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ZIIC consolidates IT environments

Zamil Industrial Investment Company is in the final stage of a two-year initiative to consolidate the IT environments of its core businesses.

Zamil Industrial Investment Company (ZIIC) is in the final stage of a two-year initiative to consolidate the IT environments of its core manufacturing sector businesses and create a shared services model through which its steel, glass and air conditioner companies can access the services they require.

“ZIIC is looking to lower overall operating costs in a tough competitive environment and ZIIC’s management wants to make sure that money is being spent where there is a fast and sure return. Therefore, consolidation, centralisation and accountability is the only way to do that,” says Zaki Sabbagh, CIO at ZIIC.

“Also, ZIIC companies have spent considerable money on technology such as its ERP applications and infrastructure. However, IT still needs to do a lot of work to leverage organisational visibility, reduce IT costs and generate business value from the investments we have made. Shared services will help us meet this goal,” he adds.

To facilitate the shift to a shared services model, ZIIC has already consolidated its network and hardware infrastructures. A central data centre has been created, which houses a number of big iron servers from HP. Each business within the group can access the computing power it requires over a fast Ethernet network from Extreme. The Saudi company has also centralised its mail server requirements and is currently migrating to Oracle 11i to achieve standardisation for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) package.

Concurrent to the 11i migration, ZIIC is mapping its business processes to the consolidated IT environment. The company is also putting in place the tools it needs to measure the effectiveness of its consolidated IT environment and is creating service level agreements (SLAs) with each of the manufacturing firms.

Although the IT consolidation has taken some time, Sabbagh says it has been relatively straightforward and the biggest task has actually been on the human resources side. However, the switch to a centralised IT house helped address this and accelerated project buy in from technical staff that had, in the past, been used to serving just one of ZIIC’s standalone manufacturers.

“We have had to change the culture of the company and this was the most difficult part, which is why it took us almost one and a half years to do it. We had to explain to people why were doing this and what it meant to the company,” says Sabbagh.

“However, when we relocated to the new IT building people came to accept the shared services model and no longer focused on just working for the glass company or the steel company. Moving forward, this understanding will be key to ensuring the shared services model continues to grow within ZIIC and continues to deliver results,” he adds.

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