Fuelling innovation

After several years of growth, Oman’s Al Maha Petroleum Products found itself being hampered by outdated custom software, IT inefficiencies, and a slow invoice billing process.

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Fuelling innovation
By  ACN Staff Writer Published  February 20, 2011

After several years of growth, Oman’s Al Maha Petroleum Products found itself being hampered by outdated custom software, IT inefficiencies, and a slow invoice billing process. When its management team decided to update its IT systems, it turned to Microsoft and integration partner Infosys to help it speed up its business.

Headquartered in Muscat, Oman, Al Maha Petroleum Products Company is a retail trader of refined petroleum products, lubricants, and aviation fuel with 163 filling stations across the country that are managed either by Al Maha, or by its dealers. The distributor also undertakes the wholesale supply of fuel to large companies in Oman.

But its heterogeneous IT landscape and manual processes were creating several challenges. Developed in-house to manage financial operations, filling station accounting, payroll, and asset systems, its decentralised infrastructure was hampering the company in making informed decisions. This was due to inadequate communication and information-sharing processes. In addition, with the current system, Al Maha didn’t have access to accurate financial data, which led to delays and escalating costs.
Several key departments—such as finance, purchasing, sales and marketing, and filling stations—used spreadsheets to maintain data. This time-consuming, manual process was often prone to error.

The company required a centralised, automated solution that could seamlessly integrate all systems and departments, and provide managers with efficient reporting. A robust and flexible system was needed to ensure a unified view of filling station accounting, with profit and loss statements generated for each station. The IT infrastructure would also need to align with best practices in the retail petroleum industry, requiring a high level of customisation.

Al Maha chose Infosys, a leading multinational IT services provider and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, as its preferred partner to deploy an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application.

Infosys recommended Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 business management software as the solution that would best meet the company’s needs. Optimally suited to help the company overcome its challenges, it could provide flexibility and scalability while ensuring a low total cost of ownership.

Most importantly, it promised effective end-to-end coverage — from centralising the company’s filling stations’ data to automating its entire sales system. The solution was implemented at the company’s head office in Muscat, Muscat International Airport, and warehouses in Muscat, Salalah, and Sohar. It catered to all business support functions, including finance, purchasing, sales, and customer relationship management.
Using its expertise in delivering business solutions on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Infosys deployed its proprietary methodology—IntraK—to devise a robust answer for the IT challenges that Al Maha was facing.

Infosys conducted an extensive scoping study to understand the complex requirements. The first phase of the project, which was completed at the end of 2009, helped Al Maha get a clear idea about the solution.

The second phase began in 2010 and included multiple pilot programmes to equip conference rooms. The implementation—which was successfully completed in the third quarter of 2010—replaced all previous systems. It integrated and centralised data from all filling stations, providing a scalable, easy-to-use solution.

Infosys developed custom-built modules for the filling station accounting and sales processes. To ensure business continuity, the team employed efficient cut-over mechanisms for migration of transactional data from previous applications. Finally, training sessions were held for key users who subsequently trained other users, ensuring smooth knowledge transfer.

Infosys streamlined existing processes and introduced best practices, which has led to an increase in efficiency at Al Maha. Microsoft Dynamics NAV helped Al Maha integrate its card systems with the new technology and to program the sales process to post, print, and mail invoices to customers automatically. The solution has given Al Maha the ability to analyse filling station data on the fly, supporting managers to make important decisions in a timely way.

With more than 200 named users and 50 concurrent users at any given time, the solution touches all aspects of operations across the company. The Infosys-deployed business management solution helped Al Maha simplify its complex financial and business processes by centralising and automating its IT landscape. Designed to support future business growth, the scalable and robust solution has increased productivity and efficiency, while improving collaboration and ensuring quick, efficient decision-making.

The streamlined and automated processes across finance, supply chain, and customer relationship management have helped improve business visibility. A single platform for interaction with all stakeholders has enhanced communication. While integration with other Microsoft products—such as Microsoft Office Outlook, Microsoft Office 2003, and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services — has helped ensure ease of use.

Abdul Karim, senior IT manager, Al Maha Petroleum Products Company, says: “Selecting a capable partner and the right product are the main factors in ensuring a successful ERP implementation. I’m pleased to say we’ve made the right decision with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009.”

With the new process in place, manual effort has been reduced by between 25 and 30 per cent, which also led to a decrease in the number of manual errors. Process automation has helped increase productivity by 30 per cent. And accurate costing provides a clear picture of the profit margin, supporting better decision-making.

According to Hiriyanna Narayanaswamy, finance manager at Al Maha Petroleum Products Company: “The Infosys Microsoft Dynamics NAV – based solution has improved financial, operational, and managerial processes. We’re confident that this scalable, robust system will drive success at Al Maha.”

Significant automation of business processes has resulted in Al Maha reducing its staffing by one person. Al Maha now has access to accurate data because the system automatically calculates financial data, and helps the company bill transporters on time, thereby increasing revenue.

Sales invoicing has been simplified because customers can be engaged with multiple processes and different billing types dealt with in diverse currencies. The automated sales invoicing process has increased productivity and reduced the need for manual intervention.

The time it takes Al Maha to prepare and submit credit notes to its dealers has been cut from five days to 20 minutes. The mobile integration for workflow approval has also speeded up the authorisation process — this has ensured that Al Maha has all the necessary controls in place, boosting productivity, while at the same time, saving staff hours.

“A contact centre module to handle customer enquiries, complaints, and service requests more effectively has helped Al Maha provide better customer service,” says Karim. “In addition, the sales quota developed in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 gives Al Maha a clear overview of sales.”

More effective monitoring of operations, such as filling station accounting and sales analysis, has provided Al Maha with an efficient decision-making mechanism. The sales price margin analysis developed for Al Maha helps it analyse sales statistics and provides rapid results clearly linked to the customer. As a result, real-time management reporting at group level has enhanced decision-making, leading to improved planning.

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