Retail application modernization project strengthens grocery service provider’s competitive position
Challenge: Maintain a Competitive Edge in the Grocery Services Business
Baltimore-based FMS Solutions Holdings LLC (FMS) is a leading provider of financial, accounting and consulting services to more than 4,000 independent retail grocers and independent supermarket operations across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Faced with increasing competitive threats from superstores, home delivery, changing demographics, and constantly evolving technologies, these customers rely on FMS products and services to make strategic decisions involving every facet of business.
“In the last few years, technology in the grocery industry has changed exponentially,” said Bob Graybill, CEO of FMS Solutions. “Our goal at FMS is to enable our customers to remain competitive and profitable with a class A system similar to what the larger grocery chains have but without the high cost.”
The FMS Vision Suite software package is the company’s flagship offering. Via a combination of technology and best practices, the product captures, organizes, and manages all functions of grocery operations. The company offers the product in a SaaS model as well as business process outsourcing for clients who desire to use FMS’s industry expertise to perform the actual work. The offerings include a full suite of accounting, payroll, treasury services, HR, bill backs, and reporting along with full store integration to capture data. Combined with the product offerings are the invaluable Best Practices that deliver a retail specific product and expertise no one can match.
To maintain its competitive advantage, FMS needed to modernize and re-platform the Vision Suite, which had been developed over decades. Updating the software would enable the company to add new, innovative features and make it more user friendly for customers. In addition, a more sophisticated look and feel would give FMS an edge in sales situations.
To achieve this, FMS wanted to preserve its investment in the business logic and rules that have made the software so popular. The company quickly ruled out a software rewrite or buying a packaged solution.
“An off-the-shelf application would require too much customization because of what we have built around retail grocery,” said Graybill. “With a software rewrite we’d have to start from scratch, and it always takes twice as long as promised at two to three times the budget.”
FMS found a solution in CM First Group’s CM M3 offering to quickly and cost-effectively modernize and expand its Vision Suite while leveraging its existing investment. CM M3 migrates the business rules and logic developed for legacy CA 2E applications onto a modern, multi-tiered enterprise web architecture.
Solution: CM First Group’s CM M3
CM M3 works at scale across CA 2E models to deliver:
- Automatically Migrated CA 2E Business Logic and Screen Designs: Guaranteed to be functionally equivalent, but with a much richer user experience.
- Platform-Independent Provisioning: Migrate RPG or COBOL generated applications to commodity hardware platforms such as the cloud (AWS or Azure) or on-premise Linux or Windows Server – or stay on existing IBM i Power Platform hardware.
- Easy Integration: Built-in API automation to integrate with other enterprise systems such as SAP and Oracle.
- Database Options: Stay with DB2 on the IBM i, or move to popular database platforms such as Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL and DB2 on Linux or Windows.
- Upgraded User Experience: A modern “responsive design” rich internet application that works effectively across phone, tablet, and desktops.
Results: Application Modernization with CM M3
Using CM M3, FMS has modernized the Accounting Module of its Vision Suite, with plans to update the Human Resources and Payroll Modules next. By conserving its time-tested business rules and logic and converting to modern code, FMS can add new functionality its customers need to stay competitive in the ever-changing grocery business.
“CM M3 was exactly what FMS required to modernize and position us for growth. We can now hire developers who understand the up-to-date code and can add more features to keep us a step ahead of our competitors,” said Graybill. “The modern look and feel gives our sales staff a leg up when they go into meetings with CIOs and CFOs.”
“We’ve worked with CM First Group before, so I knew they would deliver a technically sound product on time”
– Bob Graybill, CEO of FMS Solutions
FMS customers gain a streamlined application interface across desktops and mobile devices that is responsive, intuitive, and user friendly. The ability to re-platform its applications to Windows and Linux enables the organization to capitalize on steady advances in computing capabilities. These types of enhancements, including multi-language compatibility, will also enable FMS to expand into new markets.
So far, CM M3 has converted more than 8,000 programs, 4,000 screens, and millions of lines of code. In addition, CM M3 transformed more than 10,000 function objects in CA 2E to CA Plex, Java, and Linux, with more than 95 percent of those function objects automated.
“We’ve worked with CM First Group before, so I knew they would deliver a technically sound product on time,” continued Graybill. “What really impresses me about their process is that I was in the driver’s seat from day one. We had a payment structure based on phases completed, and they came in dead-on from a budgetary perspective.”
FMS is rolling out the updated accounting module of the Vision Suite to all of its 4,000 customers. The goal is a seamless transition, and the feedback has been extremely positive.
The CM M3 Process
CM M3 modernizations enable businesses to transform the applications they depend on and capitalize on modern features that are essential to remain competitive. Fueled by a flexible and scalable automated transformation engine, CM M3 delivers fast, cost-effective, robust, and future-ready CA 2E application modernizations.
CM First Group’s proven M3 process begins with a no-cost automated analysis of the application design and architecture. Next, the company provides a fixed-cost bid for transforming the application. The company then produces a CA Plex model, and programmers proceed quickly to QA and deployment. CM First Group experts are available as needed to provide expert guidance from initial assessment to acceptance testing and implementation. Typically, projects are scheduled for durations of six to nine months and are completed on time and on budget.