A Large Canadian Chain achieves a six-month payback with the implementation of IBM solution

Published on 31-Mar-2010

Validated on 05 Feb 2014

"WebSphere Business Modeler was huge for us. It enabled us to analyze our existing processes, find out where the bottlenecks were, and discover a way to improve them and generate an automated solution" - Solution Architect, Canadian Clothing Chain

Customer:
Canadian Clothing Chain

Industry:
Retail

Deployment country:
Canada

Solution:
Business-to-Business, Business-to-Consumer, Business Process Management (BPM), Customer Relationship Management, Dynamic Infrastructure, Operational Management, Optimizing IT, Service Oriented Architecture

Overview

A large Canadian clothing chain sells men’s and women’s casual business apparel and industrial workwear and safety equipment. The company sells clothes that are sturdy and practical at a price point competitors can’t match.

Business need:
Develop new business objects for finding products in the company’s complex and siloed inventory network.

Solution:
Use business process management to identify high-level business objects and detailed work steps as well as teams and people, bringing people and processes together

Benefits:
Six-month payback on investment in Fast Find project CA$4 million (US$3.7 million) increase in sales in first 10 weeks CA$250,000 (US$231,000) savings per month

Case Study

logo

Achieving a six-month payback with IBM solution

logo

image

image


A large Canadian clothing chain sells men’s and women’s casual business apparel and industrial workwear and safety equipment. The company sells clothes that are sturdy and practical at a price point competitors can’t match.

A commitment to customer service pervades the company. “We strive to keep customers for life,” says says the solution architect. “That means when they can’t find an item they want, we’ll find it for them no matter where it is in our inventory network.”

The company developed a process to enable its retail sales associates to search and move products for its customers when a given retail location was out of stock. While the process resulted in a sale 100 percent of the time, it was time consuming, due to its manual and cumbersome interface.

Finding product across its inventory network was largely a manual process. E-mails and phone calls were the norm, faxing and transferring payment information over the telephone. Overall it took several hours to complete one order.

The company went to work focusing on how to source a product across its existing network, whether it was in a store or distribution center or warehouse. The fulfillment process had to be designed to move the product from point A to point B at the least cost, with controls over the system to provide answers to where the product was at any time.

Business process management provides holistic view

The tool used to model the new process was IBM® WebSphere® Business Modeler.

“We had never done any modeling before or looked at our current processes in any great detail, so WebSphere Business Modeler was huge for us,” says the solution architect. “It enabled us to analyze our existing processes, find out where the bottlenecks were, and discover a way to improve them and generate an automated solution.”

Without having a visual representation with all the processes defined, it had been very difficult for the company to get a holistic view of the entire “as-is” and “to-be” processes.

“We have been an IBM shop for quite a while,” says the solution architect. “We have IBM WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus and IBM WebSphere Process Server for service-oriented architecture, and we heard that WebSphere Business Modeler integrates with the development side very nicely.”

Leveling the playing field

IT spearheads many changes at the company, but often it did so without communicating with business managers about their needs. “Frequently we made assumptions about what was best for the business, but going through the modeling processes with our IT people and our business people leveled the playing field,” says the solution architect. “We were dealing with the problem at a business level for the first time. We weren’t talking about technology at all.”

Working and collaborating together, IT and business teams were able to define what the process needed to look like. They identified the high-level business objects (which are domain models that represent the entities in a business domain such as invoices, line items and orders) that needed to be service-enabled in a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The modeling process even revealed how the teams were going to be organized, connecting people with processes.

At the core of the solution is a Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) process that controls and coordinates the execution of a variety of back-end services that have enabled the company to automate a large part of the process from the initial request for merchandise to merchandise shipment and tracking. Retail store associates use a Web-based interface on the company’s Web storefront to locate, allocate and ship product from another store directly to an address specified by the customer. The solution seamlessly integrates with key back-end systems to provide customer order tracking capabilities throughout the order management life cycle.

“WebSphere Business Modeler offers tremendous value that enables you to define your business processes, but it does much, much more,” says the solution architect. “It enables you to define work steps down to a very granular level.”

Faster customer service

Now with solution the company can find products across its networks efficiently and get the products to the customer faster.

“Efficient sourcing and fulfillment was really central, as well as having some visibility into the process, and streamlining the order capture process,” says the solution architect. “When we were dealing with a paper-based, manual solution, it required lots of e-mailing and phone calls that took up employee time. So, automating that and streamlining the process solved the problem. It decreases the amount of time that the staff has to focus on the customer, and the customer leaves more satisfied.”

Increase in sales volume

The company has seen a definite increase in sales since the solution has been put in place for fulfilling customer requests.

“We’ve seen an increase in sales of CA$4 million in the first 10 weeks,” says the solution architect. “The reason is that customers buy the products they want and come back for more. The shortening of the time it takes to get the product to the customer also saves approximately CA$250,000 per month.”

Six-month return on investment

The company has also been able to reuse the process in several different areas, including its cross-channel and multichannel initiatives. This means savings to the company because it does not have to repeat the same process for every project.

“With reuse, we can be more agile,” says the solution architect. “Reuse also saves us money. With savings and the increased volume of sales, we have experienced a six-month payback of the investment in the project based on IBM WebSphere Business Modeler. In addition to having a tremendous response from the business about the success of the project, we’ve received numerous accolades saying that this was an innovative solution, and we were able to pull it off within the time and budget that were originally set forth.”


For more information

Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/websphere/

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
WebSphere Business Modeler

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2010 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America February 2010 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com and WebSphere are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Other product, company or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study is an example of how one customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.