Order Fulfillment Computer Systems for Publishers

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The AAUP Business Handbook >> Part Three: Managing Operations

Order Fulfillment Systems

Today there are several choices of computer systems to handle the full range of book order fulfillment functions for publishers. To initialize such systems, publishers set up databases for titles, customers, sales reps, authors, and royalty rates. The input of customer orders, returns, and adjustments creates files of data for generating invoices and credit memos, reports of sales and adjustments, sales commissions, royalties earned, costs of goods sold, inventory transactions and valuations, and aging of accounts receivable. These computer systems enhance credit management by enabling operators to lock out orders on accounts on hold. Mailing list maintenance is another valuable feature of these systems.

In choosing an order fulfillment system, you will want to ask computer vendors and current users of a system you are considering a variety of questions.

1. What kind of equipment is needed to run your computer system?

2. Is the hardware your system uses industry standard?

3. Does your system run on a network? (If your university press doesn't currently have a network, they should plan for one.)

4. If your system requires a network, is it industry standard?

5. How was your system tested? How long has your system been in use? How many clients do you have?

6. Describe the features of your system. Is it a completely integrated system, or can it be purchased in modules?

7. How does the customization process work? What choices do we have if we choose your system? Are there user-defined fields in any of your files, particularly book or customer files?

8. How user-friendly is your system? Can a user move easily between the various programs or modules of the system-for example, between the order entry program and customer information screens, or between the customer information screen and the book information screen? (On a network, the user should be able to open the system twice and move independently in each open system, as well as moving quickly from one to the other.)

9. What security features does your system have? What backup equipment do you support?

10. Does your system support a security lock-out or authorization program that works function by function and user by user? (The purpose of this feature is to allow for separation of duties, such as preventing someone who can create an invoice from applying payments.)

11. Can a user make modifications while using the "view" programs? (Although being able to make modifications while "viewing" is often efficient, it may introduce security risks, such as making it possible for unauthorized persons to remove customers from credit hold.)

12. How do you provide technical support? What hours is the support available? How large is your support staff? What does support cost? Also ask users: Do you have a programmer on staff, or do you hire a freelancer to fix bugs and customize systems? Is this service paid on a flat-rate or per-hour basis? Would you recommend buying the system you have without a local programmer available for fixing bugs and customizing it?

13. How often has your system been upgraded?

14. Can you participate in EDI (electronic data interchange)? How does your system handle electronic ordering, electronic transfer for receivables data, credit card processing, and linking with shipping manifest systems for automatic shipping confirmation?

15. How does your system handle a client's business growth? How small is your smallest client? How large is your largest?

16. How does information flow through your system?

17. What audit trails are provided routinely?

18. What do the invoices, credit memos, and various reports look like?

19. How does the report selection work?

20. Is it easy to use a report generator with your system?

21. How does your system handle prepaid orders paid by check or credit card?

22. How will your system handle our customer discount structure?

23. Does your royalty program allow for automatic calculation of royalties in circumstances where our royalty arrangements are most complex?

24. How clear is the documentation? Does the documentation show how to handle various adjustments? Does it show what effect each entry has on accounts receivable? Does it show what to look for in reconciling to the university general ledger? What help features are online for users?

25. What happens at month end? At year end? Can we choose our own fiscal year for year-end closings?

26. What kind of training do you provide? Do you provide it in our office or at your location? How long does it take for the average person to become proficient in the use of your system?

27. If my press wants to use data from the system, can we easily download to other programs, such as Lotus, Excel, FileMaker, or dBase? Does your system have internal mail-merge letter capability?

28. What kinds of modifications can we make without your intervention? Is there any customization that we can handle on our own, for example, changing the press's telephone number or address, discount schedule, sales commission terms, etc.?

29. How is your system priced? Is there one fee for the entire system, or is it priced per module? How is your fee for enhancements or customization determined? Is there a monthly licensing fee? What is your fee structure for support as problems arise? Is there a charge for unsolicited upgrades?

30. How do you assess the longevity of your company? How many people at your company know the workings of the system? How would your company survive the sudden death of your founder or chief executive?

31. What should we do to expedite the transition to your computer system?

System Users and Contacts

The following is a list of computer systems designed for order fulfillment, the companies that sell them, their addresses, contact persons (if known), and current known university press users. The list was updated on July 20, 1994.

ACUMEN Book Publisher Information System (for the Macintosh)


803 Juniper Lane

Santa Fe NM 87501

Telephone: (505) 983-6463

Contact: Larry Wolf

University press users: unknown

The Cat's Pajamas Computer Systems for Publishers

The Cat's Pajamas

1253 Highway 20

Anacortes WA 98221

Telephone: (800) 462-8799 or (206) 293-8372

Contact: Toni Petrinovich

University press users: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Arte Publico, British Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Louisiana State, Mercer, Michigan State, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New England, New Mexico, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Southern Illinois, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Utah, Utah State, Virginia, Wayne State, West Indies, Wisconsin


Computing Information Services

11225 North 28th Drive

Suite A-208

Phoenix AZ 85029

Telephone: (602) 993-5811

Contact: Bryan Pellegrini

University press users: California/Princeton, Carleton, Chicago, Cornell, Michigan, Minnesota, Naval Institute

Global Turnkey Systems

Global Turnkey Systems, Inc.

4 North Street

Waldwick NJ 07463

Telephone: (201) 445-5050

Contacts: Tom Fontanazza, Communications Center Manager

Richard Rosen, Sales Rep

University press users: Columbia, Duke, Harvard, MIT, Washington

Mercedes Information System for Publishers

Mercedes Data Systems

62 Imlay Street

Brooklyn NY 11231

Telephone: (718) 522-7111

Contact: unknown

University press users: unknown

PCS Outsourcing Program

PCS Data Processing, Inc.

360 West 31st Street

New York NY 10001-2727

Telephone: (212) 564-3730

Contact: Bert Rodd, Vice President, Marketing

University press users: Brookings Institution, New York, Smithsonian Institution, Temple, Wesleyan

PBS (Publishers Business System)

(PBS Lite, PBS Advanced, PBS Pro, PBS Mac)

RH Communications, Inc.

P.O. Box 26225

Colorado Springs CO 80936

Telephone: (719) 592-9024

Fax: (719) 592-0960

Contact: unknown

University press users: unknown

PIIGS (Publishers Invoice & Information Generating System)

Upper Access, Inc.

P.O. Box 457

Hinesburg VT 05461

Telephone: (800) 356-9315

Contact: unknown

University press users: unknown

TOPS (The Optimum Publishing System)

CSSC Incorporated

300 Raritan Center Parkway

Edison NJ 08818-7816

Telephone: (908) 225-5555

Fax: (908) 225-0812

Contact: Kenneth Meyers, National Sales Manager

University press users: unknown

Vista Publishing Software (only for very large users)

Located in England

University press users: Oxford, Yale

The AAUP Business Handbook >> Part Three: Managing Operations

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