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How Zambeef increased efficiencies and sales through the Point of Sale application and IT

infrastructure integration.

Introduction.
This project case study is based on my own experience as Team Lead for a sales application
replacement and IT infrastructure upgrade project at Zambeef Products Plc in the year 2018.
Zambeef is a Zambian based food production company formed in 1994. It has grown into a
big food production company in Africa with branches in Ghana and Nigeria trading as Master
Meats. Zambeef is listed both on the Lusaka Stock Exchange and the London Stock
Exchange.

Challenges in stock taking and sales recording using Scale Manager.


Previously, Zambeef was using a legacy sales application called Scale Manager. Scale
Manager was cheap to acquire at the time and also very easy to install in shops as it did not
require any sophisticated equipment. It used GSM messages to send sales information to
Head Office which was so cheap for the company. All shops across the country had Scale
Manager installed and shop managers were very conversant with it.

Despite all these benefits provided by Scale Manager, the sales department had difficulties in
tracking sales and stock. Scale Manager did not have a way of ordering items through the
system. Whenever, the shop managers at the outlets needed more stock, they would write
manually and email the order document to the production plant. This process was easy at the
beginning when shops were few. However, as the number of shops increased, it became
difficult for the production plant to track emails and produce items as required in shops. This
created a situation where some shops had excess stock of goods to sell while others had
nothing. It was difficult to account for goods delivered as invoices would not tally with the
order document sent by the shop manager. It became easy for shop managers to steal goods
for shops as there was poor accountability. This caused the production plant to increase
production a situation that made the company run at a loss.

Furthermore, Scale Manager used to send end of day sales through text messages. However,
when there was no mobile network from the Internet Service Provider on a particular day at a
shop, Scale Manager would not send the end of day sales. That meant missing all the sales for
that day.
Project Initiation.
To resolve the challenges associated with inconsistent sales data from shops, the sales team
called for a meeting with various stakeholders including IT. The aim of the meeting was to
find ways that could be used to ensure that orders made by shop managers are always in sync
with the invoices sent on trucks with goods. In addition to that, they required that sales should
not miss from shops regardless of the network condition at the time of sending the sales data
to Head Office.

Requirement analysis and specification


To meet the needs of the sales department, the IT team was tasked to analyse the operation
process of Scale Manager and find the best option to take. My role in the whole process was
critical as I was a Team Lead for the IT department which automatically made me to be the
project manager for the project.

Feasibility Studies
A team of four IT personnel was organised to conduct the feasibility studies. To achieve the
best results, the IT team targeted shop managers at the outlets, sales managers at Head Office
and the CEO as he was the key stakeholder in this problem.

The IT team started gathering information at Head Office. We started with the Sales
Managers at Head Office. We interviewed them on the challenges they faced in collecting
and analysing sales from shops across the country. The following were there responses:-

a) Inconsistent sales data coming from shops.


b) Lack of real time sales data capture and analysis making them a day behind always.
c) If there is no network in one region, no sales data would be received for that period.
d) So much work and pressure in reconciling purchase orders and sales.

After interviewing the Sales Managers, we approached the CEO and interviewed him
concerning the challenges he had seen in the current sales system. He was so open and to the
point. He stated that he wanted to know exactly the profit the company was making on a
weekly basis. He also wanted us to make sure that all loopholes in the system that allowed
shop managers to steal be closed. He further wanted to know how each product faired in a
particular region so that product segmentation and targeting would be easy.

Finally, the IT team travelled across the country in all outlets and gathered information on the
operational processes current happening under scale manager. They went round observing the
way they worked and conducted interviews to shop managers and sales personnel on the
challenges they faced. The following were the key issues raised during the feasibility study
from shops:

a) The shop managers complained of poor sales information posting which forced them
to use cell phones to send their actual sales information to the sales team at Head
Office.
b) Receiving of products meant for another shop was also a major problem.
c) They also complained of delay in stock delivery from the production plant.
d) Too much paper work.

Need for a better Point of Sale application than Scale Manager


After all key stakeholders in the operations of the current sales system were interviewed, the
IT team called for a meeting. The aim of this meeting was to ensure that all influential
stakeholders are involved in deciding the way forward for the sales team. The key
stakeholders in this meeting were the CEO, Regional Managers, Area Managers, Sales
Managers, Systems Analysts and Programmers, Database Engineers, Network Engineers and
Shop Managers.

After discussing all the findings of the feasibility studies in this meeting, it was concluded
that the current sales operations under Scale Manager were inefficient and caused the
company to run at a loss. It was then agreed to either reengineer Scale Manager and meet the
challenges noticed during the feasibility studies or purchase a new Point of Sale application
and replace Scale Manager. The Systems Analysts and Programmers suggested that it was
quicker and cost effective to purchase an off-the-shelf point of sale application considering
the time and scope of the project.

After the meeting, the IT team was tasked to analyse a number of Point of Sale applications
on the market and come up with one that would replace Scale Manager.

The Alien Point of Sale Application picked


After assessing a number of Point of Sale Applications, the IT team settled on the Alien Point
of Sale. The Alien Point of Sale application was widely deployed in filling stations in South
Africa and Angola, and provided the best stock movement and online sales tracking modules.
It also had a good database replication process from outlets to the main server at Head Office
which would prevent the loss of any sale. In addition to that, Alien uses the TCP/IP network
infrastructure which provides a reliable exchange of data.

Despite settling on Alien, it came along with its own requirements which caused a huge
expenditure on the IT infrastructure. As it sends data through TCP/IP on a routed network, it
meant that the IT team had to design a network infrastructure connecting all the outlets across
the country to the Head Office. It also required new computers, switches and routers for all
shops. This was a huge cost to the company. However, funding was not a problem because
we involved the CEO from inception of the project.

Project planning.
As the project manager, I had a huge task to put things in order. We started by creating the
project scope and the work breakdown structure.

Project Scope
The project scope defines and documents a list of project deliverables, costs, deadlines, tasks
and specific project goals. The project scope documentation called scope statement, terms of
reference or statement of work are critical documents that explain the project boundaries,
gives each team member responsibilities and shows standards and procedures on how to
verify and approve completed work of the project. The scope statement also provides
guidelines to project team members on how decisions about change requests are made during
the project.

1) Specific Project goals


a) To ensure that by December 2018 all shops should have been migrated to Alien.
b) Make sure that all sales and shop managers are trained on how to use Alien.
c) Sales data should be transmitted to Head Office in real time in 2019.
2) Project Deadlines
The rollout of Alien in shops should begin in March 2018 and completed in
December, 2018.
3) Project deliverables
a) Design a Wide Area Network linking all shops to Head Office.
b) Mount network cabinets in all shops.
c) Install routers and switches in all shops
d) Buy new computers with 4 GB RAM and 500 GB HDD for all shops.
e) Install an Alien Server at Head Office and ensure that it can be pinged from all
shops.
f) Install Alien on client computers for all outlets.
g) Train shop managers, sales managers and regional managers on how Alien works.
h) Deliver computers installed with Alien in all outlets.
4) Project costs
a) Purchase of IT Equipment
- Purchase 205 computers for all shops costing about $700 US Dollars each.
- Purchase two high end servers costing $6,000 dollars each.
- Purchase routers costing $3, 000 dollars each.
- Purchase 8 port switches costing $80 dollars each.
- Purchase network cables and connectors for $1, 000 dollars
b) Training of shop managers, sales managers and regional managers
- Transport and accommodation for 205 shop managers costing $150 dollars
each.
- Accommodation for 30 area managers costing $100 dollars each.
- Accommodation for 5 regional managers costing $300 dollars each.
- No costs incurred for sales managers as they all stay within Lusaka.
c) Transport expenses for installing cabinets, routers and computer delivery in shops
- Transport and accommodation costs for IT technicians and Network Engineer
delivering computers and installing network equipment costing $40 dollars per
night.
5) Tasks to project team members
a) The Systems Analysts were responsible for training the shop, sales and regional
managers.
b) The Network Infrastructure team was responsible for installing cabinets, routers
and switches in all outlets.
c) The IT support team were responsible of monitoring the connection to shops.
d) The database administrators were responsible of integrating Alien data into SQL
database.
e) The IT Officers were responsible of delivering the computers in the shops.
f) The project manager was responsible of coordinating project works and
communicating the progress of the project to all stakeholders especially the CEO.
Work breakdown structure
The Work Breakdown Structure as defined by the Project Management Institute is "a
hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to
accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables." (PMBOK 5).

Alien
Installation

Wide Area Preparation of Training of


Network Computers to managers on
Installation use for Alien Alien

Train
Design Wide Purchase
Regional
Area Network computers for
Managers on
Alien project
using Alien

Train Area
Mount Network Install the Alien
and Sales
cabinets and run Server at Head
Managers on
cables Office to connect
using Alien
to all shops

Install Alien on all Train Shop


Install Routers
client computers to Managers in
and Switches
be delivered in all shops on
shops using Alien

Deliver computers
in all shops across
the country
Project Execution
This was the critical stage of the project. As the Project Manager I had to get into my boots
and start working out the project activities. With the project scope and project breakdown
structure at hand, it was easy for me to execute the project activities. The three critical
processes of this stage were Wide Area Network Installation, preparing computers for Alien
Installation and Training shop, area and regional managers on Alien.

Wide Area Network Installation


We started by engaging an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to provide connectivity to all
shops in the country. This was done following the Wide Area Network design made by the IT
team. The Internet Service Provider used Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to connect
all the shops. This created a network that behaved as though all the computers were in one
room.

During the time the ISP Company was installing links in the outlets, the Network Engineers
were moving along with them to mount cabinets and lay cables in the shops. While this
process was taking place we made orders for routers from Cisco.

Preparing of computers for Alien Installation


We went round the city of Lusaka looking for a supplier who would handle the order of supplying
205 computers and two server machines.
 functional: business capabilities
 non-functional: speed, resilience and capacity
 architectural
 platform
 deployment
 operational, including running costs