Warburtons has gone live with a mobile platform that is enabling its BlackBerry-toting managers to approve purchase orders on the move, thereby cutting out a crucial bottleneck in its processes.
The firm, which distributes more than 2 million bakery products a day from its thirteen bakeries and eleven depots, said the tool meant orders were no longer being held up by senior managers being unable to sign off new orders only when in the office.
Its managers were already using BlackBerry smartphones, and two months ago it implemented iQlink’s Sky Technologies Innerware software on the devices, to give them mobile access to the firm's order approval systems, which run on SAP. The implementation took four weeks and required little IT resource, Warburtons said.
The system allows senior managers to review outstanding purchase order details on their BlackBerrys, having been alerted by an automated email sent to their device from Warburtons' core SAP system. No other middleware was required, and a “simple” interface meant training time was minimised, the company said.
The tool allows managers to choose between releasing purchase orders, requesting more information or rejecting them. It then sends an email to the organisation that placed the order confirming the action taken.
Warburtons said the platform was easy to use and would continue working even when no GPRS connection was available. In those instances, it works by synchronises with the firm's SAP system when a connection is re-established.
Bob Beard, purchasing director at Warburtons, said there had been a notable increase in productivity since go-live. “We have received great feedback from our senior managers," he added. "It has removed a bottleneck in the business."
With the success of the tool, Warburtons is now investigating other mobile requirements within the business. Damien Ghee, IT and programme director at Warburtons, said the project "has now got us thinking about where else mobilising SAP could realise quantifiable business benefits. Our management is comfortable with this new technology and understands its potential for improving the productivity of our mobile workforce."