Lantec UK Ltd employs over 300 engineers across the country to perform IT-related installation and maintenance tasks. Managing these engineers involved the exchange of instructions and data via phone calls, faxes, and paper job sheets and expense forms. This provided a major workload for a team of administrators and schedulers interacting with both the engineers and the clients.
Initially a system was defined that would allow engineers to be scheduled, and to record details of jobs, timesheets, and expenses. To this was added complex pay and billing calculations. The system needed to be accessible not only within the office environment, but also remotely by engineers, their managers and clients. Later on warehouse management and logistics support were added. A PDA interface is also included to allow engineers to close jobs, manage inventory, and complete timesheet absence, and expense data entry.
Business Net Solutions Ltd was invited to implement an application to fulfil these needs. Starting with our existing suite of CRM and scheduling software we customised a solution that met the above business objectives.
The application has been written using the latest Dot Net technology from Microsoft and is accessed from any computer having Internet access. It is currently deployed on two Windows 2003 Servers running Microsoft SQL Server 2000. The primary web server supports the transaction database, and the secondary server supports reporting services and also acts as a hot-backup in the event of a failure in the primary server.
Reporting services are provided both web based, via active Excel workbooks, and via HTML emails delivering Key Performance Indicators and management reports daily to key members of the management team.
Customised data exchange routines have been produced to provide a bi-directional interface with client computer systems (NCR) and courier services (Business Direct).
As the company has grown the system has similarly expanded and evolved into a full Enterprise Resource Management solution, with Help Desk, Workshop, and Order Management facilities. Additional web interfaces have been provided for couriers, staffing agencies, manufacturers and clients to interact with the system, together with SOAP and XML links to remote computer systems.
Staff access the system using a web interface that adjusts to provide only those functions that each person needs to perform their job. The application is therefore a simple to use, central repository of business functionality and information.
Management have functions that allow them to view and authorise business activity, together with support for exception management and alerts. In addition we are able to modify and enhance the system rapidly to respond to new client challenges.
Customer reaction has been favourable, in that more detailed, accurate, and timely work reports are now available. In particular the total inventory and defect tracking approach has allowed Lantec to win considerable new business.
Delivering the application via a web browser and Excel reports allows deployment of the application with no setup or installation costs other than gaining reliable Internet access. The application can be enhanced and if necessary patched during live operation.
Software systems such as this need to be powerful, reliable, and flexible to allow a business to change and grow. Administration tasks need to be simple and accurate. Management need a wide variety of information and control functions. Business Net Solutions Ltd continues to provide the software and support for Lantec UK Ltd that is allowing Lantec to become a leading provider of IT services in the UK.