The Bottom Line Per... Ann M. Harten

By Anna Maria Virzi Print this article Print

Sirva's CIO on delivering the goods.

PDF Download Harten is on the move. She joined Sirva in 2000 as CIO for U.S. operations, including logistics. Two months ago, she was promoted to CIO of the $2.2 billion company that includes Allied, Global and North American Van Lines. Among the projects she's tackling: a pilot in which van drivers will use handheld devices to track and record deliveries beginning in July.

Q. What metrics do you use to analyze the bottom-line results of projects?

A. Naturally, we use budgetary results. Was there an expected benefit associated with an I.T. project—either increased revenue or cost-avoidance or reduction? We have metrics for the actual performance of the project itself. Were we on time? On budget? How productive were we during the project?

Q. What's a recent project you've undertaken?

A. We successfully implemented imaging—the scanning of a piece of paper into a database so you can call it up via the Web. Our company moves people and their goods, and we move products for business units. In some cases, there can be 21 pieces of paper associated with a bill and they can be coming from three or four different providers. The paperwork is now in a centralized system.

Q. How does this system save time?

A. There's the [reduced] time involved in getting the paperwork into our billing group. It's eliminated the cost of not having overnight mail. You can retrieve a file from anywhere as long as you are authorized, whether you are a driver, agent or a customer who needs to look at the documents.

Q. What type of metric did you use to analyze the bottom-line results?

A. Largely that was related to hard dollars on day sales outstanding, a measurement from the time of service to receipt of cash. It was related to how quickly we get the bill out the door.

Q. When do you tackle a project in-house or buy packaged software?

A. If the company has an expertise in an area we don't have in-house [then we buy the packaged software]. For example, we have an international freight-forwarding group. There was a [software] package that allowed us to very quickly bring functionality in-house that we did not have expertise to build. We have also invested in i2 Technologies because of its expertise in mathematical models. And we've used Software AG to enhance the way the systems interconnect—send data back and forth—about inventory, as well as to enable better communication with customers using XML [the eXtensible Markup Language]. We used their systems as our foundation, but we developed in-house as well.

This article was originally published on 2003-06-01
Executive Editor
Anna Maria was assistant managing editor Forbes.com. She held the posts of news editor and executive editor at Internet World magazine and was city editor and Washington correspondent for the Connecticut Post, a daily newspaper in Bridgeport. Anna Maria has a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island.
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