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Canada's largest courier company, Purolator, picks up and delivers approximately 1.1 million packages a day.
Accenture helped Purolator develop information systems that would enable the courier to provide customers with better service, improve its analytical abilities and build strategies for high performance.
In 2005, Purolator introduced a five-year multifaceted investment strategy. The goal was to increase Purolator's level of service to customers, helping these business customers to become more competitive. Specifically, Purolator wanted to introduce innovative new products, more flexible pricing and more service options.
Purolator also hoped to make its products more adaptable to customers' needs, enabling the courier to build market share and to drive profitable growth while reducing its costs. Purolator sought to monitor its progress in all these areas by tracking specific metrics.
Purolator's management realized that the company's information systems were standing in the way of their goals. For example, the service directory, a database that holds all service, product, pricing and shipping information, was based on geographic regions, rather than towns or cities.
Thus, it couldn't accurately reflect that it was more expensive to ship between small towns than between large metropolitan areas within the same region. As a result, prices didn't always reflect the true cost of service to Purolator or the true value to the customer.
Purolator chose Accenture to help the courier to improve customer experience and foster innovation. Accenture provided overall program and project management and worked with Purolator to define new business processes, select and implement the right technology and introduce the new technology and processes to employees and customers.
The project team included Accenture's courier industry specialists, technical specialists and managers with extensive experience in overseeing large transformational projects. Avanade, an Accenture subsidiary founded with Microsoft, applied its expertise at Microsoft solutions to help build an online shipping system.
In addition, Purolator dedicated a number of its top business executives to the project team full time. This helped to connect the work to the company’s long-term vision, keeping the needs of Purolator's internal business users and its customers front and center.
The Customer Experience Delivery project focused on designing and implementing ways to offer products and services targeted to specific customer segments, on developing better shipping methods and on improving the billing process.
A new service directory allowed Purolator to accurately represent its products and pricing for millions of home and business addresses across Canada and around the world. Accenture worked with Purolator and other partners to create new shipping systems built on SAP's enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and using service-oriented architecture (SOA). This SOA technology allowed customers to connect their software and their supply chains to Purolator's systems.
The new ERP system would produce a wealth of data, and Purolator decided to develop business intelligence systems to mine that data for actionable insights. The company had already collected masses of information on shipping and it was implementing a new bar code scanning system that would collect even more data. In fact, the amount of data Purolator gathered was more typical of a $30 billion company than a $1.5 billion company.
Many of the reports from the old data warehouse only contained aggregated data. To get granular details could require days to run an ad-hoc query. While Purolator sought to track key metrics like revenue, profit and performance in strictly defined ways, it also needed to be able to do a deep dive into the forces driving those numbers. And it needed this kind of information in near-real time.
Purolator's back-end systems were based on SAP, so SAP's Business Intelligence module was the logical choice. But the module didn't have the processing power needed to crunch such huge amounts of data quickly. The team solved the problem by integrating specialized Hewlett-Packard accelerator hardware with the SAP software, creating the first Business Intelligence Accelerator implementation in Canada.
The Business Intelligence project provided the data processing power and analytical capabilities required to derive insights into customer profitability and behavioral shipping patterns. These capabilities enabled Purolator to more effectively use the new pricing and product options made possible by the Customer Experience Delivery project. Information gathered within the business warehouse also provided the detailed shipping and operational information necessary to assess the effectiveness of its courier operations.
The Customer Experience Delivery and Business Intelligence projects were finished in a timely manner and on budget. Customer acceptance has been strong and Purolator is already seeing positive results.
The new pricing system gives customers more options in shipping and allows Purolator to price more competitively. Also, the availability of an expanded product lineup has resulted in more choice for customers.
Contracts, invoices and pricing structures are streamlined and easier to understand. Customers can place orders with a faster and more reliable system, and then see more accurate and detailed information about their shipments.
The new system has achieved a dramatic reduction in the number of reports generated within the organization while enhancing its analytical capability. The data is also easier to use. Business users can "slice and dice" the data however they want, performing complex analytics in minutes.
As the new system rolled out to its customer base, Purolator tracked its impact through migration dashboards designed with Accenture. The dashboard for senior management delivers high-level performance metrics for strategic decisions. Another dashboard lets the migration management team see in detail how customers are reacting to its new products, as well as to pricing and service changes.
Accenture is proud of this collaboration, which has helped Purolator to deliver service excellence and continue to achieve high performance. In the words of Accenture’s project lead, Claire Thompson, "We've been able to combine our understanding of industry dynamics and business processes with a thriving, forward-thinking organization and fundamentally change how our client goes to market."
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