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"Sterling Commerce is a software company that helps our customers optimize and transform their Business Collaboration Network inside and outside the enterprise quickly, easily, and securely so they can accelerate revenues and reduce costs."
Source : Sterling Commerce
ROI Case Study
Value-Added Network (VAN) is also known as :
Value-Added Network ,
Value Network Analysis,
Electronic Data Interchange EDI VAN,
Optimize Business Value,
Private Network Provider ,
Specializing In EDI VAN Services,
Value Added Network EDI,
Electronic Data Interchange Value Added Network,
Use Of Secure Private Network,
Edi Value Added Network ,
Value Added Network Providers,
Virtual Access Network,
Value Added Network Definition,
Sterling Collaboration Network,
Configurable Value-Added Network ,
Data Networks Or VAN ,
Data Networks Or Value-Added Network,
Value Added Network Services,
Privately Owned Network ,
Shared Intelligent Data Network,
Complete Value Added Network ,
Value Added Network Solution,
VAN Solution .
THE BOTTOM LINE
Deploying Sterling Commerce"s Gentran Integration Suite enabled Crowley
Maritime to support growth without adding new staff, accelerate the
onboarding of new customers, and eliminate costs of participating in a
Crowley Maritime provides maritime services, including shipping, barge towing,
ship escorting, and ship management. These and other services are provided using
a fleet of more than 210 vessels, consisting cargo ships, tankers, tugs and barges.
Crowley also has land-based facilities and equipment that include terminals,
warehouses, tank farms, office buildings, trucks, trailers, containers, chassis,
cranes, and other specialized vehicles.
Crowley"s business requires the rapid on-boarding, billing, and invoicing of
customers, each of which need to complete a variety of different and complex
transactions with Crowley. In 2004, the company"s EDI transaction volume had
increased by 500 percent over the prior five years, and the senior management
wanted to ensure that the company would be capable of sustaining this growth rate
without harming service delivery. Crowley had been using EDI over its mainframe
and a value-added network (VAN) in order to complete transactions and orders
with customers, as well as partners such as railroads, United States Customs, and
freight forwarding companies.
After evaluating its systems, Crowley determined that it had a number of
challenges that made it difficult for employees to cost effectively and rapidly
onboard and complete transaction with customers, including:
- Cost. Access to the VAN cost the company an average of $24,000 per month,
depending on the level of activity.
- Integration. Message routing and programming all ran through Crowley"s IBM
mainframe, but the company had begun purchasing and creating important
commerce-related standalone programs that required integration with the
mainframe. As a result, go-live dates and productivity benefits were delayed
while the company"s IS department created homegrown ways to integrate
these new applications with the mainframe.
- Programmer dependence. Costly developer-level expertise was required for
troubleshooting, as well as some of the more complex but routine transactions
with customers and partners.
- Labor intensive. When non-developer employees such as business analysts
used the system, many of the workflows were complex, labor-intensive, and
error prone. Most of these processes also lacked standardization, which made
it difficult to complete rework and improve workflows.
In late 2005, Crowley maritime began looking for ways to simplify how it
exchanged data and completed transactions with partners and customers. Crowley
looked at solutions from the leading integration platform vendors and Sterling
Commerce. Sterling"s Gentran Integration Suite was chosen for a number of
- Integration. The system is capable of integration with a variety of
development languages, platforms, and protocols.
- SOA. Crowley anticipated using service-oriented architecture " the practice of
using reusable and platform-independent pieces of software to build and
integrate applications. Crowley viewed Sterling"s SOA-based Gentran
Integration Suite as a way to begin adopting SOA practices.
- Usability. Crowley was confident that the ease of use built into the suite would
enable far more workflows to be completed by the company"s business
analysts, and reduce their dependence on programmers.
Sterling Commerce"s Gentran Integration Suite was deployed at Crowley Maritime
over a 4-month period by two consultants from Sterling, two employees from
Crowley, and one third-party consultant. The deployment was completed in
November 2007 and involved the following:
- Infrastructure. The deployment team first installed new servers, loaded the
application and data onto them, and then tested them for both security and
- Transaction setup. Gentran was customized for the most commonly-used
Crowley-specific transactions such as onboarding and a variety of shipping
activities. Once they were tested and accepted by the end users, the
deployment team began moving Crowley"s largest customers to Gentran from
Crowley"s old EDI platform.
- Training. Prior to the go-live date, business analysts and developers were
trained on Gentran so that they could both build new functionality on the
platform and complete transactions for customers.
Sterling"s Gentran Integration suite is now used for 36 of Crowley"s largest
customers and 72 of its most commonly utilized transactions. As a result, it
supports 90 percent of Crowley"s business-to-business transactions. In fact, a
portion of these transactions are now completed in minutes by staff in Crowley"s
call center. The breadth of the deployment is continually being expanded and new
transactions and functionality are being added on a regular basis.
KEY BENEFIT AREAS
Deploying Sterling Commerce"s Gentran Integration Suite has enabled Crowley to
avoid staff additions, improve productivity, and eliminate VAN-related costs. Key
benefits from the solution include:
- Avoided headcount. As a result of the deployment, the company spends far
less time creating custom code, troubleshooting system problems, and
correcting transaction errors. Not having to complete these tasks at a time
when most categories of business-to-business transaction volumes were
growing by 60 percent annually meant that Crowley was able to avoid hiring
three new developers and one new business analyst.
- Eliminated VAN costs. Because so many systems, partners, and customers are
now integrated into the Gentran Integration Suite, the majority of volume-
based costs for accessing the VAN have been eliminated.
- Improved productivity. As a result of the deployment, business-to-business
transactions with customers and partners can now be completed more rapidly,
usually by lower-cost employees " and sometimes are entirely automated
within the Gentran Integration Suite. By offloading to the application
transactions related to new EDI bookings and inquiries regarding the status of
rail car reservations, the company has eliminated one full-time equivalent in
the call center.
- Eliminated mailing costs. Before the deployment, Crowley used a paper-based
system for transmitting bill-of-lading transaction details. This is now done
without paper by the Gentran Integration Suite, resulting in avoided paper,
postage, and sorting costs for 5,000 transactions per year.
KEY COST AREAS
Key cost areas for the deployment included software, consulting, personnel, and
training. Software costs consisted of the cost of Gentran Integration Suite and
annual license maintenance. The application was deployed by three Crowley
employees, one Sterling consultant, and one third-party consultant over a 4-month
period. The application and supporting data were deployed on two new servers.
Prior to the go-live date, six employees attended a 5-day training class in order to
learn how to use the application and fine tune it to create new, Crowley-specific
transactions on it.
A key factor in the success of the deployment was the focus on usability.
Throughout the deployment, the team focused on making the Gentran Integration
Suite as IT- and developer-independent as possible. This was accomplished by
aggressively exploring and experimenting with application features, such as
mailboxing and messaging, that make it easier for business analysts to
independently perform exception management. Because the platform can be used
by less costly employees who are closer to Crowley"s customers, the company has
been able to avoid new hires while also improving service delivery for its rapidly
growing customer base.
CALCULATING THE ROI
Nucleus calculated the costs of software, consulting, personnel, training, and
hardware over a 3-year period to quantify Crowley"s total investment in Sterling
Commerce"s Gentran Integration Suite.
Direct benefits calculated included eliminated costs of participation in a VAN and
avoided headcount costs. Indirect benefits consisted of productivity improvements
for developers and business analysts. These benefits were calculated based on the
average fully loaded annual cost of these employees, and the benefit was adjusted
by a correction factor in order to account for the inefficient transfer of time from
time saved to time spent on new work.
Nucleus Research is a global provider of investigative technology research and advisory services. Building on
its unique ROI case study approach, for nearly a decade Nucleus Research has delivered insight and analysis
on the true value of technology and strategies for maximizing current investments and exploiting new
technology opportunities. For more information or a list of services, visit NucleusResearch.com, call
+1-617-720-2000, or e-mail info@NucleusResearch.com.
Payback: 1.10 years