Solutions

FileMaker Integrates with Legacy System at Australian Clothing Label Mambo

Mambo

Australian clothing label Mambo chooses FileMaker to handled design, sample production, pricing requirements for all components necessary to produce the range of clothing, and cataloguing to enable orders.

Overview

  • When Australian clothing label Mambo was acquired by manufacturer and importer Gazal Corporation, the company's IT department found that Mambo's FileMaker Pro–based design and ordering systems could integrate with the legacy system used by Gazal — thanks to the ability of FileMaker Pro to connect with corporate data sources

Industry

  • Manufacturing
  • Medium–Large Business

Being user–friendly is a plus, but it makes us come undone sometimes because (people think) if it's too easy, it can't be powerful

— Steve McManus, General Manager, FileMaker Inc. Asia–Pacific Region

Business Challenge

A return to the old ways is proving to be the way forward for irreverent Mambo clothing label. Mambo may be known for a lack of conservatism in its T–shirts, accessories and art, but the same progressive philosophy does not apply to IT.

The wholly owned subsidiary of clothing manufacturer and importer Gazal Corporation recently aborted a Lotus Notes database implementation in favour of reinventing a FileMaker system to service its expanding needs.

Established in 1984, Mambo has grown from a niche surf–wear label to a national lifestyle icon with global brand aspirations. It employs 250 people worldwide and is marketed throughout Asia and Europe.

This growth had not been matched in IT infrastructure, however, as noted by managing director David Gazal in March, 2000, when Gazal Corporation bought Mambo after manufacturing its garments for 10 years under licence.

"The one–company approach going forward creates great opportunity to maximise the potential growth of the Mambo brand, both in Australia and worldwide. Our commitment to building a sourcing and IT base from which the business can grow creates the tools needed to achieve this growth," Gazal says.

Thus the company set out to merge, or at least interface, the design and ordering systems used by Mambo with the legacy system used by Gazal.

Successful Solution

Mambo was using two FileMaker databases developed in–house — for design and garment styling. But the two did not communicate, although both provided images for a graphics–heavy trade catalogue three times a year.

Gazal's legacy system, an early version of SSA Global Technologies' BPCS (Business Planning and Control System), has served the company well since 1994 but demanded manual re–entry of all Mambo data to perform material requisitions, production scheduling and inventory tasks satisfactorily.

"They were different systems with a gulf of an interface between the two and a whole pile of paper handed over between them," says Mambo operations manager Shaun Cameron–Lee.

"The duplication of data and margin for human error was incredible. The integrity of the data was pretty sloppy."

According to Cameron–Lee, Mambo managed to keep up with sales growth only because staff spent a lot of time double–checking data.

However, when consultants came to recommend an IT solution, Lotus Notes was hailed as the most robust system for the task and the only one guaranteed to interface with BPCS, which runs on an IBM AS/400 server. Gazal and Mambo believed their original FileMaker databases would not converse with the mainframe.

But mainly we can now make better (purchasing) decisions based on more accurate and quicker data with less frustration.

— Shaun Cameron–Lee, Operations Manager, Mambo

Approximately $200,000 and seven implementation stages later, the company realised Lotus Notes could do many things well, but could not cope with the graphic load required by Mambo, whose typical summer range includes about 500 styles in varying sizes and colours.

So Gazal went back to FileMaker for advice and was recommended the services of another consultancy, database developer Key Software.

"Within an hour, one of our experienced technical directors was able to prove that their old system could talk to the AS/400," says Key Software director Joseph Suhr.

The company then implemented a complete redesign of the databases using FileMaker Pro 5.5 into a central system to cater for design, sample production, pricing requirements for all components necessary to produce the range, and cataloguing to enable orders.

The system went live in July and has finished downloading this year's second fashion season without significant glitches.

Although no measures in productivity or efficiency gains are available, Cameron–Lee says the reduced margin for error derived from the electronic interface between Mambo and Gazal will have a direct cost benefit.

"But mainly we can now make better (purchasing) decisions based on more accurate and quicker data with less frustration," he says.

The system will be gradually rolled out to other brands in the Gazal stable.

However, further development will be done using SQL database technology. Phase two will allow historic sales orders to be extrapolated to produce component purchase orders for the coming season, and phase three will facilitate international logistics.

Key Software's Suhr says SQL will better track modification history to a field and serve as an audit file of each design.

Customer Benefits

"Being user–friendly is a plus, but it makes us come undone sometimes because (people think) if it's too easy, it can't be powerful," he said.

Gazal now intends to review the trusted BPCS system, although the AS/400 is staying put.

Gazal IT manager Jim Lynch says the company has started looking at options to replace BPCS to obtain the Web–enabled facilities built into new packages. But it will not jump into new technology too soon.

"The (clothing) industry is not known for being technology–driven. We see ourselves as ahead of the competition, but we won't jump at anything just for the sake of technology. We've got to make sure it is going to work, long before we sign off on anything."

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/10/13/1034222639032.html

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com