IBM halves Woolworths maintenance calls

Summary:Woolworths has dramatically improved the efficiency of handling maintenance issues across its Australian retail operations with an upgrade to its IBM Maximo Asset Management software.

Woolworths has dramatically improved the efficiency of handling maintenance issues across its Australian retail operations with an upgrade to its IBM Maximo Asset Management software.

The company's call centre had been handling 1000 to 1200 calls per day, raising issues from stores across its brands, including Woolworths supermarkets and Big W stores, electronics retailers Dick Smith and Tandy, liquor stores Dan Murphy's, BWS and Langton's and AHL Group hotels.

Issues were being tracked in Maximo 5.2, but the software had reached end of life, and was running on the superseded Windows 2000 Service Park 1 operating system.

The system also only supported part of the maintenance management process. Unless a store called again to report that an issue had been resolved, it wasn't tracked again until the contractor issued their invoice three to six months later.

"We were pushed to the point where we had to upgrade," Sunil Manilal, Woolworths' senior business systems and data analyst, told the IBM Pulse 2011 event in Melbourne.

"One of the factors that limited us moving to an upgrade sooner was [that] we had highly customised the application to match our business processes," he said.

The first Maximo upgrade proposal had been rejected because it was "slap bang in the middle" of the global financial crisis. When the upgrade to Maximo 7 was finally approved, the project included the creation of a self-service portal for stores to report maintenance issues, and for vendors to report their resolution.

When the system went live in June this year, call volumes were reduced by up to 50 per cent.

Maximo 7 also automated the process of manually reviewing and approving thousands of contracts and recipient-created tax invoices (RCTIs) for small contractors, such as cleaners. The "tedious" manual process had previously required two staff to handle the end-of-financial-year coding.

"With version seven, we could implement store self service using a mashup-type technology, hooking straight into Maximo 7 object services, which are a sequence of web services, which are quite easy to expose," said IBM client software architect Michael Horry.

"The vendor portal we could implement in version seven, because its user interface actually can be exposed as a portal according to the Java Portal Standards."

The RCTIs would have been difficult in version five, but in version seven the functionality required was very similar to the lease contract module, Horry said.

The system currently supports 140 users, but will soon be rolled out to a total of around 3000.

Stilgherrian is attending Pulse 2011 as a guest of IBM.

Topics: IBM

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit tr... Full Bio

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