Automation at Emaar

Property developer Emaar has automated its business processes with Oracle’s e-business suite to better service its rapidly growing customer base.

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By  Sarah Gain Published  May 26, 2005

In a bid to streamline day-to-day operations, strengthen financial reporting and improve customer service, property developer Emaar Properties, has deployed Oracle’s e-business suite to streamline its back-to-front-office business processes. Sahm Technologies, the IT subsidiary of Emaar, managed the implementation over nine months. Prior to the deployment, Emaar was using various disparate solutions to manage its different businesses processes. The legacy system was unable to provide the necessary level of integration between departments as the business grew. The old technology was deployed with no consideration for future scalability; hence was unable to cope as business practices matured. However, the new solution has linked Emaar’s financial systems, property management and customer relationship management (CRM) functions, enabling the company to deliver enhanced customer service. “Considering our diverse areas of operation, future expansion plans and our exponential rate of growth, it was imperative for Emaar to deploy a robust IT infrastructure and enterprise business applications framework to get a complete view of our finances and customer service performance,” says A. J. Jaganathan, CEO of Emaar Properties. After evaluating several enterprise resource planning (ERP) software packages, Emaar selected the Oracle suite for its customer aligning qualities and the capacity to consolidate financial information, property and asset management onto a single system. Furthermore, since the solution is accessible online, Emaar executives felt the operational costs would be low and empower them with a high degree of business intelligence. The project was managed in a phased manner, beginning with a detailed requirement assessment. A migration and cleansing of the company’s data was managed using automated systems. Since the financials and property management aspects of the solution were relatively stable, the project management team concentrated on the customer touch-point aspects to provide a 360-degree view of customer details and transaction and interaction records. “Even after the basic implementation itself, once all the segments are deployed, it is important to keep fine tuning the system. Once the solution went live, we were able to learn a lot more about its functionality and the best practices. We are still adapting and evolving the system. It is an ongoing process of correction and improvement,” says Bhatnagar. Oracle offered Emaar pre and post sales support, helping to assess the company’s specific business requirements and tailoring the solution accordingly. “It is a very sophisticated system, however we anticipated the difficulties that it might entail and formulated strategies to deal with them. There were very few surprises along the way,” he adds. Now the deployment is complete, Emaar has a complete and integrated set of enterprise applications that work together seamlessly to streamline every area of the business, from sales, service and marketing, through to financials and human resources, supply chain and manufacturing. The property developer is witnessing reduced operating expenses as a result of automating lease execution, and the company’s contractual and financial risk has been minimised through the management of development milestones online, the identification of cost savings and new revenue opportunities with space administration capabilities, and the ability to access critical property information online or via a mobile device. Emaar has also automated its lease executions on exclusive housing properties such as The Lakes, while integrating its forecasting and financial analysis with up-to-the-minute development and sales information on freehold properties such as Emirates Hills, The Meadows, The Springs, The Greens, Dubai Marina and Arabian Ranches. “Emaar’s entire core business is entirely dependent on the e-business suite. It is the backbone of our operation and an integral part of everything we do now,” Bhatnagar explains. The real estate sector in Dubai represents one of the most dynamic elements of the regional economy and since the deployment of the solution; Emaar has been able to further distinguish itself as an industry leader by providing better customer service. “The strength of the Oracle solution is that it gets all this service-critical data to the employees immediately, enabling call centre staff to have access to all information necessary to best answer customer queries. This allows us to provide optimum customer service, which is Emaar’s priority. We want to give the customer value,” explains Jaganathan. The property developer continues to update its client records, adding new data on an ongoing basis to ensure accuracy. The company is also using the e-business suite’s integrated database to store all the data generated by the system. In addition, a document management system has been implemented to provide amalgamation between Emaar’s essential hardcopy documents, such as contracts, and the solution itself, providing a ‘one-stop information library’ for employees. The new solution environment is looked after by Sahm's managed IT services division, which was originally established to help Emaar focus on its core business by outsourcing the IT infrastructure administration. Having gained enough experience managing the implementation and providing IT outsourcing services to a client with such stringent demands as Emaar, Sahm now intends to offer similar services to the broader market. Although the primary objective of the overhaul was to ensure quality service to Emaar customers, the move has also secured repeat business, which is a crucial part of Emaar’s operations, as many customers own multiple properties. According to Jaganathan, there was a strong need for providing improved service to these clients: “Previously, if a single customer had four properties, they would all be listed as individual, unconnected entities. Now we have a file for each customer, and all their separate properties have been linked.” Most importantly, the Oracle implementation has also enabled Emaar to completely realign the channels through which the company delivers its service. The telephone, online and in-person interactive forums have all been improved and as a result, prospective customers receive a more positive impression of the organisation from the first encounter. “First impressions are vital. Potential customers are just as important to the future of the company, if not more so, than existing ones. With the new system, we are able to present ourselves as an efficient company and gain a new client’s trust. As a result, we are more likely to build a more successful, long-term relationship with that customer,” Jaganathan continues. As businesses across the Middle East realise the importance of customer care as a differentiating factor amongst competitors, linking all levels of customer data and streamlining practices means that Emaar has seen a rapid ROI, “To be able to access all this information and analysis in real time will help us become a more customer-focused and informed organisation, enabling a superior level of customer service and more informed decision-making capabilities,” Jaganathan adds. Since the UAE’s real estate market shows no signs of losing pace, Jaganathan believes that by leveraging the scalability of the product and by continuing to strive to provide superior customer service, Emaar will be able to maintain its competitive edge. “IT is not a finite solution in itself. It must be continuously developed. You can have the best system in the world, but if the management and foresight is not there then you cannot get the maximum use out of the system and, therefore, you will not get the maximum ROI,” he enthuses.

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