Retailer KOJ refreshes its IT systems

Following a rigorous investigation into the future of its growing business, retailer Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) realised that it needed to revamp its IT systems. ACN reports.

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By  Brid-Aine Conway Published  August 3, 2008

Following a rigorous investigation into the future of its growing business, retailer Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ) realised that it needed to revamp its IT systems. ACN reports.

It's often said in business that if your company isn't growing - it's failing. Standing still can be the same as losing ground if your competitors are growing around you. So while companies invariably look at growth as a good thing for the business as a whole, it can put huge pressure on their existing IT systems.

Using growth as an excuse for a brand new infrastructure can get a company into a variable amount of trouble, but if, like Kamal Osman Jamjoom (KOJ), the company backs that reasoning with an enterprise-wide SWOT analysis that takes in business and IT needs, it may be on to a good thing.

"The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) programme came out as a response to the SWOT we did within the organisation as to how the business was expanding, what the IT systems we had were and how it needed to cope with the growth," says Mohammed Thameem Rizvon, group IT manager at KOJ.

"We realised that some of the systems we had at that time, which were grown internally, had challenges of technology, challenges with integration and with people. These were internally grown solutions so they had their own weaknesses and advantages.

We realised at the time that the best course of action was to identify the solutions that were being utilised by retailers around the world that we could implement for our growth plans," he adds.

The implementation of the SMART programme, KOJ's own name for its long-running IT project, was started in 2006 and Rizvon and his IT team wanted to ensure that the end users would not only be ready for the changes, but enthusiastic about them.

"The SMART name was coined from a contest we ran within the business, because we're doing this project and at the end of it we'll impact close to 2000 plus employees, so we wanted everybody to get involved and know the benefits of why we're doing it.

So we started this whole project with a contest across the entire business where we wanted people to nominate project names. We had close to 500 nominees out of which came SMART," Rizvon explains.

Change management is very important to the project, which will run up to Q3 2009 and includes implementations of Oracle Retail modules, Oracle e-Business Suite and the Oracle Retail point-of-sale (POS) system in the stores.

"We have a project on change management. We had the competition for the SMART name, and we have t-shirts and posters around. Part of this is to get enthusiasm because this is a 21 year old business so along with this come processes that have been there for the last 21 years, some of them good, some of them bad but people have been using them for a long time.

When things change, you need to not just change the screens, but bring in some enthusiasm so people use the application better. And normally when you change like this there are a lot of challenges - like what we faced in June," says Rizvon.

In June, KOJ was going through a period of stabilisation, having come to the end of the first phase of the SMART programme, with phase two due to start in October.

"There are 11 projects under SMART including technology and business projects. The primary objective was to slowly bring in Oracle over the entire spectrum of the business from financials to our stores," he explains.

"We started with a suite of 28 Oracle modules we needed to implement. We divided that into three phases. By the end of the May completion date, we had gone live with every single module of phase one on the planned dates.

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