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Keeping it Fresh

Tony’s Fine Foods serves up the newest mission-critical data with BI tools

Tony’s Fine Foods serves up the newest mission-critical data with BI tools
Photo by Mike Graffigna

A Few New Twists

Tony’s also gained the power of DB2*, the type of strong database that had also been on its wish list. Retalix, of course, writes to and reads from DB2, but both Geery and Nasater wanted to bolster the application’s report-generating capabilities. Geery explains, “It had reports and report options you could use, but it was missing some selection criteria. In fact, it’s very good for dumping, for example, all of the open accounts receivables for all our customers, but we wanted more selectivity, so we could look up AR information by date and other criteria and bring that into Excel.”

As Nasater further explains, “It really didn’t have an ad-hoc query writer. We could use Query/400 or Query Manager—and we did—which was fine for us and a few of the other technical people here, but on-demand reporting was lacking. So we’d give people day-end, week-end, month-end reports, but we didn’t feel that was a robust enough report-generating environment for our end users.”

Another issue was that Tony’s didn’t have an RPG programmer on staff when it migrated to the new ERP suite and IBM i. This meant the company would have to go back to Retalix, its ERP vendor, for some custom reports. Nasater has since learned to program in RPG and found it “easy to build some custom reports or tweak existing reports,” Geery says. “This is in part because a lot of the reports aren’t really all that sophisticated. But there were always some new twists we needed to incorporate into our reporting.”

This is especially true because of the dynamic nature of the industry in which Tony’s operates. In some cases, the ERP software and in-house reports weren’t keeping pace. For example, when ramping up for the holiday season, the company would carry extra stock, such as pies, at satellite warehouses. This type of activity isn’t the norm during the rest of the year, and some ERP rules wouldn’t allow for reporting on that—nor did the IT department want to build in-depth queries for this type of out-of-the-norm activity.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at



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