Agency gets trading with e-docs hub

When Farmers told Gillette distributor SellAgence it wanted to trade electronically, SellAgence decided to outsource the necessary document exchange rather than try to do it in-house.

Auckland-based SellAgence markets and sells for Gillette, which withdrew from New Zealand in May 2001.

Gillette, whose brands include Oral B, Braun, Wilkinson and Duracell, had been using an electronic document exchange service based in the US but local access to this ceased when the company pulled out of the country.

At the same time SellAgence had to implement a new financial management system. Gillette stockist Farmers Trading, meanwhile, wanted to deal with documents in an electronic format.

According to SellAgence IT manager Mark Emirali, who shared his experience with more than 200 attendees at a "Software as a Service" seminar in Auckland, the IT department was getting stretched so it decided to look for an application service provider to provide its document exchange capabilities.

Emirali says SellAgence wanted a service provider familiar with the New Zealand trading community and it had to be able to perform multi-file format - XML, EDIFACT and SAP iDOC transport and translation. It also wanted minimum outlay and cost.

It chose Renaissance's e-business spin-off Conduit, which operates a document exchange hub that takes documents in electronic format from one organisation, manipulating them into a form required by another organisation and sending them on. It uses Microsoft BizTalk to provide the transport and translation service.

SellAgence sends simple flat files via FTP to Conduit. These are then converted into the format required by the recipient organisation.

Emirali says Conduit can address the diverse technical requirements of customers and has high availability and reliability. The cost also reflects the transaction activity, and eliminates the requirement of additional hardware and software.

If SellAgence had taken this task on in-house it would have required some sophisticated technology and staff skills. If it ever wants to take it back in-house it will have to licence and install BizTalk, take all the data and files from Conduit and map them across.

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