Calor Gas has begun an extensive €1m IT project to streamline many of its systems around Microsoft software to increase business efficiency as well as allowing the company to introduce new online self-service features for customers.
The LPG importer and distributor had been looking to replace its legacy systems, comprising bespoke software and solutions from several different providers. It chose Microsoft Dynamics NAV to handle its enterprise resource processing (ERP) function to run throughout every division, from finance, sales and marketing through to operations, filling plants and engineers.
“The expectation is that we will have one single SQL database sitting at the core of our network instead of a scatter of different solutions,” explained Sean O’Donohue, ICT manager at Calor Gas. He added that under the old system it had proved difficult to get high levels of integration between the various programs.
Calor’s parent company, the Dutch firm SHV Holdings, had already deployed Microsoft NAV into seven of its business units. “As we looked at our business and the solutions, we thought: ‘Why not get one that can interface with all of the Microsoft products,'” O’Donohue told siliconrepublic.com.
The company has chosen to roll out a full suite of enterprise-wide applications built on the Microsoft .NET platform. It replaced Lotus Notes with Microsoft Outlook and installed Microsoft Operations Manager and SQL Server at enterprise level. SharePoint is providing the portal for information workflow.
It is envisaged the new system will give Calor Gas a single view across all of its business. The first phase of the project involves upgrading the systems in the financial department. It is within budget and on target to be completed at the beginning of August.
After that the system will be rolled out to the sales, marketing and technical divisions by the first quarter of 2007. Next, the distribution and production sections are scheduled to come on stream by the third quarter of next year.
Next year, Calor Gas hopes to use the new ERP system to be able to put in place an e-business facility that will let customers and suppliers check their accounts via the web.
In another element to the project, mobile workers as well as sales and delivery staff will be given handheld devices based on Windows Mobile 5.0. This will allow onboard computing in the gas trucks so that employees can update the central database immediately with the latest customer information. This will be rolled out to several users by September and this part of the project will be completed 12 months from then.
“I would expect Calor to be up there with the best in the country for technical solutions in the next 12 months,” O’Donohue concluded. “That’s the objective and I’m confident we can deliver that.”
By Gordon Smith