BYU Develops Online Ordering Solution
Some in-plants have designed their own Web-based ordering systems. Find out how Brigham Young University did it—inexpensively and successfully.
by Eduardo Godinez
While processing dozens of paper forms with requests for stationery materials from our campus, some questions came to mind: How can we speed up the process of ordering stationery? Can we utilize the Internet to facilitate the process?
We browsed the Web in search of some answers. Looking at the available options, we noticed all of them had the same common denominator: They were expensive for what we thought of as a simple process.
At that point, we felt that maybe we could develop a system that might just do what we needed—an online ordering system that would allow our clients to typeset their own business cards, letterheads and envelopes.
In the first three months, more than 1,500 Internet users tested our system and as many as 800 orders were placed.
The idea was simple in concept: We didn't want to distract our clients or give them the wrong idea. We wanted them to see exactly what their business card or letterhead would look like right on their computer screens, and give them the ability to input and submit their orders.
Once the basic idea was conceptualized, we started working on it just as a challenge—nothing official. We developed the system on our free time. We noticed that one thing developed into another and suddenly, with a little bit of luck, we came up with a system that would render, in real time, a business card with correct PostScript fonts and the official logo of the university, all the elements of the job, using just the Internet.
As we developed the basic system, additional elements were being added, such as a job ticket generator, electronic e-mail receipt generator, tracking, shipping and bar coding.