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Handhelds help wood company log instant quotations

Sales staff at wood products manufacturer Norbord are saving an average of two hours a week each after the firm switched to handheld devices linked to its dedicated quotation engine.

Norbord, which makes products such as chipboard and MDF, previously issued its travelling sales staff with dial-up connected laptops. Stuart Auld, Norbord's network team leader, said quote applications could only be transferred into the system overnight - and customers had to wait until the following day to have a quote confirmed.

With the new system, which was built using CommonTime's mSuite software, sales teams can now deliver quotes within a few minutes while still face-to-face with the customer.

"It will improve customer satisfaction," said Auld. "Our customers are a close-knit group - there are only so many you can sell to.

"Although the system is unlikely to boost revenue, it will give customers even more reason to stay with us rather than go to another supplier."

A survey by Norbord of all workers using the handhelds found that on average they were saving about two hours a week.

The quotation engine, which was developed in-house around Lotus Notes, runs on an HP DL380 server with a Windows 2003 Server operating system. Employees use Vodafone VPA Compact handheld devices to access the quote engine, e-mail and calendaring.

Norbord plans to link up the handhelds to stock management applications to enable warehouse staff to enter data as they view stock, rather than taking notes and re-keying information later.


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