Power, money and big trucks

Each year the Computerworld Excellence Awards see strong competition for the coveted best overall use of IT award. This year is no exception, with entries drawn from diverse fields: a transport company, an accountancy firm and a power and telecommunications lines company.

Each year the Computerworld Excellence Awards see strong competition for the coveted best overall use of IT award. This year is no exception, with entries drawn from diverse fields: a transport company, an accountancy firm and a power and telecommunications lines company.

Toll Tranz Link has been selected as a finalist for its Enterprise Visibility System (EVS). EVS is the “heart” of Tranz Link’s three-year “Stone Age to Star Wars” IT strategy, kicked off in 2001 to revitalise the company’s business.

EVS was developed in 2003 with iVistra. Tranz Link calls the system a digital dashboard, which tracks assets and uses business data to present real-time performance indicators. EVS allows Tranz Link to watch its business in operation and see whether business targets are being met.

EVS displays the location of assets in real time, financial performance data, resource allocation and management, asset utilisation, performance data, available capacity, operational activity, customer bookings and sales details, transactional data, historical records and reporting, problem tracking, and overall operational efficiency by site, asset and region. Planned improvements include accessing historical data and extending EVS to mobile devices.

Tranz Link says EVS has improved communications within the company, improved asset utilisation, allowed the disposal of unneeded assets, and is expected to have a “strong positive impact” on Tranz Link’s financial performance.

Strategem is recognised for its inhouse accountancy workflow package. Accountants traditionally have been deluged with work as tax due dates roll around and have struggled to let customers know when their work will be completed.

Strategem settled on a workflow scheduling system, including planning for staff commitments such as training and internal meetings; job budgeting based on the hours recorded the previous year; assigning jobs to a specific employee; and prioritising customers.

The program allows Strategem to let clients know exactly when the firm will need financial records, and guarantee to deliver annual accounts and tax returns within four weeks. Strategem has fewer jobs underway at any one time, reducing “pick up and put down” time and allowing staff to complete accounts sooner. Staff members have greater control over their own workflow, and reduces stress by making plain what is expected of staff and when.

Over four years, Strategem hasn’t had to make a single payout on its four-week turnaround guarantee, the company says. Client uncertainty and frustration has been reduced and Strategem’s directors report that they no longer receive regular calls from customers complaining about slow delivery.

Since the workflow app was deployed Strategem has improved its profitability and the company has begun offering its workflow app to other firms last year.

Electricity, gas and telecommunications network provider Vector is a finalist for its smart data capture system. Vector has 700,000 customers and 30,000 km of network. With over 11,000 power outages each year on the Auckland network alone, Vector needs an efficient and reliable system for recording and distributing data captured by field crews.

Vector issued its mobile staff with Compaq PocketPC devices that communicate with head office over Vodafone’s GPRS network. The company says its field crews now have more comprehensive and timely information about the jobs they are allocated, and can keep customers notified about progress and expected completion of jobs. Vector has an accurate, up-to-the-minute picture of its network based upon GIS information and data from field crews.

Because information is only captured at the source, there is less duplication of data and improved accuracy. The system has cut paperwork by as much as 70%, freeing up field crews, supervisors and administrators. Vector says the time savings alone will provide a return on investment over about 18 months.

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