MightyData developed an order management system for Lettermen Sports several years ago. Lettermen Sports is one of the premier sports apparel production companies in Minnesota with locations in Blaine and Plymouth and a large production facility where it completes nearly 300 orders per week for sports apparel screen printing, lettering and shipping.
The primary purpose of its FileMaker application is to manage the flow of orders through its production facility. A core facet of the solution is its interface with the SQL-based point-of-sale program, CounterPoint. The FileMaker solution was developed by MightyData to import orders and order detail from CounterPoint.
Performance of the import/update process began to lag behind the increasingly fast pace of the business as the record counts in some of the FileMaker tables grew to over 300,000. With the update process taking an average of 23 minutes, the in-house FileMaker server performance was being compromised by the load. Employee productivity was reduced by having to wait for orders to be imported, and by the performance hit to the FileMaker server.
Lettermen Sports’ management approached MightyData to re-design the order import process to accomplish the following:
- Reduce the time required to import and update orders from CounterPoint to the FileMaker order management system
- Automate the import process
- Eliminate the up-to-24-hour delay for new and updated CounterPoint orders to be created/updated in the FileMaker database
MightyData’s technical team arrived at a solution to redesign the import/update process to more closely match the current needs of the business. The original import/update process involved importing data from the point-of-sale solution using FileMaker’s import script step to update matching records and create new records that were unmatched. Import subscripts were then used to import data from across the CounterPoint solution so that data required for shop floor production was available in the FileMaker database. This approach was very effective at ensuring that all data was successfully imported as the solution would import across all orders and line item detail each time the update was run.
As the business rules evolved, however, the update process became more complex. Combined with high record counts, a new approach was required.
The new design was based on only working with new and changed records in the CounterPoint system. In so doing, the number of order records that the scripts were required to process was reduced dramatically, to just 3 or 4 at a time. Conveniently enough, CounterPoint provides an order creation and update timestamp which is updated any time an order or its line-item detail is changed. This allowed for a complete overhaul of the scripting process that simultaneously accomplished all three of the customer’s goals. Furthermore, all script execution was moved to the server, allowing staff to focus on order production and not on managing the update process.
This project is an excellent an example of how value is driven by the interface of a customer’s need with great technical planning and execution in a spirit of partnership with the customer to get the job done well. The new solution reduced the update execution from an average of 23.4 minutes to just 2.5 seconds – a 99.8% performance gain. While technically impressive, the real value comes from production staff getting new orders and updates no longer than 30 minutes after they are recorded in the point-of-sale system. If even that is too long, the update can be run manually in a few seconds, giving the team immediate access to new order data.
As an added bonus, MightyData also gets to work with some really good people at Lettermen Sports. They help us help them. And that partnership makes all the difference.