Global standardisation delivers benefits at UPS

 

Outgoing IT director speaks.

UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company, is perhaps one of the most IT-enabled organisations in the world.

Over 20 years, the firm’s technology has seen radical change, and one man has been there to witness it all.

Outgoing IT director Graham Nugent joined the company in 1988 and was responsible for streamlining the firm’s applications portfolio and the planning and implementation of all major system upgrades in Europe.

“My legacy is the collapse of local systems and the implementation of common enterprise solutions. I have a schematic in my role that shows the main UPS systems and their interfaces on an A3-sized piece of paper – ­ and it’s a nice position to be in, as the alternative is chaos,” said Nugent, who retired from UPS last week.

“In an increasingly cost-competitive environment, a central solution is easier to control and contain.”

Nugent said that consolidation has been a watchword in back-office projects, where virtualisation allowed the company to downsize non-core assets at its two datacentres, which contain more than 11,000 servers.

Another key achievement was the development of a migration programme to move UPS’s Visual Basic 6 applications to .Net.

UPS now expects to spend its near-US$1bn (A$1.26 bn) IT budget on initiatives that include web-based systems to provide customers with better access to information and services.

During his stint at UPS, Nugent was also given responsibility for joining up the IT systems of parcel carrier firm Lynx, which UPS acquired in 2005 and completed integration last year.

UPS now has a standard integration procedure, and the company also learned a few lessons.

“When merging IT infrastructures, you need to ensure that you make the right people accountable and have standards. However, that can be difficult when some of your customers don’t share the same practices and preferred products,” said Nugent.

“But when you work for a business the size of UPS, it is just like an oil tanker ­ you can change quickly, but it takes time and it needs a lot of focus and continuous attention,” he said.

Copyright © 2010 Computing


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