued success in both attracting
new customers and marketing into its client base with new solutions. Provia
credits a part of its success to the fact that Warehouse Management System (WMS)
software (particularly the legacy instances) tends to be among the most customized
of enterprise applications, which often makes it more affordable for companies
to forego the upgrade process and just install new more out-of-box functional
This is Part One of a three-part note.
Two will discuss the Market Impact of recent announcements.
Three will cover Competitive Strategy, Challenges and make User Recommendations.
Software began life as a subsidiary of German elevator system manufacturer Haushahn
GmbH, whose elevator technology led it to develop material handling
and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS). The need for and growing
interest in software to manage automation in North America led to the formation
of Grand Rapids, MI-based Haushahn Systems & Engineers (HS&E)
in 1988. Under the leadership of CEO Ken Lewis, HS&E established its business
in software and material handling and AS/RS for large warehouse distribution
and logistics operations. Though AS/RS remained an important offering, HS&E
began to evolve into a full-fledged SCE vendor. Today the company offers a Tier-1
WMS and integrated software modules for Yard Management (YMS), Transportation
Management (TMS), Small Parcel Shipping Management (SPS) and Order Management
for 3PL customers (OMS). Additionally, Provia has added a web-based visibility,
event/alert management and performance analysis product called ViaView.
In July 1999, HS&E became Provia Software, and according to the company, the name Provia' was chosen because of the word's combined Latin roots — the word Provenio means 'proven', whereas the word Via means 'a way'. The combination of the two reflected then the notion of a proven way to success', which was definitely confirmed by its 2002 results. The combination of new and existing clients, upgrades, and new products all contributed to Provia's near record profitability in 2002.
Recent Product Announcements
September, Provia announced the availability of its ViaWare WMS
product for the Microsoft Windows 2000 platform. With the release
6.0, Provia claims to be the first vendor to offer true Tier 1' level functionality
in a single WMS for the Windows 2000, Linux and Unix platforms. Available since
December 15, Provia's Windows 2000 WMS reportedly has exactly the same functionality
as the company's Unix-based product because the same source code is used for
both versions. By offering the same WMS product for both Unix, Linux and Windows
2000, Provia aims at delivering a standard, scaleable and database independent
solution capable of meeting the needs of the most demanding WMS environments.
Provia's single-source strategy also includes database independence, so that
companies can choose between an Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server,
or Informix database for the WMS. Additionally, this should
allow the company to completely focus R&D on a single WMS product.
in May, Provia released the latest version of ViaView, its
supply chain collaboration and visibility product. ViaView 2.0 includes significant
enhancements to event/alert management, and an engine for monitoring the escalation
of events and non-events (i.e., events or activities that did not happen, but
were supposed to). The enhanced event management in ViaView 2.0 automatically
searches for a pattern of repetitive events throughout the day/week/month. When
trends or patterns are discovered, ViaView creates alert messages notifying
the appropriate parties.
In addition to event management, ViaView 2.0 also includes event escalation, with which, in addition to monitoring events, ViaView also monitors operator responses to those events. For example, if an error condition continues for a certain amount of time after ViaView creates an initial alert, ViaView will send another alert to the same person, and/or escalate the alert up the chain of command to ensure visibility and resolution of a potentially critical condition.
Another important and often overlooked area that event escalation addresses is the monitoring of seemingly uncorrelated events. An example of how ViaView can monitor for patterns of events over time would be repeatedly short-shipping the same client multiple times. While each individual short-shipment might trigger a ViaView alert, the product also monitors the bigger picture and would alert users to the more important repetitive pattern emerging and allow for a faster resolution of the root cause of the problem.
but not least, in April, Provia announced the general availability of the latest
version of the company's FourSite third party logistics (3PL)
software product. With the release of FourSite 4.1, Provia's 3PL solution is
now available for the Unix, and Windows 2000 server platforms and with Oracle,
Informix and SQL Server database support, and each configuration uses the same
source code. Having the identical product available in multiple platforms and
databases should offer Provia clients the freedom to select the configuration
that best fits their business needs.
The latest version of Provia's FourSite contains several additional enhancements including:
RF (Radio Frequency) Receipts
Added warning message if received quantity exceeds expected quantity
RF Trailer Loading
Users can now load material from pack locations
RF Move Stock Users can now move stock into an assembly
Reports Added index to improve speed of stock status by
date report; added product department to the items under minimum report; added
ability to show both net and gross weight on the list lot history report;
added ability to run the transportation mode report for multiple customers;
added transport information and more selection fields to the pre-route audit
Archiving Users can choose to exclude carton data from
the archive process; streamlined archiving process to speed archiving
Location Setup If a customer or product is changed on a
forward pick location, FourSite automatically cancels outstanding replenishments
Orders/Receipts A quick trailer pop-up screen was added
to allow for quick entry of trailer numbers
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
Users can now send extract error report to a file, an email address or a
itself on quick implementations and generally lower Total Cost of Ownership
(TCO), in part due to "holding the customer's hands during the initial phases"
and then empowering its clients to control implementations and upgrades at each
site with handy tools provided by the vendor, very recently, on February 18,
Provia announced four tools designed to make product implementations, upgrades
and ongoing testing an easier and more streamlined process. These are included
with Provia's ViaWare WMS product, and the vendor believes
the new tools underscore its commitment to providing clients the lowest TCO
for their WMS.
By empowering clients to handle these functions, Provia attempts to limit ongoing costs that might erode the overall value of the solution. Currently, many supply chain and logistics executives invest a great deal of effort and related services spending, just to manage difficult product upgrades and rollouts. With the release of the following four tools, Provia strives to reduce the need for such spending, allowing supply chain managers to more easily, accurately and rapidly optimize their systems:
The Data Manager supposedly simplifies user configuration
of warehouses during implementation, and manages the data needed for subsequent
sites. It manages data groups to support configuration, testing and training,
it supports repeatable, complex testing scenarios, and it is integrated with
Microsoft Excel for mass data loading and complex manipulation.
Clients should be able to reduce integration efforts between ViaWare and their
existing ERP or host system with Gateway Simulator. This
tool creates data needed to properly test the integration and performs error
checking of test data, and is integrated with Microsoft Excel for data manipulation.
Template Manager should simplify system personalization,
allowing rapid configuration of ViaWare WMS for particular vertical industries,
including CPG, 3PL and wholesale distribution. It supports changes in terminology/language,
and it supports vertical market templates.
Finally, clients should ensure optimal system configuration with Warehouse
Simulator, since by simulating WMS transactions used in normal warehouse
operations, this tool tests the actual effect of system and facility throughput
on configuration changes. It offers a system stress test' during configuration
and before go-live by simulating all RF transactions, while supporting over
100 simultaneous users. It also allows volume testing of exact client configuration,
measures system and facility throughput, and tests effects of configuration
tackling the issues of lowering TCO, in July, Provia announced the availability
of an upgraded host environment for Provia implementation partners. With this
hosted environment, Provia implementation partners can access Provia's SCE product
suites through a secure Internet connection for testing, training and documentation.
The hosted environment for implementation partners is an offshoot of a similar
service that Provia has offered to clients for several months. Provia clients
including Yamaha, Applica Consumer Products, and H.B.
Fuller have reportedly utilized this hosted service for training, configuration
workshop activities, and to more quickly obtain hands on experience with the
Provia suite. The result has been shorter implementation time frames, reduced
travel time and overall lower expenses.
concludes Part One of a three-part note.
Two will discuss the Market Impact of these recent announcements.
Three will cover Competitive Strategy, Challenges and make User Recommendations.