Business Integration's Road Warrior

 
 
By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 2006-07-13
 
 
 
Praveen Sharabu
Dir., Enterprise Architecture and Infrastructure
Con-Way
San Mateo, Calif.
www.con-way.com

MANAGER'S PROFILE: Oversees architecture development for the $4.2 billion trucking and logistics company.

THE CHALLENGE: In 2002, Sharabu and his team sought to improve the efficiency of accounts-receivable collection in four of Con-way's regional trucking operations. He says the company's collection agents were spending less time recouping fees because they had to research the account status of their customers—spread among databases and applications.

CONNECT THE DOTS: Previously, Sharabu and his team experimented with integration without a specific project in mind, just to keep on their toes. He even toyed with "component integration": a way of aligning software programs and interfaces to complete business tasks independent of the platform they run on, known today as service-oriented architecture (SOA).

HIS PROJECT: Sharabu revisited the concept of component integration to link the accounts-receivable systems. Con-way used Tibco Software's enterprise service bus software to build a service-oriented architecture. The team finished implementation in 28 weeks—two weeks ahead of schedule. After a year, payment days outstanding dropped to 24 from 29, Sharabu says.

KEEP ON TRUCKIN': Con-way uses SOA in other initiatives. For example, the software sends shipment details to Canadian customs agents to speed up shipments into the country, which Sharabu says saves "tens of thousands of dollars a day." Con-way also has eliminated about 500 hours of workers' time daily by automating pickup and drop-off times, a process previously done by phone.