Published on 04-Nov-2011
"It was crucial to Gist’s strategy that our B2B integration was simplified into a single solution able to eliminate manual processes and provide scalability with a range of trading partners. Not only did this create real-time visibility into our supply chain, but with Sterling as our B2B integration partner, we can continue to focus on delivering outstanding customer service." - Susannah Teixeira, Application Architect,Gist Limited
Cloud Computing, SaaS, Smarter Commerce
Third party logistics company and member of The Linde Group, Gist develops flexible logistics and supply chain solutions to enable its suppliers, distributors, retailers, and transport companies to best meet the challenges involved in the distribution of a wide range of ambient, chilled, and frozen products. Specialising in chilled distribution, Gist employs over 5,000 employees across 35 sites and has 1,200 vehicles dedicated to collection and delivery. Gist prides itself in putting customers at the forefront of its business.
Gist was looking to consolidate multiple internal systems to create a scalable B2B integration platform able to automate and provide real-time visibility of critical documents exchanged with diverse trading partners.
Gist acknowledged the need for a strategic review of its IT architecture that would enhance visibility into its systems and provide an accurate view of trading partner information. In defining the approach to a flexible and future-proof integration solution, Gist identified the requirement to firstly consolidate to a single, simplified, and standardised solution; and secondly, to buy rather than build the solution. Future-proofing of the architecture was carried out through a trading partner assessment conducted by IBM Sterling Community Development Services.
Completes automation of key business-critical processes• Offers faster on-boarding of trading partners• Reduces document error rates• Offers scalability and flexibility in handling new partner message requirements• Offers greater visibility of business critical documents entering the warehouse management systems for efficient order fulfilment
Delivering customer excellence through the automation of business critical processes
Third party logistics company and member of The Linde Group, Gist develops flexible logistics and supply chain solutions to enable its suppliers, distributors, retailers, and transport companies to best meet the challenges involved in the distribution of a wide range of ambient, chilled, and frozen products.
Specializing in chilled distribution, Gist employs over 5,000 employees across 35 sites and has 1,200 vehicles dedicated to collection and delivery. Gist prides itself in putting customers at the forefront of its business.
Supporting a wide range of internal business functions, Gist’s IT landscape consisted of diverse applications, services, and functionality. To enable communications between systems, Gist relied on customized, hard-coded, point-to-point solutions requiring excessive manual effort to update when adding new applications.
Gist caters to partners of all sizes with B2B capabilities ranging in levels of sophistication. As more trading partners joined the community, the inability to scale and slow implementation cycles hindered revenue growth. This was further exacerbated by the demands of seasonal peaks, in particular around Christmas; Easter; and Valentine’s and Mother’s days when the number of documents processed increases substantially.
A key driver of Gist’s B2B requirements was the need to cater for many different types of business messages from many different customers, including the introduction of an electronic despatch note by one of its customers for all of their suppliers. Because the food suppliers delivered goods to Gist depots, it became imperative to be able to receive the despatch notes electronically from the suppliers, eliminating the need for manual processing of paper formats.
Gist acknowledged the need for a strategic review of its IT architecture that would enhance visibility into its systems and provide an accurate view of trading partner information. In defining the approach to a flexible and future-proof integration solution, Gist identified the requirement to firstly consolidate to a single, simplified, and standardised solution; and secondly, to buy rather than build the solution.
Gist decided that an “as-a-Service” model using a multi-tenant platform would provide the scalability and reliability they needed and enable them to leverage the economies of scale available from a cloud-based solution. The ”managed” element of the service includes a dedicated Services Manager whose role is to develop a partnering relationship aimed at understanding how Gist can get the most from the service to meet their changing business requirements.
Future-proofing of the architecture was carried out through a trading partner assessment conducted by IBM Sterling Community Development Services with current and future requirements in mind. The service was rolled-out to Gist’s customer base over a twelve month period through a joint Gist and IBM project team.
Through a single, security-rich connection to the IBM integration “as-a-Service” platform, Gist is able to automate the transformation of business documents into any required data format or protocol, and exchanges them in a security-enhanced manner to and from any trading partner, in any location. Visibility of the documents being exchanged enables Gist to better manage the associated B2B processes and supports the trading partner community. This allows Gist to focus its in-house integration expertise and improve business processes that are critical to customer satisfaction.
Sterling B2B Integration Services Plus has enabled Gist to automate the exchange of business critical data and has provided real-time visibility and ‘traffic light’ status alerting of transaction data. Consequently, the company has moved from a complex, error prone, and labor intensive architecture to a standardized and simplified B2B integration framework.
A key perceived benefit to Gist was the ability to automate processes within the warehouse and eliminate errors associated with manual data entry into its systems. As a result of automated interfacing to the warehouse management system, a quicker turn-around and new innovative processes – such as fast-tracking suppliers’ deliveries within the warehouse – was achieved.
Gist is also making use of the IBM ability to offer multiple communication types and process multiple message types. This means that they are able to respond quickly and with confidence to new customer requirements, even if they are not part of Gist’s standard offering.
In summary, the company can easily accommodate a rapidly changing customer landscape and the shifting requirements of its customers. Gist continues to add new services, new document types, and new trading partners to its B2B offering.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
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