Order Fulfillment Computer Systems for Publishers

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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 avail able 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 on-line 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 mod ule? 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 up grades?

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?

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)

ACUMEN, Inc. 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

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