PestBusters goes cloud to address labor crunch

[Case study] Singapore-based pest extermination firm is in the midst of adopting public cloud services for a common operations system to eliminate duplicate processes and help overcome labor crunch.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The labor crunch in Singapore and the need to get rid of duplicate processes prompted local pest extermination company PestBusters to adopt cloud computing services for all its IT needs.

In an interview with ZDNet, PestBusters CEO Thomas Fernandez said the company had been burdened by many duplicated internal processes, which in turn led to more paperwork to store.

For instance, a customer order currently goes through the sales and operations departments for verification before being sent to the accounts unit for detailed to be logged in. The order form would then be returned to sales, which would then dispatch the field workers to complete the order, he explained.

"There is plenty of duplication going on now, and we are looking to cut that down through public cloud services," Fernandez said.

Another reason cited by the CEO for the company's decision to outsource its IT systems to third-party service providers was to mitigate the effects of a tight labor market and tougher regulations on hiring foreign workers.

Fernandez said in an interview last month with Channel NewsAsia that while demand for its services remained high, it was short on manpower despite investing in prison roadshows, putting up job placements and holding job fairs with Community Development Councils.

"It is really, really frustrating. We are not in manufacturing where we can automate. I can't get robots to go and find a cockroach in the kitchen and kill it," he said.

Cloud aids efficiency
With these factors in mind, Fernandez set the company on its path to cloud computing by getting its outsourced IT department--managed by local tech consulting company Pioneer InfoTech--to utilize StarHub's public cloud services.

Specifically, the telco will be providing PestBusters with a customized IT system that would give staff a common e-mail and telephone system, as well as a centralized operations monitoring system.

This would allow every department to have access to the sales orders logged in, when the job has been completed, and when the invoice are submitted, thus eliminating duplicated paper documentation, Fernandez stated.

"This way, we let the system run the company," he said.

There will be a backup server installed on premise for failover purposes though, so the business can still function in case of unexpected service downtimes by StarHub, the executive noted.

To facilitate this IT makeover, the company has spent some 2 to 3 months sorting out its repository of paper documents collected since its inception. The entire implementation process for the new IT system will take about 2 months to complete, and the projected live date is Jan. 1, 2013, the executive said.

The entire project is expected to cost S$300,000 (US$245,829), but PestBusters has also hired a financial consultant to look through the expenditure and see if it qualifies for any government grants on offer such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme, he added.

Training made easy
The centralized IT system also serves the purpose of having training materials uploaded online for a more sustainable teaching platform for current and future workers, Fernandez pointed out.

By putting up its operational procedures and resources, this would prevent older hands from cutting out certain procedures in the name of convenience when teaching newer staff. This would help ensure its service quality and standards are maintained despite workers coming and going and cut down on mistakes made, the CEO explained.

On the whole, he expects the IT revamp to save 30 percent in overall overheads initially and that the investment made will be recouped within three years.

Additionally, this public cloud IT system provides the platform for the company to expand its staff strength which currently stands at 110 employees and, in turn, its business. Fernandez said he is committed to growing the business, and streamlining the operational processes would allow him to get more out of his existing pool of employees while recruiting for new ones.

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