National retail group, Spar, has implemented HEAT, the service management application from FrontRange Solutions, to help it improve delivery of information technology (IT) services to its more than 800 retail stores nationwide.
Replacing a system for which upgrades and local support were no longer available, HEAT enables Spar’s six regional IT helpdesks to log, manage and report on calls from individual retail stores related to systems as widely diverse as point of sale, cell phone airtime, and back door ordering.
“We’re about half-way through rolling out HEAT to all the regions so we’re just beginning to understand the volumes and types of calls coming in to the helpdesks,” says Spar group operations and technology manager, Keith Dromgool. “But even without all the statistics to hand, we’re already seeing significant operational improvements as a result of capturing call data in HEAT.
“The biggest benefit so far has been the improved ability to manage our third party IT support and maintenance suppliers. Before HEAT, we had no means of knowing what sort of calls they were getting and how effectively those calls were being managed.
“Now our suppliers are required to log all the calls they get direct from our stores on HEAT, which enables us to track the calls. It also helps suppliers track and categorise calls, many of which are not part of their mandate. They can then pass those kinds of calls on to the relevant departments inside Spar, instead of wasting their time and resources on trying to resolve them.
“And, because HEAT gives us all a common reference tool, we’re all in a better position to manage service level agreements fairly.
“In other words, implementing HEAT at Spar has benefited our supplier community as much as it has us.”
Implemented on top of the infrastructure used by the Spar Group to link all retail stores to central and regional replenishment distribution centres, HEAT has scaled easily to Spar’s national operations.
“One of our requirements of a new system was that it would be extendable to all our regions so that all the helpdesks could access any relevant information while still being able to draw region-specific reports,” Dromgool says.
“We also wanted a system that would allow us to reroute calls from the helpdesks to our third party suppliers. We knew we’d have up to 1 500 users on the system once roll-out was complete. So flexibility and scalability were key – and it was clear from the outset that HEAT could easily provide that.”
Other factors influencing Spar’s decision to acquire HEAT included reliability, speed of implementation, good local support, and affordability.
“Obviously, as retailers, price was important to us. What mattered more, though, was the ability to initiate a process of steady performance improvement through the imposition of consistent standards. We were introducing a new way of dealing with service, of providing a single channel through which issues could be recorded and addressed. HEAT has been the ideal vehicle for achieving that.”
FrontRange Solutions (SA) product manager for Africa, Paul Bornhutter, agrees. “While it has not been designed as a performance management or workflow tool, because HEAT is process-driven it inevitably allows for such a high order of consolidation and rationalisation of effort and resources that, in the end, it results in greater efficiency and effectiveness of operations, both inside the organisation and within the supply chain.”