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Sun 1 Apr 2007 03:56 PM

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Chain mail

Jordan's largest telecommunications company wanted to reduce its purchase processing time and streamline its customer orders. Snowed under by a multitude of faxes, e-mails and customer calls it turned to Oracle to cut out the middleman.

Fastlink, required a system that would enable it to deal with customer enquiries quickly and directly to meet customer demand and stem the ever-rising administrative flow. Under the existing set up, indexing and processing customer orders was a lengthy process that was typically directed through its struggling call agents.

The company implemented a hat-trick of Oracle systems to deal with the purchase and order cycle and streamline what was an increasingly frustrating process. With access to purchase details and order tracking unavailable, the company's service line was inevitably inundated with fundamental customer enquiries that could be solved with an online access to the relevant details.

"We launched the iProcurement, iSupplier and iStore in the second half of 2006. We had issues with pricing for purchases. If a user wanted to know for example whether their purchase had been completed and converted into an order, or if payment had gone through and they'd been invoiced, all these enquiries had to be answered over the phone which was creating an administration load for us," Ehab Hafez, enterprise applications senior manager at Fastlink, explains.

The company decided to utilise the solutions in its back end operations, utilising the iProcurement system to improve communication between the company and its suppliers.

"After we implemented the iProcurement the users can view all the necessary information like their order approval status, purchase requisition and any relevant invoices. This is applicable for both the internal and external requisitions, for example, if we need to move any materials between warehouses, you can track the status of the order from start to finish," says Hafez.

Although the company implemented three systems simultaneously, Hafez affirms that the project was completed in with the company's expectations. Having conducted a road test with a selected supplier, all three systems were implemented and running within five months.

"It took us around three months to implement the iSupplier and it was deployed with one of our major suppliers so we could test it. After this we officially launched it and now it's deployed with more than 70 suppliers. For the I-store it took us around four months because we did a lot of customisation, and for the iProcurement it took us about two months. They were implemented simultaneously and running parallel within five months. Now everything is all done online and there is no need to call up and ask anybody," Hafez says.

Fastlink was confident integration would not be an issue - all three systems are Oracle-based - but the company faced respective challenges convincing customers e-payment was secure as well as educating its vendors.

"The implementation went smoothly and the whole project went as planned but there were some issues. There were some customers that weren't very computer literate, so we had to educate those users before we could use the system effectively. That was one of the challenges. A different challenge was that electronic transactions aren't very popular in Jordan so we had to encourage the users to use the system and prove it was a safe, accepted way of transacting," he says.


The I-store was launched in the second half of 2006 and had a significant impact on the company's purchase processes. Utilising its new electronic platform, the volume of email, telephone and fax correspondence was comprehensively reduced, purchase details could be viewed by all parties and transactions were instantaneous.

"The iStore enabled us to reduce the timescale in our ordering cycle process by 60%-70%. Before we used this system, dealers would send their orders by fax, which would then be collected and reviewed and compared to the orders. From here confirmation would then have to be communicated by email or telephone and our dealership team would review the credit terms. If there were any issues with those, we would then have to communicate this back to the dealers and it became a long tedious cycle," he says.

Hafez is keen to underline the impact the solutions have had on the company's processes and cites the improved immediacy in contact between the customer, company and suppliers and that Fastlink's decision to consolidate the various channels information through a common portal has been a driving factor behind the success of the implementation.

"The solutions have had a major impact on our processes. Implementing them was very important to the company because it reduced our administrative workload and allowed us to focus on more strategic functions. The procure-to-pay cycle is now instantaneous - once you've issued a requisition, you can view the status of the approval and expedite the approval process. Once the order has been approved it immediately goes to the vendor and this contributed significantly to cycle time reduction. It has improved our efficiency considerably, " he says.

Fastlink intends to do a comprehensive assessment of the project with Oracle before the end of 2007 and has planned a series of new projects with the aim of creating and conducting its own system implementations, to improve its efficiency even further.

"We are planning to conduct a ROI study with Oracle but currently it is qualitative in the respect it has reduced administrative tasks and the process cycle times. We intend on carrying out a full study by the end of 2007," says Hafez.

"The procurement has diversified our distribution and currently we are in the process of implementing an enterprise planning and budgeting solution. We're going to have an automated budgeting process within the company that decides all the key performance indicators (KPI), business intelligence reports generated on time.

"We intend to implement asset management and planning which will allow us to track our assets and give us a 360-degree overview of the asset lifecycle and we are also planning to implement an Oracle project which will enable us to create and complete projects ourselves," he concludes.

Project details

Who?

Fastlink, Amman.

What?

Implemented Oracle’s iSupplier, iProcurement and iStore solutions.

When?

iProcurement June 2006, iStore July 2006, iSupplier December 2006.

Why?

The telecommunications company wanted to reduce its purchase processing time and streamline its customer orders through a common, accessible electronic portal. This enabled Fastlink, its suppliers and customers to view purchases, transaction details and track orders.

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