Engine of growth

Retail firm Kamal Osman Jamjoom has sped up its global expansion plans fuelled by recent deployments of advanced network and security solutions.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  February 3, 2008

The IT team is working towards getting the infrastructure and the connections up and ready by mid-March 2008, since the first phase of the Oracle implementation is scheduled to go live in the firm's warehouses by May 2008.

The nature of the beast

The SMART programme has driven the IT team to not only brush up its technical skill sets but also educate itself on the business processes, and vice versa. As part of the programme, an entire Project Management Office (PMO) was set up internally, and every project connected with SMART or otherwise, goes through the office.

"Earlier, people would come up with some projects, we would do the norms necessary and start off with that. Now it is not like that. If someone wants to do a project, we analyse the business value before proceeding.

Also, the PMO enforces the ownership of the project on the business personnel. Now the operations team know that if they have a project, they own it; IT can deliver it and will help them with it, but they own it at the end of the day.

This has reduced our load of unwanted projects and left the team to handle core projects," says Rizvon.

The team has also worked on documentation where all the processes of the organisation, across all of its departments, has been put down. A special team of people picked from the business and committed to the project, supplemented by some IT people, put together the set of documents after intensive discussion and debate.

"During the mapping we slowly started building integration. Teams began to realise that they are not specific identities and that they are all integrated in a whole. As in, if a marketing manager wants to do a campaign he has to have a budget allocated and then eventually the business can cope. Process documentation has become a very strong IP document today for us," points out Rizvon.

It did not stop there. The same team was trained on Oracle. Now, backed by both business and technical knowledge, they re-did the entire process of documentation to create a better set of documents, with which the company could operate with minimal mistakes.

Apart from this, the SMART programme has also brought in its wake best practice considerations and the need to adhere to standards.

We selected ITIL for service maintenance and service delivery. We keep learning from other retailers like us. We talk to people in the business, in the region as well as ones in the UK, to adopt best practices and to put in place efficient practices and systems that can better drive our growth," says Rizvon.

The SMART programme will continue to be rolled out until the last quarter of 2008 and the end of 2009. The changes that it has brought to the fore, will continue to transform the company internally and equip it better to face growing competition for a while longer. Rizvon, however, is already thinking ahead.

"From a strategic point of view, I have already started looking at what is next. Oracle gives the business a central hub of visibility and what we call a single version of the truth, assuring data integrity and accuracy.

We are not driven by Powerpoint presentations, we are driven by numbers. Once we have completed this, the next level is to look at something like a balanced scorecard. Oracle has a module for enterprise performance management and I have started looking at what it could do for the organisation in the future.

IT infrastructure at KOJ

Core switches

CISCO Catalyst 6500 (Active/ Active)

Edge switches

Haven't changed this at this time. Will be procuring CISCO Catalyst 3560 replacing current 3Com 2400 in future phases.

Routers

CISCO 2800 Series Router

Firewalls

CISCO ASA 5500 (Active/ Standby)

Voice systems

CISCO Call Manager 5.0 in Al Quoz Office

Servers

Sun Microsystems

Sun Fire X 4100 M2

Sun Ultra 25

Sun Fire V245

Sun Fire V445

Sun Fire V890

Sun StorageTek SL500

Sun StorageTek 6140 SAN

WAN optimisation

Currently evaluating Riverbed & Peribit

Network operating systems

CISCO IOS

Remote access

CISCO IPSec VPN, SSL VPN, Microsoft PPTP VPN

Network management systems

Netflow Analyzer, Kiwi Syslog, Opmanager

WAN Link Aggregator

F5 Big IP 1500

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