FCS is a Japanese based system integrator whose core business is delivering mission-critical applications to customers in various industries.
These customers vary across industries and include a convenience store chain, a leading automobile parts supplier, a travel agency and, a trading company among others.
With offices in both Tokyo and Osaka and around 150 employees, FCS’s vision is to vitalize Japanese business with the practical use of IT. In this highly competitive marketplace customers not only expect rapid delivery of their applications, but they also want to be able to quickly and easily integrate any changes that are inevitable with every customer.
When FCS initially looked for a development tool to build enterprise applications, it had several criteria for the vendor. FCS Sales Director, Mr. Shinji Hashiuchi, explains what the company was looking for in an application development environment: First, it was important to choose a tool which was globally renowned, and not just a Japanese- based tool. It was also crucial that the tool and the vendor be around for the long term given the nature of the mission-critical applications they build. After evaluating several tools, FCS chose Uniface because of its global track record, productivity and commitment for future enhancements and has since been using Uniface for over 20 years.
Key Benefits of Uniface
In 2011, a customer came to FCS to ask for help building a new, mission-critical Electronic Ordering System (EOS) for placing and receiving orders. The application requirements included creating 230 screens, handling 40 batch jobs, processing 50,000 orders per day and it needed to be in operation 24/7. The application would have to integrate with their Oracle database which included over 300 tables, containing 200 million records and was a total size of 51GB.
Before the customer came to FCS, a team of eight developers from a competitor system integrator had been tasked with developing this application in .NET, over a 2 year period. They, however, could not meet the delivery date and the project was in serious risk of failing. When the customer conducted a review of the project, they determined several reasons why they needed to stop the development in .NET and look elsewhere. Some examples include:
- The processes around development practices needed to be improved. During the review, the customer found that there was no test environment, and changes that were made to the production environment resulted in spaghetti code that was impossible to maintain.
- They also found that there was too much reliance on one developer in the team, making it extremely risky for future deployment and maintenance.
- Finally, they saw that the productivity of C# was not as good as they had expected, which lead to major delays in completing the application.
At this point, they decided to abandon the project in its entirety and find another solution to get the application they required deployed in the shortest amount of time possible.
Mr. Hashiuchi and his team wanted to understand exactly what the end user needed before they could make their recommendation. Once they had a good understanding of application requirements and customer delivery expectations, it was clear to FCS that the best solution was to re-build the application using Uniface because of its proven track record of reliability and productivity.
Using the agile development methodology, FCS used Uniface for the core of the application, and then integrated it with other tools for the reporting and data conversion aspects. It wasn’t long before significant progress was shown to the customer and FCS demonstrated that they were meeting project milestones that had never been achieved by the previous .NET team.
At this point the customer was so impressed by the progress of the project, that they ended up adding additional functionality to the initial development phase of the application that was originally planned for the future. In the end the development team was able to deliver the application to the customer in just six months.
“Using the repository functionality of Uniface is key. We put all the necessary data definitions in a repository and don’t have to write source code. This way, when a change is needed, all we have to do is change the repository and the changes will be inherited by the application automatically.”
– Jun Hiraoka, Consultant Sales Department
The deployment went smoothly and the client server application proved to deliver excellent end user productivity and effective data entry capabilities. For operational management, FCS deployed the application using a virtual machine (VM) environment and used the thin client functionality of Uniface Anywhere. Currently there are plans to continually enhance and expand the application by adding significant functionality around the logistics and marketing components of the application.
its integration capabilities with other tools, for example, business intelligence (BI). “It is important to choose tools for particular functions and make an application by integrating the necessary functionality,” notes Mr. Hashiuchi. Uniface makes integration with other solutions easy.Another important reason why using Uniface has enabled successful projects is because of the repository functionality.
“As a long term Uniface customer with 20 years’ experience, we have developed many mission-critical applications. Our history with Uniface provides us with certainty that Uniface will help our customers’ future business needs, such as the web and mobile.”
– Mr. Shinji Hashiuchi, FCS Sales Director
Given FCS’s diverse customer portfolio, the company has been able to develop mission-critical applications in many areas, from an ERP system for a photography and camera equipment manufacturer, to a retail system for a timber company and a distribution application for a customer who manufactures household goods. Long-term relationships with its customers and providers are important to FCS and they provide maintenance and service updates for almost all of the applications they have built. Together with their customers, they are always looking at adding additional functionality and further enhancing the deployed applications.
FCS sees a growing demand in the market for cloud- and web-based solutions. They are currently creating web-enabled packages of their software and are, as a result, seeing the number of users increasing. “Supporting these technologies also makes sense from a maintenance perspective, as we only need to maintain one instance.”
Deployment to mobile devices is also on FCS’s radar. One of their customers is looking to introduce Windows tablets for their field workers and they want to use the same screen that was developed for c/s.