As part of a move to upgrade its IT systems, improve its processes, increase uptime and reduce system failures, Bridge Shipping, a mid-sized freight and logistics organisation, has outsourced its entire IT function to Faritec Holdings.
Peter Winn, executive director of services at Faritec Holdings, says in having to manage growing volumes of business data, many SMEs have often been forced to accept either low-end solutions that are unable to grow with their business, or watered-down versions of enterprise technologies that clearly don’t match their strategic requirements.
“To keep a competitive edge and maintain their growth in the commercial marketplace, many SMEs face significant challenges in meeting the opportunities presented by easy access to pertinent, relevant and important information,” says Winn. “As a result, Faritec decided some years ago to create a dedicated business applications division with a primary focus on the customisation, configuration and implementation of enterprise resource planning solutions for SMEs.”
Lucas Powane, IT manager at Bridge Shipping, says the organisation needs to have its finger on the pulse of large cargo and container movements anywhere in the world at any time, and therefore relies heavily on IT solutions that can support its business management and operations. However, a few years ago it had reached something of an impasse in terms of its IT infrastructure.
“The company was founded in 1980, and was an early adopter of IT as an enabler of its business processes,” says Powane. “But over time our infrastructure – both in terms of servers and the applications running on them – had become significantly outdated. A particular point of pain was our e-mail system. We have some 320 users that rely heavily on IT to deliver the base information that drives our operations, but the system was failing regularly, leading to heavily disrupted and even lost business.”
Powane says Bridge Shipping approached Faritec with the view to outsourcing its entire IT function, because Faritec offered exactly the right balance of long-established hardware leadership and innovation in solutions development. Faritec proposed a solution that called for new server rooms equipped with the latest IBM Blade servers to increase the resiliency of the hardware component, and then to use this as a platform for the roll-out of SAP Business One as Bridge Shipping’s core business and financial management application suite.
“This first stage of the project was essentially a trip back to Faritec’s core roots,” says Winn. “Having won multiple awards as the top IBM Business Partner in South Africa, we were able to mobilise the very best IBM skills available locally to deliver a robust server architecture based on market-leading IBM Blade servers. The result was that downtime within Bridge Shipping’s business instantly became something of the past, as it not only possessed a fast and extremely resilient core hardware infrastructure, but also had high availability and redundancy built-in across its various sites.”
Rather than adopting a ‘big bang’ approach, Faritec chose to roll-out SAP Business One in stages across the business, tackling each of Bridge Shipping’s divisions and sites individually. This also allowed it to handle the training in more manageable pieces, sending its training specialists to each new stage of the project to up-skill groups of approximately 30 Bridge Shipping employees at a time.
Along with a strong focus on Microsoft and Hansen solutions, Win says Faritec is a regional leader with the SAP Business One solution set.
“SAP distributes Business One exclusively through its partner channel worldwide, and Faritec has been appointed as one of the limited number of SAP Business One channel partners for South Africa,” he says.