Provia Brings SOA to WMS for Extensible Warehouse Solution

Service orientated architecture in latest warehouse management system provides personalization, configurability, business intelligence features

Service orientated architecture in latest warehouse management system provides personalization, configurability, business intelligence features

Grand Rapids, MI — November 22, 2005 — Supply chain execution (SCE) solution provider Provia has released the latest version of its warehouse management system (WMS), highlighting the system's service orientated architecture (SOA), which provides integrated business intelligence and personalization capabilities and allows for extended breadth and depth of the WMS, according to Provia.

With SOA, Provia said that version 7.0 of its ViaWare WMS can easily be integrated into an existing IT and supply chain solution environment. "The SOA architecture breaks up the entire WMS functionality into small, individual, functional components that are stored in a system library," said Greg Aimi in the October 2005 AMR Research Report "The 2005 AMR Research Warehouse Management System Selection Guide."

"The components are then assembled together using a set of business process workflow statements (think business process flowcharts), where each process block in the workflow is a functional component," Aimi continued. "If a customization is needed, a new custom component is developed and stored separately from the vendor's components but woven into the regular workflow."

"Adding service orientated architecture to Provia's existing multi-owner, multi-warehouse application is a giant technological leap for the WMS industry," said Ken Lewis, president and CEO of Provia Software. "With SOA, a company can preserve a standard product, packaged approach to their WMS by taking upgrade releases, yet maintain a competitive advantage by tailoring the WMS to their specific needs instead of waiting for ... a new release."

Integrate Business Intelligence

In addition, Provia said that the Integrated Business Intelligence in ViaWare WMS gives corporate and management staff easy access to multiple levels of information analysis and related functionality, and it delivers reporting so everyone can have the information they need when they need it.

Through a dashboard view, users can sift and sort through all the transaction data in real time from every warehouse in their distribution network and drill down to a detailed level in order to view the most current information and make better business decisions. Users can also view the specific information that's important to them that day, and modify their views as events and situations change, according to Provia.

"Companies have so much information available to them today that it's become an 'information overload' scenario, where they can't find the right information at the right time," said Lewis. "The business intelligence capabilities in ViaWare WMS ensure that all facets of a company have the right information they need at their fingertips and can turn it into meaningful reports and analysis that everyone can use to improve the overall performance of their operation."

Web Services Features

Lewis said that the solution allows any user with the appropriate security levels to get access to the WMS at any time from wherever they are. "For example, a user in one warehouse can view inventory levels in another, or a manager at an off-site meeting can monitor and chart worker productivity remotely," he said.

With the Web services architecture in ViaWare WMS, companies can also add unique functionality to the WMS on their own while maintaining a standard product solution and without the need to redevelop, reintegrate or retest the application extensions for future releases.

"We invested a tremendous amount of time incorporating Web services into every aspect of our product," said Lewis. "While others add a Web service call here or there and call it good, Provia decided to use Web services internally as the communication method behind each and every screen (including RF screens). This way, everything a user can do through ViaWare WMS can be accomplished via a Web service."

New Personalization Capabilities

The personalization capabilities in ViaWare WMS provide end user adaptability for the desktop and radio frequency (RF) and mobile devices so that users can setup and adapt menus, screens, language, reports, mobile device dialogs and field level access to meet changing operational and customer requirements, according to Provia.

"The level of flexibility in the way data are presented on the desktop and mobile devices with ViaWare WMS gives end-users the control they need to make the content and completion of tasks more efficient to best fit the work and individual employee for optimal usability and effectiveness and, ultimately, a reduced level of errors," said Lewis.

ViaWare WMS offers a thin-client architecture that allows for upgrades to be accomplished through a Web browser and eliminates the need for making software upgrades on a clients' desktop, RF or mobile device, as all upgrades take place directly on the server and the clients are instantly upgraded, according to Provia.

"Many of our customers have 300-400 end users, so not having to make updates on each desktop or mobile device will have a huge impact on the total cost of ownership for ViaWare users," stated Lewis.

ViaWare WMS operates on either Windows or Unix hardware platforms using the same source code, with support for the SQL Server, Oracle and IBM databases.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Think your distribution operations have been put to the test? A closer look at the U.S. Army's multi-million-square-foot distribution center that was established in Kuwait two years ago to support Operation Iraqi Freedom provides some insight for companies looking improve distribution operations under harsh conditions. Read more in "Lessons from the Operation Iraqi Freedom Theater Distribution Center to Improve Your Supply Chain Operations," an exclusive.

— A logistics team is called upon to craft supply chain processes that update logistics and inventory management at the growing retail chain Michaels Stores Inc. Read more in "The Art of Supply Chain Optimization," a Best Practices article in the October/November 2005 issue of Supply and Demand Chain Executive.

— Looking to outsource your supply chain? For five success factors for your outsourcing project Read "Rising to the Challenge of the Outsourced Supply Chain," cover story in the October/November 2005 issue of Supply and Demand Chain Executive.