15:00 hrs: A message isreceived at an export organisation in India from a buyer in the UK…… cancelling order no. DH17003, due to delay in delivery ……suddenly there is a hue and cry in the organisation. The sequence of events that ensues is very familiar….. A meeting is called for by the Director with the senior merchandiser and production in charge, who refutes the charge and actually reverts the blame onto the buyer for numerous delays on account of approvals and change of specs, etc.
But when was the sample submitted? After how many days was the approval received? How many times were measurements changed in the specs and which? The director wants proof …. The complete sequence of events……When what happened….., et al. Two junior merchandisers are immediately summoned to dig out records from files and e-mails and create a history log for order DH17003 in chronological order.
Sounds familiar in your organisation too?….Do you have any idea how many man hours are lost in the process of making the statement of records? More importantly, whether all the information is found in the right place? Whether the info was compiled in time? Lastly, a manual search is bound to have mistakes.
All small and medium exporting and buying organisations are not using specialised ERP or other PDM/PLM software and are unlikely to do so due to their scale of operations. But they, in all likelihood, are using Outlook Express for communicating with their buyers and suppliers. A small software intervention may work wonders for you. The software can search, retrieve style specific information, prune unwanted information and arrange them chronologically just by pressing a button! A new software, developed by Deepika Jha, a Masters of Fashion Technology programme student, under the tutelage of faculty members at National Institute of Fashion Technology, India may save your time and effort.
The Origin of the Current Problem
A single executive deals with multiple buyers; even with one buyer, communication takes place for multiple styles. The normal practice of writing mails is that, generally, one mail addressed to one person may contain information about multiple styles together. Later, searching for information pertaining to one specific style is a cumbersome manual job as the current outlook search mechanism does not support keyword specific search from the body of the message.
Outlook Express Search Engine
Outlook Express Search Engine software is developed for searching and sorting of information from the body of a message in different folders of Outlook Express, like Inbox and Sent Item Folder, based on key words. This project uses the features of Outlook and a concept of search to perform tasks that are not specifically Outlook tasks but can be implemented in an Outlook interface. The software was developed using VBA (Visual Basic Application) Programming.
The user benefit from building this custom Outlook application (“Outlook Express Search Engine”) is to automate tasks in Outlook, which would otherwise require users to perform a significant amount of work.
Some Important Characteristics of Search
- Search is not case sensitive and looks for a match or close match.
- The software will provide the flexibility to perform search on the entire mail in the inbox, sent item folder of Outlook or sorting of mails based on sender name or date and then perform search on those sorted mails, based on key word(s).
- Searched Mail windows will not display the whole message body; it will display a few extracted lines which contain the key word(s).
- A separate list of all searched mails is prepared for further reference, every time a search is performed.
- Messages can be read using software; it does not require opening of Outlook for reading the mail.