Seedlings • The nursery sits on 100 acres and produces approximately 3 million seedlings each year. • Additional seedlings are grown at a smaller nursery in southeast Iowa. • The nursery offers about 48 different species in two different sizes.
Order Form • These forms are mailed or faxed into the office. • Each one is manually entered into the system. • Currently orders submitted over the internet produce an email that looks similar to this that are also entered manually. • Orders can also be phoned in and entered manually. • 2,500 – 5,000 orders are entered manually each year.
Shipping and Grading • Each week the system generates lists and labels for the orders that are scheduled to be processed. • There are many variables that the system has to identify when creating a picking list. Among those are: 1. How many seedlings can fit in a bag. 2. What % of the bag each species fills. 3. What week/day the order is scheduled to ship.
Shipping and Grading • Seedlings are put into bags with a label on each bag that the system generates.
Faults With Current System • DOS system that is complicated, time consuming to operate and is very inefficient. The current system is about 30 years old. • Programming support is limited to one person at Iowa State University who is close to retirement. • Each year every customer has to be re-entered into the system as the customer information is not carried forward. There is no permanent “account” created for the customer in the current system. • Each order has to be manually entered and an invoice is mailed for each new order/and or change to an order. • Very limited details of the status of the orders can be accessed. • Communication between the shipping/grading staff and the office staff is not possible with the current system. Literally hundreds of sticky notes and trips back and forth from the shipping area to the office are made by staff each week to acquire information that is needed to process or check statuses of orders.
Faults Continued • Customers have no way to make changes to an order, make payments, or check the status of their order except to call the nursery or mail correspondence which ties up the office staff and could easily be handled by a more adept system. • All payments have to be manually entered by office staff. All credit card payments have to be submitted individually across a phone line by office staff. This makes it difficult to have up to date payment and due date information. • There is no easy way to correspond with customers, especially when there may be around 100 customers that need to be contacted at once. Each person has to be called individually. An automatic and/or manually induced mass email correspondence would be ideal! • There is no way for the system to discern which orders are able to be filled based on the available inventory in the cooler which can change hourly. Temporary shortages of cooler inventory creates “backorders” that have to be manually dealt with and can be easily forgotten about. This leads to dissatisfied customers!
Some Advantages of New System • At least 30% of secretarial hours would be saved, allowing for more efficient use of time. Additional seasonal office help may be reduced. • As on-line ordering increases, more secretarial time will be saved and customer satisfaction would increase the ability of the customer to independently place their orders and access/modify information about their orders and account. • Postage and mail processing costs would be drastically reduced with the ability to send yearly seedling catalogs and invoices via mass email. • In house communication dealing with order processing would be greatly improved, resulting in more efficient order processing, less mistakes and more satisfied customers.