June 3, 2011 - In the early 1900’s, just a few years after the invention of the automobile, auto manufacturers were producing cars by the hundreds, and soon after by the thousands. The company founders could never have imagined a world where one day, orders could be processed and payments made in seconds -- without signatures, or a handshake, or money being physically handed over -- but rather with just a few ‘clicks’ of a ‘button’….all thanks to a modern medium called ‘cyberspace’!
The internet is now the busiest showroom and boardroom on the planet with billions of business deals and instant automated money transfers taking place daily between companies and consumers across town, and across continents.
In 2007, the financial services division of one of the world’s most successful automotive companies was undergoing a primary restructuring after selling off a large business unit. This particular financial services division is one of the leading captive financial service providers in the world, providing financing and insurance to the automotive and commercial vehicle dealers and retail customers for the parent company. Headquartered in Berlin, with its U.S. headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan, the company operates in 40 countries worldwide and has a global portfolio of $75 billion. North America represents the company’s largest market. The parent company makes, sells and leases some of the finest vehicles in the world which include cars, vans, buses and trucks.
Due to the company’s restructuring, changes needed to be made to the financial service division’s overall business operations, which included its web-enabled financial transaction processes. The company’s electronic data interchange (EDI) platform, which handled web-enabled transactions, was to be replaced with a more secure and robust solution. But first, the company needed to address its IT infrastructure.
In 2008, Synergy Computer Solutions, Inc., a professional services company and trusted partner, was contracted to provide systems specialists to work on an infrastructure re-design, followed by installations and upgrades of servers and thousands of desktops, at multiple locations.
Once the infrastructure was ready, the EDI work began. The Synergy team integrated EDI functions with the company’s SAP enterprise application to enable automated logistics functions and online financial transactions. This project work affected not only the company itself, but over 150 of the company’s suppliers as well, which were required to comply with and become trained in the new system.
The EDI coordination team successfully accomplished the following milestones:
1. Followed up with all company suppliers to ensure receipt of the EDI Notification Change Letter requiring compliance and conversion.
2. Developed EDI functionality and integrated it with company’s SAP enterprise application
3. Transitioned all suppliers from current format to either one of 2 new formats: EDIFACT or Web EDI
4. Provided technical support to all suppliers
5. Coordinated all communications between suppliers
6. Tested EDIFACT & Web EDI interfaces
7. Tracked and reported EDI on-boarding processes to the company’s project management office.
8. Developed EDI related documents
9. Developed EDIFACT and Web EDI Training Materials for End-users/Suppliers
10. Managed Security Concerns
11. Delivered training to End-users/Suppliers.
An extremely challenging timeline had been put before the Synergy team who pulled together, accomplished all project goals, and delivered the solution ahead of schedule, and within budget. The new EDI system was officially launched in under a year!
In January 2009, all Production Releases and Advanced Ship Notices (ASN) were flowing thru the company’s SAP enterprise system throughout North and South America, without any major issues. Expert training provided by Synergy consultants ensured that suppliers were comfortable with the new processes. Currently all suppliers are on-board with the system and are receiving their newly formatted releases, as well as transmitting the corresponding ASNs into the system.
Due to the success of the project, two of the three consultants were contracted by the company to stay on-board and provide on-going post-production support. On-going support responsibilities include: new supplier on-boarding, EDI production release/ASN 1st level support, EDI documentation maintenance, and logistics and purchasing system support.