Express response from DHL's UAE contact centre

DHL UAE has implemented a domestic call centre and linked its multiple sites with an IP network to improve customer service provision and office productivity.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  September 2, 2008

This upgradation was felt necessary since the business was growing rapidly and there was a need to integrate operations across sites.

"As our chosen integrator EMW has been involved in upgrading our previous PABX to a VoIP model and getting our sites linked to a single integrated platform. To achieve that, a number of prerequisites needed to be in place. The project needed to allow our business to keep functioning during the migration and as such planning this was crucial. A good IP schema segmented in to VLAN templates is imperative for multiple sites, as is setting up quality of service end-to-end," says Sammut.

"This project centred around our migration from leased lines to MPLS and the ability for our ISP to deliver. Being a cautious company, we wanted to ensure the stability and maturity of the MPLS network at each site before we integrated them. Currently, around two sites are integrated into a central PABX platform. Most of DHL's sites have been moved to an Avaya IP platform and are yet to be converted to LSPs. The idea is to get them centralised as we migrate entirely over to the MPLS platform," states Sammut.

These open channels allow us to work and co-ordinate in a much closer manner across our various locations, and helps us handle things on the fly.

According to him, preparation for and the deployment of the VoIP solution took almost a year as the company wanted to be well equipped for the subsequent move to MPLS.

"Our central PABX runs in mixed mode utilising TDM and VoIP. This is because we have a number of other applications and modules like call recording which integrates with the PABX and the changes would have an impact on our service delivery. We took the cautious approach by keeping a foot in both camps," states Sammut.

He says that the team encountered challenges during the project, predominantly those centring around delivery of ‘out of control items', which had to be received via partners and were out of DHL's immediate sphere of influence.

"The project itself and the tasks within the project when started were a hit. But before you start, you have to get everything just right, make sure that the prerequisites are in place so that the project is successful when it takes off," says Sammut.

Counting time

While DHL's domestic call centre is around nine months old, the IP implementation across the company's offices was completed only around two months back. However, DHL has been busy with a lot more than just that over the last year.

"We have upgraded our scanners to use GPRS and EDGE technology. We have also brought in wireless phones to reduce costs and provide a uniform, effective method of communication within our offices. We found that a majority of our mobile communications were being done from within our facilities, within reach of our infrastructure," says Sammut.

The company stuck with Avaya and brought in a SIP server to provide open communication and viability with other OEM devices. A few of these devices have been rolled out and the entire implementation is expected to be complete soon.

"In the past we had several wireless protocols and networks being utilised. The new design allowed us to tidy up and bring one secure way of communicating, via the IP, for mobile computing, wireless phones or extended LAN services. This has also enabled us to have a very quick turnaround in deploying wireless phones to our staff within our campus. We enjoyed some cost reduction in not having to switch over to mobile phones when needing wireless communication within our building," says Sammut.

The company has also started on a few future projects. Sammut wants to finish the entire MPLS migration by the end of the year and the complete integration of the remaining sites to one central system by March 2009.

"Domestic applications, increased consolidation and core management will be among our key focus areas in the next year. We will also continue to work on the call centre," says Sammut.

Adjusting cash flow

DHL is a truly international player and being in the logistics and supply chain business, the company has a need to integrate and work together across its multiple locations, worldover, in order to achieve its goals. An idea of the co-ordination that the firm does manage to achieve can be glimpsed in the way it plans its IT budgets.

According to Sammut, the IT budgets are done on an annual basis. They are also re-examined and reforecast on a quarterly basis.

"We formally look at budgets four times a year, with the later three being re-forecasts. The budget considers what project activities are being conducted on a regional/area basis and has input from different business domains. Local activities and infrastructure needs are incorporated and rolled up with revenue targets. A number of tools are used as part of the forecasting process. These help to manage the numbers and to ensure appropriate return of investments for our shareholders," says Sammut.

Apart from the quarterly reviews at the highest levels, Sammut maintains that informal, off the cuff discussions happen simultaneously among global team members.

"These open channels allow us to work and co-ordinate in a much closer manner across our various locations, and helps us effectively handle things on the fly," states Sammut.

It is doubtless that DHL has made a success of itself by using internal strengths in the most effective manner possible, and by keeping quality as its guiding force.

The company has used IT as a valuable tool to achieve its business objectives, to support its growth and this is one of the major reasons for its continued and future success.

As Sammut puts it: "Everybody's philosophy is that IT is meant to support the commercial areas of the business and look at what can be put forward and supported efficiently. This remains one of the keys to our effective and sustained growth."

Infrastructure at DHL UAE

Core switches: Cisco 3750 Collapsible Core

Edge switches: Cisco 3750 Stack

Routers: Cisco 2811, 2821, 3640

Firewalls: NetScreen 5GT

Voice systems: Avaya S8720, LSP G350/700

Servers: HP DL380

WAN optimization: Riverbed Steelhead & Packeteers

Network OS: Microsoft XP, Server 2003

WLAN: Cisco 4400 Controller with Aironet 1200 Series AP

Wireless WAN: fSONA 155-M / 155-S

Remote access: Cisco VPN Concentrator

Network management systems: Solarwinds Orion, Netflow

Storage: HP MSA 1500 / EVA 3000

3950 days ago
p. jelinic

The line in the article has me a bit baffled as to why you're referring to "The first is in Malaysia, second in the US and a third in Czechoslovakia". You are aware that there is no longer a country called "Czechoslovakia"? It has been known as the Czech Republic" since January 1, 1993, when Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in what was known as the Velvet Divorce, by analogy with the Velvet Revolution.

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