What was the issue?
BT was involved in significant IT infrastructure projects such as the installation of networking and cabelling for Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. Ongoing networking support for this projectrequired spare parts to be ordered from Cisco (BT being their largest customer for networking equipment). During this project it was soon discovered that the parts ordering system being used by this department was not benefiting from the same level of discount enjoyed across other departments within BT. Generating a discount code for the order of spare parts was currently a difficult procedure. Storm Consulting were hired to automate the process of generating a discount code when ordering spare parts.
What benefits were delivered?
Storm Consulting automated this process using Web Service Technology. From a technical point of view a code needed to be obtained from another department and entered into a database. The code would then be included in the order to Cisco. The difficulty with this would be the exposure of that database to another department and the dependency upon a remote database. The technical lead at Storm (Russ Lewis) took the opportunity to introduce the concept of web services to the parties involved.
“I ran a short workshop introducing web services and their associated benefits. We worked with the database team to help them expose the discount code as a web service.”
Russ Lewis, Storm Consulting
This team was using Oracle and Java and our team SGL Server and .NET. But web services are standards based and use XML for the interchange of data so it was a simple matter to connect the 2 systems.
Once the service was enabled and the discount code made available, Storm wrote the client code to call the service and automatically inject the discount code into the order. The operator (the sales clerk) no longer had to log into a different system, indeed they had to do nothing at all.
What were the results;
– for the business:
Achieving 5% cost savings for BT when ordering spares from Cisco. Money saved in the first year=???. Automating this system also benefited the support team as they no longer had to log in to a different system when placing orders for spares.
In the past attempts had been made to get a better discount applied to the ordering of parts by asking the spares team to log onto the main BT ordering portal for Cisco (the ‘’Designer Gateway’’ also written by Storm), generate a discount code and copy and paste this code back into the change request parts order. Whilst this was fine in theory, in practice it was far tooinvolved to be actioned without any real incentive. Now the process has been automated using web services technology, it is simpler and more cost effective.
Designer Gateway gives us business advantages that no other telecommunication company has, and is the result of great collaboration between ourselves and Storm. It greatly simplifies the ordering process and enables automated configuration and commissioning.