HeadquartersLong Beach, CA, USA
Centralize B2B commerce to create a global Center of Excellence that minimizes processing costs and delivers added value for clients
- A single, global view of B2B processes across customers and regions
- Real-time process lifecycle visibility and analytics
- Self-service monitoring without IT involvement
- Alerts and dashboards to proactively inform staff of any transaction-related problems
- Brokerage model for B2B and enterprise integration, regardless of protocols and formats
Continuous growth requires continuous innovation
From its inception in 1926, UTi has focused on achieving continuous growth by delivering increasing value and efficiency for its clients’ unique supply chains. The company, which started as a freight forwarder in Germany, has grown into a $5 billion provider of integrated and innovative supply chain services and solutions, including air, ocean, distribution, customs brokerage, and contract logistics.
As UTi expanded its global footprint to 245 logistics centers in 59 countries, its lifeblood B2B operations evolved into regional silos, with no efficient way to manage IT resources or gain visibility into company-wide file transfers and transactions. “Each region had its own EDI instance, with separate processes and separate IT resource pools to manage them,” said Theresa Gosko, IT Manager, UTi Worldwide. “We were not able to develop corporate-level best practices and lacked a standardized enterprise approach to integration. We also struggled to create a single, rolled-up reporting mechanism across the regions.”
Centralized Center of Excellence supports global clients and processes
To enable future growth, continue to enhance the value of its services, and improve efficiency to drive down internal costs, UTi looked to centralize its B2B operations in a single Center of Excellence that could be leveraged across the enterprise, around the world. “We realized that it was too difficult to serve global clients in a regionally oriented way,” Gosko explained.
“We had situations where we were using different communication protocols for a single client across the regional centers, but the client required one way to interact with UTi to address their global logistics needs.”
Today, the global B2B Center of Excellence uses Axway to provide an environment in which all UTi clients, third parties and brokers can be managed through a common B2B translation environment for any message type. The solution employs a brokerage concept to work with various back-end business systems, such as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), global freight forwarding, accounts receivable, and other accounting processes.
Proactive response with real-time visibility and analytics
Through customizable dashboards and out-of-the- box reports, Axway Sentinel delivers global views and key performance indicators across all regions and countries in a single place. Monitoring capabilities enable staff to keep an eye on what is happening at all times, and automated alerts tied to events and business rules proactively inform them when something does not happen as expected. For example, UTi can follow an individual purchase order through each step in its lifecycle as it transitions from a PO to an advanced ship notice (ASN) to an invoice, including client acknowledgements (or lack thereof) all along the way.
“We can now see every touchpoint in a process and put metrics in place,” Gosko said. “So, if we know a client regularly sends purchase orders every two hours and we go through a 2-hour window without receiving the PO, we can be proactive and quickly address the issue. Before, we had to rely on the client telling us something went wrong, which didn’t make for a very efficient process, or a satisfying customer experience. Axway Sentinel enables what we call ‘data flow governance,’ allowing us to manage our B2B data, gain positive control and empower our people.”
Self-service across the business optimizes resource use
UTi also relies on Axway Sentinel to enable multiple business functional areas to view the most pertinent B2B transactional information on their own, without tapping precious IT resources or waiting for a response.
For example, users who have been granted the appropriate permissions can use the customized Invoicing dashboard, which includes dynamic links, to see:
- A bar chart of the total number of invoices processed per month
- A pie chart of revenue by country
- A table of the top customers by invoice volume and revenue
- Graphs of daily and weekly invoice volumes and amounts
- Days sales outstanding
Business users can also search custom tracked objects using drop-down filters, including:
- Document type
- Customer ID
- Document Name
- From Date
- To Date
- Acknowledgement Status (Accepted, Rejected, Rejected with errors noted)
“Self-service is a really key part of our solution, because it allows us to provide the right information to our entire business community, which they can use to track what is happening in the business processes that matter to them,” Gosko said.
“Previously, it was a very cumbersome, expensive proposition to address questions and issues through an IT ticket process. With Sentinel, people can see what happened and when it happened in the lifecycle, and they can trust and believe what they see because we now have a single source of truth.”
Lower costs and higher value for UTi and its customers
UTi’s vision of improving efficiency and value for the company and its clients has come to fruition. The global B2B Center of Excellence speeds and simplifies problem identification and resolution, lowers software licensing and maintenance costs, enables best practices to be applied to all processes for all clients in all regions, and reduces IT’s burden and expense.
“In a dynamic supply chain, you have to be able to move quickly and be really efficient; you have to be able to do more with less, whether that’s lowering costs or using fewer resources and technology components,” Gosko said. “By centralizing and modernizing our B2B operations and utilizing Sentinel for event management, we have simplified production support and gained back the time we used to spend going through each technology layer to find out where and why something went wrong.”
The value of the consolidated and modern approach — and the IT team — was quickly recognized across the company’s multiple business areas.
“With Sentinel, people can see what happened and when it happened in the lifecycle, and they can trust and believe what they see because we now have a single source of truth.”
Theresa Gosko, IT Manager, UTi Worldwide
“The feedback is that the metrics and reporting are proving invaluable to our internal clients,” Gosko said. “The Axway Sentinel dashboards are like a common language across our global enterprise and the end-to- end visibility is really irreplaceable.”
Gosko continued, “You have to have a B2B event management system to enable the internal chargeback model, which is basically IT’s value proposition back to the company. Creating this B2B Center of Excellence utilizing shared infrastructure and personnel resources is how we’ve been able to accomplish this.”
Creating a solution business users and IT can appreciate
Gosko’s advice to other organizations implementing a centralized B2B event management system relates to strategy and resource management. “It’s important to have totally dedicated resources defining how to use the technology and how to architect the solution — start by having the IT ‘cooks’ create and eat their own cooking,” she explained. “Then you have to get in a room with your business users to understand what information they want to see and how they want to see it. And, finally, don’t try to take on too much all at once. A phased approach to the implementation will help ensure success.”
“The feedback is that the metrics and reporting are proving invaluable to our internal clients. The Axway Sentinel dashboards are like a common language across our global enterprise and the end-to-end visibility is really irreplaceable.”
Theresa Gosko, IT Manager, UTi Worldwide