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CGI and Bell implement a solution providing "just in time" cable order fulfillment, securing over $3 million of savings in only 4 months

"This project would not have happened without the dedicated efforts of all the companies involved in our cable installation process... Thank you for the tremendous team effort. You have made the Cable Field Inventory Management project a model for the future."

Donald Pumphrey, General Manager, Supply Chain Reengineering, Bell Canada

The Client
Bell Canada is Canada's largest supplier of telecommunications services. With one of the world's most robust and reliable public switched networks, Bell Canada provides advanced voice, data and image communications to millions of business and residence customers across Canada. Bell's Supply Chain Management group provides operational, system and process reengineering support to the many business units within Bell.

The Challenge
When Bell Canada receives a new residential, commercial or industrial mandate involving the laying or installation of cable in Ontario or Quebec, it partners with its external installation company as well as a third party logistics company to get the job done.

The external installation contracting company is responsible for ordering and laying the cable. The third party logistics partner supplies, cuts, warehouses and ships the cable. Bell uses multiple types of cable, from long haul to submarine and underground cable, and orders must be filled quickly and accurately. However, until recently, while the ordering process was done using SAP, the systems of the three companies involved were not interconnected, which led to complex, manual procedures needing to be applied.

Once the cable left a location such as the warehouse, Bell wanted to maintain visibility of the material, accurately track it and redeploy any surpluses. Bell therefore was seeking greater visibility of the entire process, and it called on CGI to implement technology to provide the visibility and control it needed.

CGI's challenge was to use the SAP Portal module to link the three companies and streamline the supply process. Entries needed to be transmitted from Bell Canada to its cable installation partners, but remain in the Bell system for tracking. The most challenging aspect of this link would be enabling the Bell Canada and the logistics companies' SAP systems to "talk" to each other. Because Bell was requesting a solution that would actually be used by employees in other companies, the new system would have to be very user friendly to ensure Bell's cable installation partners' staff accepted it quickly and used it correctly. Deadlines were extremely tight; the project needed to be completed within three months in order for it to be in place for the start of the busy construction season. And as Bell and CGI were about to change the entire process in both supplier companies, change management would play a pivotal role in the engagement.

The Strategy
CGI was brought into the project because of its experience in similar field inventory visibility mandates and its extensive SAP expertise.

To ensure user buy-in to the new system, CGI developed the user interface with the suppliers' employees. Not only did this ensure that the solution would be widely used and accepted, it also ensured that each step of the process was taken into account. For example, in the past, once an installation job was completed, the surplus material would often remain with the contractor, who did not require it. The new system allowed Bell to see surpluses and return excess cable and reels to its own warehouses for redeployment on other jobs. The entire interface was designed with a simple screen that allowed users to see and process an order with the click of a mouse.

The new system also controlled the amount of extra cable ordered for any given job. While supplementary cable is always important to have on hand, Bell's increased visibility of the process allowed it to propose the percentage of cable that should be added to the order and to monitor the actual amounts used.

And finally, to manage the process changes the users would be facing, CGI and Bell Canada put a huge emphasis on training and support. Project team members from both companies were deployed to every manned yard to train users personally. From Thunder Bay to Chicoutimi, job aids, effective communications and round the clock support were provided.

The Technology

  • SAP R/3
  • SAP Enterprise Portal

The Results
The project has delivered outstanding results. More than $6 million of surplus material at service provider yards has been made visible and available for redeployment. Over $3 million in cable has since been redeployed, representing a 100% increase over the original benefit estimates.

Excess cable, reels and associated equipment can now be returned to the warehouse for credit. Bell can also easily query the system to determine where stock is available at provider locations. And finally, Bell has achieved an overall reduction in cable excess on job sites.

Donald Pumphrey, General Manager - Supply Chain Reengineering, Bell Canada, summed it up when he addressed his appreciation to team members on all sides of the project. "This project would not have happened without the dedicated efforts of all companies involved in our cable installation process," he stated. "Thank you for the tremendous team effort. You have made the Cable Field Inventory Management project a model for the future."

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