Established in 1930, the AA is the champion of the South African motorist and traveller. It provides a range of services including emergency roadside support via a fleet of around 100 patrol vans and 50 tow trucks, a Metrocab service, maps and travel advisories, driver education and around 20 "Travel Experience" retail stores.
During 2005 and 2006 the AA made a number of changes to its businesses. It opened a new range of "Travel Experience" retail stores in partnership with the South African Travel Centre, introduced a new Metrocab service in Gauteng and began selling a small range of essential spares such as spark plugs from its roadside assistance vans. These services were backed up by three warehouses distributed around the country.
These new areas of business created a need for tight central control over inventory and turnover, as well as mobile transaction capability.
The AA's fleet of patrol vans, for example, is dispersed throughout South Africa – and even though they sell only low-cost items, their turnover is high and it is essential for central managers to keep a close eye on transaction numbers.
Martin Heydenrych, the AA's divisional manager for IT, says the company considered a number of potential vendors before presenting a shortlist of three to a range of stakeholders.
These included not just AA staff, but also independent franchisees at the Travel Experience stores: “There were a lot of different people to convince and the decision process could have been a nightmare, but HansaWorld came through very well and all our users bought into it pretty much from day one.”
Heydenrych says the AA chose HansaWorld for its effective financial controls, its CRM capability and the range of mobile transactions and services it offers. The company was also impressed by HansaWorld's large installed base of over 69,000 sites around the world and the fact that it is successfully providing mobile enterprise solutions in cooperation with Nokia.
“We looked at seven different systems and we still haven't found another one that can offer the same CRM and mobile services. While HansaWorld's costs are on a par with other systems, it offers far more functionality.”
HansaWorld can integrate well with QuickTrav, the travel industry standard package used at the Travel Experience retail outlets. “There was no possibility of us displacing QuickTrav,” says Heydenrych, “but HansaWorld has given us the ability to interact with it at general ledger level.”
The AA did not need to make any additional hardware investment beyond getting new mobile devices for its patrol vehicles.
“HansaWorld fits in perfectly with our existing server and network infrastructure.”
The AA expects its biggest immediate benefit from implementing HansaWorld to be “more effective control of what we are doing in the customer-facing outlets.” It also looks forward to better customer data validity thanks to the CRM tool, which will also provide new opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling.
Heydenrych notes that implementing HansaWorld in the Travel Experience stores will improve the customer experience.
Heydenrych also says that, although the roll out has not been without its challenges, the HansaWorld team have worked hard to make it as simple as possible, facilitating a number of workshops and training sessions.