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Connection relies on complex integration within its IT backbone to support global growth. It designs, produces and


distributes fashion clothing through a number of brands, including French Connection, Great Plains and Toast to more than 50 countries around the world. Retail Technology spoke to Claire

Joel, French Connection head of IT and Hazel Cawood, French Connection business systems analyst, about an implementation of job scheduling software, which has evolved to become a key component in delivering the IT services that the retailer depends on. Joel said: “Historically, French Connection installed SAP as its main business system with lots of interfaces.” She explained that the batch processing of data scheduled overnight was supervised by a two-man shift, requiring manual intervention should failures occur: “Our starting goal was to alleviate expense and inefficiencies.” These drivers led French Connection to data integration specialist Redwood Software. It adopted the provider’s SAP Central Process Scheduling tool to integrate its SAP R/3 platform with the IBM System i5 environment running

ashion group French

applications that underpin its retail and wholesale operations, including advanced Java-based electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) software. “We first took very simple steps

so we understood how the product worked, then we tackled overnight,” Joel continued. Once assured the tool was able to manage complex scheduling requirements, the IT team set about automating overnight and daytime processing and weekend reporting with event-driven, automated detection of incoming store data triggering schedules. Cawood said: “We’ve had it

running overnights for six years. But as we’ve moved on, it has moved with us.” Eliminating the overnight shift initially freed enough IT resources to establish a helpdesk. But the scheduling software has gone on to help manage a SAP AS400 migration to Windows SQL Server, roll out and integrate SAP business warehouse (BW) and business intelligence (BI) systems and support the introduction of new warehouse fulfilment equipment, as well as the implementation of SAP in the US retail business. During that time the company took on and subsequently upgraded Redwood’s Cronacle suite from version 6 to 8. “We are focused on getting as much into it as possible,”


added Cawood. “If there are any important errors, it flags them up. And I can always logon remotely. The visibility it gives me has made things easier for me as a manager too. When we upgraded to v8, the new interface was quite intuitive. In terms of customising it, it’s easy because the logic behind hasn’t changed, so we didn’t have to retrain.”

Joel added that the initial project more than paid for itself. But the gains made by the IT team to rapidly deliver on changing business requirements far outweigh the cost of Cronacle: “We knew Redwood would provide business process automation, but we didn’t know how business critical it would become.”

u Over 20 Aramark convenience stores have rolled out the Vision BeanStore EPoS system from PCMS to deliver business efficiencies and greater profitability. The system integrates directly with wholesalers to facilitate inventory management and stock ordering. Nigel Deung, Aramark south west regional director of operations, said: “Vision BeanStore aids day-to- day business management, providing levels of analysis at the touch of a button and, typically, most staff can learn to use it in within half an hour.”

Accord-Momentum making NonStop™ Retail a reality 0161 355 3000

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Continuous trading with no down time Fresh ergonomic software design Real-time control and company-wide visibility of data Fast, simple and cost-effective deployment Rapid Return on Investment


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