SATS is the leading Airport Services and Food Solutions provider of Singapore. With an aim to be the first choice provider of airport services and food solutions leveraging on its capabilities, SATS believes in continuous improvement and customer eccentricity and thus adheres to power axiom of "One with You".
At present many processes at SATS with respect to payment collections, reimbursements, sales etc. are manual and thus there is always a possibility of errors and inefficiencies in the current system. To eliminate these errors and to increase efficiencies the concept of SATS e-Cashiering & POS system comes into picture.
The e-Cashiering system helps in automating the cashiering and reconciliation system at SATS. The automation is critical to avoid losses due to misuse of claims procedures and minimise reconciliation related losses. There is a need to improve the documentation process and to reduce the reliance on hand written customer collection documents (such as Excess Baggage Forms / cargo payment collection documents). This calls to introduce a server based POS (Point-of-Sale) system to cater for future ad-hoc collections such as functions, gatherings and generic stations for various new customers on a flexible web based platform for SATS Group and associate businesses (collectively "SATS") to which this platform will be developed for use.
The proposed system would also prove to be extremely beneficial in automating the reimbursement claims processes, which are carried out perennially at the SATS back office.
The POS system along with the e-Cashiering system would help SATS in understanding its customer in a much better fashion with the help of customer relationship management tools and thus would eventually lead to top line and bottom line growth of the organization.
An operating experience of over 60 years, SATS has an emerging global presence. SATS - Singapore Airport Terminal Services - is Singapore's leading provider of Airport Services and Food Solutions .They caters to a large number of services. The services are primarily Airport Services and Food Solutions.
The ground handling services include the following:
- Air freight handling
- Baggage handling
- Cargo delivery management
- Passenger, and apron/ramp services
- Aircraft interior cleaning
- Cabin services
The in-flight catering services encapsulates services such as industrial catering, food logistics, chilled and frozen meats , other chilled as well as frozen food manufacturing, airline linen and laundry services, bakery products, seafood products, frozen vegetables, fresh fruits, chilled soups, chilled ready meals, fruit juices, prepared fruits, and desserts, and airline linen and laundry services.
Aviation security services are also offered by SATS, services such as screening of the baggage and cargo, guard and escort services, checking for anti-sabotage, fraudulent document checks. They also rent their premise to various airlines.
Some of the customers of SATS are listed as below:
- Air China
- Air Mauritius
- Air India
- Asiana Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Jet Aviation
- Tiger Airways
The Cashiering System for SATS looks at the three main functionalities Collections, POS and Claims. The above stated all the systems are manual in nature at present. SATS has operations in the four passenger terminals; they have placed several cashiers who handle the daily claims and payments of cash. Currently, each cashier would receive the claims and provide the receipts manually.
SATS aims to automate all these processes with the help of a centralized Cashiering System. The E Cashier software would help in automating the cashiering and reconciliation system at SATS. There is a need to improve the documentation process and to reduce the reliance on hand written customer collection documents (such as Excess Baggage Forms / cargo payment collection documents).Also, automation would be critical to avoid losses due to misappropriate of claims procedures and minimize any reconciliation related losses. Introduce a server based POS (Point-of-Sale) system. To cater for ad-hoc collections for various new customers on a flexible web based platform for SATS Group and associate businesses (collectively "SATS") to which this platform will be developed for use.
The automated system is desired to perform the following:
- The tool should automate the cashiering and reconciliation processes and provide a platform for the integration with our existing ERP systems.
- The tool should help in providing the necessary information for the purpose of analyzing revenue generation opportunities and serve as a business analysis tool as well as an accounting assistance tool for proper record keeping and meet audit requirements by providing an audit trail.
- The tool should be in conjunction with SATS business environments, and ensuring a standard for existing and new JVs and subsidiaries.
- The tool should provide detailed logs of the day-to-day transactions and ensure that each transaction is accounted for.
- The tool should reduce the chances of losses due to mishandling of claims.
The problem statement looked at the issues on hand which were ability to automate, data mining and business intelligence capability and being able to monitor employee and airline claims. The approach revolved around getting hold of the processes involved in each business area such as Collections, Lounges etc. This was achieved by meeting the concerned stakeholders and actors within the sphere of operations.
The main features of the approach of understanding the current requirements involved a 5 stage process.
Interaction with business actors: This step involved interactions and discussions with the business actors on the as-is process side. The actors involved in the three major areas of automation, the collections, the claims and the POS. On the collections side, the business actor is the front desk employee who involved in receiving payments from airline customers and customers from Silk Air and Singapore Airlines. SATS is a partner with these airlines and provides the baggage handling/claims, hotel/meal vouchers, excess baggage, extra leg room and other services for Singapore airlines and Silk Air. These services are provided to other providers on a pay-per-use basis. The interaction provided details on the receipt level details of the service.
Claims are another area from where the cash flow is initiated in the value chain of the cashiering process. In this case the flow of cash is out of the system, and is initiated whenever an employee submits a claim or the partner airlines send in a claim for the services. The employee claims are submitted by an employee stating details of costs incurred, purpose and giving in details of the employee in a Petty Cash Voucher (PCV). An employee claim has a certain cap on the amounts claimed based on their role and position within the company. The details of the amounts v/s role mapping has been briefed in the business requirement document (BRD). The airlines submit their claims through the PCV along with the original bills to the front desk employee in the collections area detailing out the name of the airlines, the amount and the purpose or the cost incurred to the airline such as meal vouchers, accommodation, taxi claims of customers etc.
The next level of interactions is with the duty manager and the cashier who are next in the value chain of the entire cashiering process. The duty manager is responsible to take a look at the claim submitted and verify the authenticity of the claim submitted. In the as-is process there are two duty managers, one is by the collections desk who approves the airline claims post verification and the other by the back-office who completes the check on employee claims and amounts before approving them to the cashier.
The cashier functions as the back-office in the value chain, documents the transaction and stores the claim receipts that are attached to the PCV. The cashier also completes the reconciliation of the end-of-day records. It is imperative for the cashier to maintain a cash reserve of 4000$ everyday on the start of duty hours. This amount is replenished each day by the cashier to maintain the cash reserves. Sometimes if the cash is in excess, the collections send back the excess amount over 4000$ to the cashier to reconciles it. There are periodic checks and audits on the cashiering processes and hence it is of utmost importance for the cashier to maintain a certain level of documentation for the purpose of compliance and audit.
Analyze the manual process: The information gathered from interactions with the business actors was analyzed and the inputs and outputs in the systems were looked at. The redundant processes within the as-is process and how automation could pitch in to remove the redundancy in the processes. From the discussions with the SATS management, there were suggestions that there is a need for exhaustive automation and not make-shift levels of automation. The set of processes that involved in reporting was separated from the processes that contributed to the monitoring of the claims processes. The analysis of the processes and the requirements of the business actors, lead to the inclusion of reporting, monitoring and business intelligence capability in the automated system. The duty manager needs to be empowered with tracking and monitoring the employees who claim more frequently than the others to be able to reduce expenses due to fraudulent claims from employees. To be able to improvise the marketing and promotions, there is a need for business intelligence and data mining capabilities on the POS terminal and collections area to be able to gauge the categories and services that are doing better than the others. This data mining would enable budget allocation to specific categories of the profit making segment.
Queries: A series of queries were exchanged with the SATS personnel for getting clarity on the intricate processes, few of the queries related to the limits on the employee claims as per the role mapping, the existing IT infrastructure and the categories of services offered by SATS to other airlines.
Document: Based on the queries and resolutions, the discussions, the requirement gathering and the analysis of the manual processes, the business requirements documents and request for proposal was drafted and sent out. The modifications were incorporated as per the comments received and documents were documented in the format specified by SATS. The RFP was further included in the format mentioned by SATS complete with all legal documentation put in place.
Screen shots of the receipts and PCV used in the manual processes were included in the BRD to facilitate a clearer understanding of the manual processes and the expected extend of automation in the to-be process. The requirements in the BRD were categorized as security requirements, the availability requirements, performance requirements etc. These requirements were further prioritized based on their criticality and functionality aspects to the business process. The prioritization of the requirements is for the internal purpose of using the critical requirements for the modular implementation and for vendor evaluation. This can be illustrated in an example: Say for example, POS is highest priority requirement, while say data mining is lowest priority, vendors that are at par on most aspects can be evaluated on their expertise in data mining and POS, if a vendor has had higher experience and skills with respect to POS, that particular vendor needs to be given higher rating than a vendor who has had lesser experience in POS implementations previously. Since data mining is of lower importance, vendors with lower experience in data mining should still be considered for further evaluation.
Review and Delivery: The documents were sent out for review and sign-off from the users , there was initial level of review after which the changes suggested related to terms, documentation, level of details for clarity and the format itself were incorporated. The final format was sent out for sign-off which accounted for completed delivery once the document was signed -off.
Refine and Prioritize
Prioritization of requirements happened once the documented requirements were refining and analyzed. The priorities given were 1, 2 and 3 based on the criticality to the business and importance in the business process reengineering. There were a few requirements that were rates low rating of 4, if they revolved around most obvious aspects of user interface.
Requirements related to security related areas such as access limitations, timings and infrastructure related costs were prioritized as 1. The requirements related to user administration controls and audit trails is rated 2. The most obvious user interface requirements have been rated a 3 and 4 depending on the importance. This rating helps in evaluating vendors during their presentation on being able to deliver and understand the system priorities. Vendors who depict the project phase out in the manner the requirements have been prioritized indicate that they understand the requirements and function on a mature model and methodology and should be rated higher overall in the evaluation process.
Business Process Re-engineering
The approach describes the methodology of understanding the processes involved in functioning of the basic modules in the cashiering and reconciliation, which are collections, claims and POS. These processes were analyzed and put together in the form of a process diagram. The major steps were included and miniscule details like the receipt being given out to the customer or keeping the claims documents or sorting them were not included. The reason for not including these processes was that they would continue to exist even after the to-be process is evolved in the form of automation.
The receipt would still be handed over to the customer and certain level of manual sorting and maintaining the hardcopy of claims (bills) would continue to happen even after the automation. The as-is diagram is depicted as below and includes the processes in the manual method of cashiering.
While coming up with the as-is process diagram we considered the individual steps within every module of the proposed cashiering system such as the claims, the POS and the collections. The steps were categorized into operation, transportation, inspection, delay, storage and rework. There were calculations using the number of minutes allocated to each of the steps in these modules and the efficiency was calculated. The workings of this are given in the excel sheet attached in appendix.
Once the as-is diagram was completed, the redundant and time consuming processes are identified. The to-be process diagram aims at eliminating the unwanted processes and improvisation of the existing connections between processes. Based on analysis and interactions with the business actors, the processes of sending the documents and cash to every department take a lot of time. These steps are eliminated due to automation in the to-be process, which looks as below:
The to-be process diagram eliminates 5 steps and associated delays with regards to transportation and submissions. Also based on the process analysis and data summary calculations detailed out in the excel sheet appended in the appendix, we can see that there is a increase of nearly 90% in the process efficiency in from the manual processes. The to-be process brings in automation and also enables the possibilities of reporting and data mining. Losses related to fraudulent claims or related to misallocation of budget can be minimized. Once the employee claims are tracked and the frequency of claims is monitored, there can be regulations imposed on the number of claims/amount claimed within a specified tenure. Data mining enables the knowledge of category king, which is the best performing category in the services offered by SATS and the associated lounges, this knowledge can be used to allocate higher budgets and staffing for performing categories and specific promotions or measures can be undertaken to improve the others.
Once the automation is accomplished and the e-cashiering system is implemented, there would be several improvements on the company performance and the results. The factors on the balance scorecard which are Financials, the customer, the internal business processes and the learning and growth have an impact on the company's vision and strategy. The impact and the changes from these individual factors can be depicted in the diagram given below:
The customer will benefit by way of efficient billing and customer identification, which would mean reduction of hassles and queue time and faster, efficient service. The digitized customer information can be used to reduce customer verification time. Further there can be targeted promotion campaigns and subsequent loyalty programs implemented that would lead to effective marketing and greater reach within the market segment. The automation of the cashiering process is a step towards the capability to implement further measures and programs towards customer targeting and customer satisfaction. Within the POS area, customers can be targeted by their frequency of travels and most preferred lounges and services used. Based on forecasts using data mining techniques, the most frequented categories and inventories can be updated and kept ready for usage, thus working towards customer delight.
Learning & Growth
Learning would be in terms of identifying the category captain and allocating specified budget towards improvisation of the most-popular-category and building a loyal customer base around it. In terms of the categories that are under-utilized or services that are less frequented, there can be specific measures undertaken to initiate and target a specific customer segment. In case the reports and data mining results indicate that a certain category or service has been grossly underutilized over a long period of time, measures such as reducing the capacity or closing down the service and transferring the capacity to the category captain can be considered. Such drastic measures are just an outcome based on analysis and not a possibility that can happen once e-cashiering is implemented.
Usage of e-cashiering and adoption of the revised business processes is possible by implementing a rigorous training and knowledge management program. All employees need to be trained on using the automated system and initiate the efficient customer service program. The adoption of the new business process and the efficient usage of e-cashiering can be implemented by documenting the screen shots of the new system and certain step by step instructions on using the system and incorporating FAQ's and providing some hands on training to the employees. This learning would be complete only after the expected time lag that would go into the learning curve after which the system efficiency can start contributing to the overall vision and strategy at SATS.
Business process reengineering brings about significant savings in terms of costs saved by monitoring employee claims and reduction of fraudulent claims. There would savings in terms of budget allocations by means of calculated decisions in budget allocations to category captains and reduction of budget to lesser utilized services and categories. There would be costs saved with respect to time and efficiencies by removing redundant processes. There would higher utilization of resources and efficient processes applied in place.
Internal Business Processes
The internal business processes are improved by monitoring of fraudulent and excessive claims from employees and ability to cut down on redundant processes. There can be business process reengineering and cut down on the inefficiencies of the manual processes such as manual errors, tedious reporting methodology and manual reconciliation by writing down ledgers and records and manual approval and rejection processes. The associated report work also is reduced.
Change management should is an integral part of the project. It ensures standardized procedures that are employed for all the changes. Facilitating efficient, prompt and error free system and handling of all changes along with maintaining balance between the requirement of change and threat of detrimental impact of changes. It lays down a foundation for a smooth transition from the manual to the automated process.
Change management is effective if there is complete documentation. The as is procedures is documented in detail. This is followed by the new automated processes in detail. Effective mapping is done between the already existing system and the new system. The functionalities of the new system should also be exhibited explicitly.
The dependencies on the already existing system play a crucial role in the change management as it has to be considered that the new system is to ride on the existing system and not drastically change the underlying infrastructure.
The automated system of the SATS cashiering system should employ the Change management by taking into account the following:
- Hardware: The hardware that is mentioned as the already existing IT Infrastructure in the RFP should be well studied. The new system should use platform and other tools that are compliant with the existing ones. It should also ensure that there is seamless integration of the existing and the new hardware. Up gradations and patch management are also important.
- Communications equipment and software: the messengers that are presently available in the organization should be integrated within the new system. The software should adhere and be compatible with the already existing ones
- All documentation and procedures associated with the running, support and maintenance of live systems.
- Logs: the logs should report all the critical events. Security, application and the failure events should be adequately reported and the handling measures should be quick in nature. The reporting in the log helps in the tracking procedures in case of some disaster.
- Project management: if there are any organization structure changes then they should also be reported and new structure should be communicated effectively. Upon the automation of the system it is evident that there be change in the roles and the responsibilities of some of the staff of SATS. Charting out clearly the new roles and mapping accordingly the responsibilities is important.
The Business Requirement Document
SATS was provided with a business requirement document which explained in detail the functionality of the proposed solution with the help of a number of business requirements. These requirements were broken down into the following categories -
- System Requirements
- requirements for collections
- requirements for POS systems
- requirements for claims
- Implementation Requirements
- User Requirements
- Audit Requirements
- Security Requirements.
System requirements are the requirements related to what kind of functionalities should the proposed system cater to i.e. these are the actual requirements of the client which need to be met with the help of the system. Some of the manual processes at SATS which need to be automated were represented in the form of these system requirements for example some of the requirements for the collections process at SATS included the following -
- The system would be based on client server architecture.
- System would consist of screens for capturing the necessary information of the customer who comes to the SATS excess baggage counter for payment purposes. These screens would include fields such as passenger ticket no., flight name, flight name, amount deposited etc.
- The system should be able to display the total amount collected for a particular time period, the number of transactions made for a particular time period.
- The system should have some reconciliation feature so as to reconcile the system transactions with the physical cash collected at the counter(s).
- Various kinds of reports such as reports for finance viz. usage, tax reports, reports for management viz. reports for business analysis, report for cashier viz. end of day reports, sales report etc. should get generated by the system.
- The various categories of collections such as collections for excess baggage, use of wheel chair etc. should be represented on separate screen with the help of tabs on a component.
Some of the system requirements for the POS system included the following -
- The system should have screens and fields to capture customer information such as name, email id, nationality, flight no., lounge service availed for etc. This information would help in customer relationship management.
- Reports which give detailed view of the sales for a particular span of time, the service which is being availed by maximum customers, performance of each lounge etc. should get generated with the help of the system.
- The feature of work list for automating the approval process according to the hierarchical designations should be incorporated in the proposed system.
Some of the systems requirements for automating Claims process include the following -
- The screens and associated fields should be able to capture the requisite information such as name and employee id of the claimant, amount claimed for, reason for claiming the amount etc.
- The system should generate customizable reports such as reports for the airlines viz. claims for stranded passengers, taxis, lodging and boarding etc, reports for employees viz. number of claims submitted by the employee, number of claims rejected / accepted etc.
Implementation requirements state the time frame of implementing the proposed solution as well the cost sharing methodology in case of future upgrades of the solution.
User requirements define the look and feel of the entire system. Some of the user requirements included the following -
- All screens should have a uniform color pattern and the GUI should be easy to control and navigate.
- All screens should be separated according to the functionality they are catering to i.e. say for example the collections screens should be separated on the basis of category of collections i.e. for excess baggage, use of wheel chair etc.
- Option for downloading data onto the spreadsheets should be provided on the screens i.e. any data displayed on firing a particular query should be downloadable on excel sheets.
- Folders should be used for grouping the screens i.e. all screens related to collections including the data capture, report generating screens should be grouped in one folder and all screens pertaining to claims should be grouped in another folder.
Audit requirements are the requirements which state the audit settings of the proposed system so that any modifications done by any user can be tracked easily.
Some of the audit requirements for the proposed e-Cashiering system included the following -
- Change/edit histories for certain sensitive information should be maintained in system for audit trails
- System should also be capable of sending alerts upon certain triggers, e.g. when an application is made in system or when new sensitive data is added
Training requirements stated the requirements which the vendor should cater to once the solution has been implemented at the SATS location. According to this category of requirements the vendor should provide the adequate training and education to the concerned users of the proposed solution so that can handle the system efficiently and effectively once the vendor is done with the system. Some of these requirements for the SATS proposed system were:
- The vendor would be required to conduct training sessions to equip the end users with necessary skills to use the system efficiently and effectively
- The Vendor shall train selected IT staff from the SATS IT division and appointed end users on the technical aspects of the system, in terms of operating, maintaining and supporting it and training the new users.
- The vendor shall quote for training sessions for new staff or refresher classes.
In addition to the above stated requirements some other requirements were also incorporated such as Interface requirements which stated for what purposes the e-Cashiering tool would be integrated with the SAP legacy system currently available at SATS.
Some of the non functional requirements mentioned in the document were as follows:
- The vendor would be required to provide a list of the most frequently asked questions and quick reference guides to the users of the system.
- The vendor would develop an online help module which would come handy for the users at the real time of operating on the solution.
- A system administration module would be designed by the vendor which would govern the access rights to the various users and the SATS IT staff would have access to this specific module.
- The roles and responsibilities of the various users would be customizable and would be in the hands of a system administrator who would be trained to handle this job.
Apart from these above mentioned requirements the BRD also stated the current processes which are being followed at SATS especially in terms of collecting payments, handling claims of employees and passengers and handling the customers who avail for the various services at the SATS Rain Forest Lounge at the Changi Airport.
The BRD also included the assumptions and constraints for developing the proposed system such as:
- SATS logo would appear on reports as well as screens
- Validation checks with error messages would be kept simple
- There would trainings and workshops for the users once the solution is implemented.
The scope of the project was mentioned along with the phases in which the project would be implemented.
Request for Proposal
The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the proposed e-Cashiering system was designed keeping in mind the ease of utility for the prospective vendor(s) as well as the users from the SATS side.
A great amount of research was done to understand some of the sample RFPs from various industries such as manufacturing, information technology etc. and the final RFP was prepared as a well designed assortment of the necessary and important sections. The business requirements which had been formulated while designing the business requirement document were incorporated in the Scope of Work section of the RFP.
Some of the sections of the RFP are listed below:
- Executive Summary
- Schedule of Events
- Evaluation Criteria
- Scope of Work
- Vendor Profile Matrix
- Terms and Conditions / Contracts
- Pricing Table
Executive Summary of the RFP consisted mainly of the overview of SATS as an organization - Its areas of operation viz. in flight catering, industrial catering, aviation security, food distribution and logistics etc. The summary indicated the current processes being followed at SATS and the need to automate those processes with the help of the e-Cashiering System which along with its additional state of the art technological features would act as an elixir in omitting the errors and reducing effort and time in carrying out the current manual processes.
Schedule of Events outlined the various time lines within which each milestone with respect to the implementation of the e-Cashiering tool should get completed. Some of the milestones were:
- Tender Publication
- Questions from Vendors
- SATS response to questions
- Submission of proposal
- Clarification with vendors
- Appointment of vendors
Apart from the time lines various other formalities related to the proposal submission such as requirement for the vendors to sign the Non Disclosure agreement (NDA) etc. were also stated in this section.
The Evaluation Criteria for evaluating the prospective vendors for the e-Cashiering system was mentioned with extreme clarity and detail in the RFP. This evaluation criterion was based on an objective analysis of the business proposals which would be submitted by the vendors. The various factors which comprised this evaluation criterion have been listed below:
- Overall value; i.e. cost versus benefit to SATS and/or its subsidiaries
- Point-by-point responses to the Scope of Work
- Completeness of your solution
- Ease of integration with current SATS systems
- Adaptability, scalability and design of the proposed solution
- User friendly & intuitive User Interface (UI)
- Technical Expertise
- Prior Experience
- Overall cost mentioned by vendor
- Compliance to RFP requirements, including Service Level Agreement
The vendors were asked to provide presentations at the SATS premises to the management committee if SATS.
Some other key considerations as stated by SATS were also included -
- SATS had the rights to discontinue the process of vendor selection at any point of time.
- Prices quoted by the vendors shall be exclusive of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
- Vendors shall comply with all business and technical requirements, standards and guides specified in the RFP unless otherwise stated
- The successful Vendor(s) shall submit a draft Contract within one week of request by SATS, failing which SATS may award the Contract to another Vendor.
- A security deposit would have to be submitted by the selected vendor(s)
- The vendor would required to submit warranties for any new hardware or software associated with the system
- The Vendor is required to provide details of the project schedule indicating clearly the activities for onsite, offsite and offshore development.
Scope of Work included the various businesses, functional and non functional requirements which had been stated in the business requirements document. Some of these requirements were:
- The system should be available 24 x 7.
- The system should be based on a client -server architecture model
- The system should initially be installed on the intranet of the organization, though it should be scalable enough to be accessed through the internet
- The system should be compatible with all standard operating systems such as Windows XP, NT, Vista, and Windows 7.
- System should also have basic relationship maintenance requirements to ensure that certain key data remain intact
- Customizable reports of collections should get generated from the system according to the parameters entered by the user.
- In case of reimbursement claim approvals the approval process should be automated with help of work lists
- Auto reject facility should be provided to reject the claims that have been inactive for more than 90 days.
- Columns should be sort enabled in ascending and descending order as required. Search results should be produced based on certain key words, figures, characters etc.
- The POS system should cater to needs of customer relationship management
- The system administrator should be given the access to add, delete modify the various lists of airlines, currencies, maintenance of specific finance & accounting related data, addition of additional fields etc. Other simple configurations such as items to be transacted should be customizable by the user who is at the counter.
- The system should have strong field edit capabilities i.e. appropriate alerts should get displayed in case inappropriate characters, information is entered in the fields e.g. negative cash amount, negative numbers in sales items, negative number in age field etc.
- The claims section needs to have two subsections-Claims and Approver's Inbox.
- Employees should have access only to the claims subsection, and access to both Claims and Approver's inbox needs to be given to approver/duty manager.
- The ability to approve and reject the claims should only be provided to the Duty Manager in the system. The mapping of the roles and authorities should be such that the system gives this authority to the designated persons only.
- The system should be able to handle the browse and upload functionality for uploading scanned copies of receipts that would be submitted along with the claims.
- There should be a field where the employee needs to enter the name/email-id of the duty manager, to whose approval tab this claim should get submitted. In case the particular approver is absent, the employee can go and edit the name of the duty manager and resubmit the claim.
- The system should provide user login features through encrypted passwords which can be changed by the user at his convenience.
- The system should have provision of a convenient management system to keep proper records of scanned documents such as signatures for easy reference by the operator and also depositories for important documents such as emails or scans in softcopy.
- Permission lists should be incorporated in the system with the help of which only the authorized users would be able to view a particular menu, screen, and component, report etc.
- Segregation of duties should be incorporated in the system i.e. user profiles for each user should be developed in the system and the required roles, rights, permissions etc. should be granted to every user.
- Appropriate incident and change management should be well incorporated in the system.
- User access should be able to control thorough functions and cash, counters/departments, where user can be part of one/more department at same time.
- As a further control point, each user-id created that is left idle will be allowed to de-activate after a period of inactivity of 90 Days. Hence, this helps the system to 'auto-block' such users who may have left the organization.
- Estimated implementation time is 6-8 months in a structured fact-finding, discussion, implementation & testing, followed by a trial period with fine-tuning done with the software vendor as a whole package
- The future development cost and the initial software development costs have to be balanced by the vendor. It should also be noted that a balance must be struck with the vendor that the initial software development costs must be balanced with the future upgrade, changes, template changes, etc that may happen during the course of the software's use.
- All the screens should maintain a uniformed colour pattern and the GUI should be easy to navigate and control.
- The option of downloading data onto spreadsheets should be provided on the screens i.e. any data displayed on firing a query should be downloadable on an excel sheet by use of hyperlinks, icons.
- Report screens, menus should be separate from transaction screens and menus. Use of folders for grouping screens would be helpful.
- System should also be capable of sending alerts upon certain triggers, e.g. when an application is made in system or when new sensitive data is added.
- Change/edit histories for certain sensitive information should be maintained in system for audit trails. Hence, system should also provide avenues for internal audit personnel to assess the system.
Vendor Profile Matrix which has been developed by SATS was incorporated in the RFP. The matrix takes into account the various dimensions of a vendor's ability to provide a stable robust solution within the speculated time limit. The matrix consists of various factors which help to give a clear picture of a vendor's profile. Some of the factors include:
- Corporate Information - Revenue, net profit, Year of incorporation etc.
- Experience - Project experience, Airline industry experience etc.
- Product Features - Product Overview, Years in market
- Information security & Quality Assurance
Terms and Conditions / Contracts as provided by SATS team were added in the RFP. These terms and conditions, contracts etc. state the legal procedural framework within which the selected vendor has to deliver the solution. Some of these contracts include the following -
- Terms and conditions on usage of SATS IT resources
- Service Level Agreement
- SLA for incident management
- Information security requirements
- Application Maintenance Services
Processes and Diagrams included the pictorial description of the various processes being followed at SATS presently for the clear understanding of the vendors so that once the selected vendor starts to work on the project these pictorial representations can come in handy during the As Is study.
Pricing Table consists of a clear breakdown of the pricing at the component level i.e. the table consists of prices that would charged for -
- Software licenses
- Interface for SATS systems
- Project management
- Travel expenses
- Trainings and workshop sessions
- Application software warranty
- Additional training costs
- Total One Time Cost in SGD
SATS IT Audit
IT audit of a firm gives us a clear picture of the current state (robustness, resilience against failure, scalability) of the IT infrastructure of that firm and also helps in designing plans for future implementations of projects within the same infrastructure framework. The IT audit examines the project portfolio of the organization and gives an insight into the priorities and strategic intent of that firm.
An important IT audit framework by the name of McFarlan's framework states that a firm's portfolio of projects and its IT infrastructure along two key dimensions viz. impact on business operations and impact on strategy. The positioning of a firm on the grid helps executives of the firm to channelize investments into the right projects so that the IT strategy of the organization can be in alignment with the business strategy of the organization.
To understand the framework more clearly (in particular the positioning of SATS on the grid) let us take examples of certain key organizations and their positioning on the grid. The first dimension of the grid assesses the impact of IT on business operations. In organizations such as the Port of Singapore or the Singapore Stock Exchange it is extremely important to have zero defect operations with help of IT i.e. with help of mission critical applications which should not fail for even a nanosecond and should produce extremely accurate and fast throughput. For example in case of Singapore Stock Exchange failure of the applications can bring down the securities industry to a grinding halt. The same holds true for PSA where if the applications start to malfunction or go down for even a second the entire global shipping operations can go for a toss since the PSA operations are critical for not just itself but for all the global shippers, freight forwarders, carriers and customers. Thus it can be seen that IT plays an extremely crucial role in the day to day functioning of these organizations and has a clear impact on not just the business operations of the organization but also on its business strategy and thus these two organizations can be placed in the first quadrant of the McFarlan framework called the Factory quadrant. Thus organizations in this quadrant are the ones for which the It projects are designed to reduce costs and improve performance of the operations.
To understand the second quadrant called the Strategic we will consider organizations such as Socttrade, a leading discount retail brokerage firm. IT plays an important role in the running of day to day operations of the firm and also has an impact on the business strategy of the firm since IT investment decisions are made by top corporate level executives to assure business success as well as survival.
The third quadrant in the framework is called the Support quadrant. Firms in which IT is used for supporting the current processes or for achieving incremental improvements in efficiency and costs can be placed in this quadrant since IT projects in these firms have a low impact on the current business operations as well as on current business strategy of the firm. Various manufacturing and consulting firms can be placed in this quadrant.
Project in turnaround quadrant are usually result of collaborative efforts on the part of IT and business executives and emerging technology groups. These projects have significant impact on business strategy of a firm but low impact on the core business operations.
The SATS e-Cashiering system project would lie in the Support quadrant during the initial stages of its inception mainly because of the fact that it would help in achieving incremental changes of efficiency on part of the SATS workforce and help in improving the business processes by reducing the errors (in the manual process) and the time taken for completing processes such as reconciliation, payment collection etc. The POS system installed in the SATS lounges would help in maintaining the customer data and recording of sales and revenue on a daily basis in a central repository so that it can be referenced at any point of time.
However as and when the system would be used on a much higher scale on a daily basis it would migrate to the Factory quadrant and then to the Strategic quadrant. The reasons for this migration would be the following -
- Reports generated through the POS system would be used for making strategic changes and actions i.e. services at the lounges that produce the maximum sales would be identified with the help of these reports and thus would be given much more preference and emphasis while those services which would fail to produce the desired sales etc. would probably be overhauled or take off the shelf. This would help SATS in increasing its top line and bottom line in a much more efficient and effective manner.
- As and when the cashier would start relying more on the automated reconciliation the impact of the e-cashiering system would be much more on the core operations such as reconciliation and collections.
- The increase of efficiency in the collections and claims processes due to the e-Cashiering system would help in having stronger ties with various airlines particularly Singapore Airlines since its stranded passenger claims are handled completely by SATS.
This migration of e-Cashiering system from the Support quadrant to the Strategic quadrant has been depicted below:
Tech Scan (Technology Scan) is one important lens to decide which IT projects should be implemented in an organization which would prove to be helpful in achieving the business objectives which the organization has been trying to achieve since its inception.
A critical aspect which needs to be taken into account while scanning a particular technology is its internet / network awareness, compatibility with the current systems of the organization.
Any technology's rationale of implementation is based on the tangible as well as the intangible benefits which it would be bringing to an enterprise.
These tangible benefits can be in the form of -
- Increased profits
- Increased volumes
- Reduced defects
- Reduced consumption of time.
The intangible benefits could be in the form of -
- Improvement in the morale of the employees
- Improvement in customer satisfaction
- Decreased paperwork
- Stronger relationship with external entities (in this case with Singapore Airlines and other airlines)
- Brand enhancement
Further all the above mentioned factors can put into the following taxonomies-
- External Readiness
- Stability of the technology and its suppliers
- Technology standards
- Perceived business value
- Rate of adoption in the industry
- Skill level required for handling the new technology
- Risk appetite of the organization in handling the new technology
- Impact on current business processes and procedures
- Culture of the company
Thus any new technology can be scanned with the help of a pictorial representation where the readiness can be represented on the Y axis while all technologies can be listed on the X axis.
The internal readiness of SATS for the proposed new system was gauged with the help of focussed group discussions with the concerned employees of the organization and their ability to handle the new technology was thus measured with the help of these face to face discussions. Moreover since the culture of the organization is one which encourages innovation and creativity the ease of implementation of the proposed solution would be pretty high.
The external readiness of the e-Cashiering system would be measured once the proposals are submitted by the various vendors. At this stage the various proposed solutions would be measured objectively with the help of the vendor evaluation matrix and the vendor which scores the highest in terms of all the above mentioned factors of perceived business value, rate of adoption in the industry etc. would be the one who would be awarded the assignment.
Pre evaluation of the Vendors
In SATS there were primarily three services that needed automation. The independent modules being:
In evaluating the vendors it was critical that the expertise of the vendor to provide customized the solution across all the three domains be considered along with full care that there is seamless integration in all the above processes.
An exhaustive list of all the parameters is drafted which shall serve as the pre evaluation criteria that shall help in short listing the prospective vendors. The parameters to be taken into account are the following:
Compatible with the specified Budget
The budget that was set aside for the project was one of the critical factors in the pre evaluation of the vendor. It is of immense importance that the vendors which can serve the solution in the specified budget be only shortlisted. The budget helped to determine the size of the vendor organization that was to be targeted. In accordance with the specified budget only medium size organization could fulfill these criteria. The complete solution, customization of the same, maintenance, training and also support was to be included in the budget.
Core Competency of the vendor
The domain of expertise of the vendor had to be taken in account. It was observed that some of the vendors specialized in POS, some in cash systems. It was important that such vendors be spotted that had an expertise in providing automated solution for all the three areas. This in turn ensured that there would be seamless integration of the all the three systems once the entire system is automated.
The previous successful implementations of the vendors in similar projects were considered of importance. This indicated as to how much the vendor is competent in providing the solution. Experience in similar kind of projects helps as it helps the vendor be aware of the common pit falls and also makes them more competent in providing support and maintenance.
The clientage was taken into consideration. It was observed the spectrum of clientage that the vendors possess at present. The locations of the client were seen. Global clientage helped the vendor to score more primarily because if the vendor client list encompasses clients across various geographies then this shows that the vendor has the potential to provide optimum solutions and also provide apt maintenance. The faith of the global clientage shows the level of professionalism the vendor exhibits
The kind of project teams and resources the vendor deputes on the project is important. The concerned system being a cash handling system so it is critical that the resources are well versed with the latest technology of the safety measures, password protection, access control methods etc .Other important consideration is the way project management is carried out by the vendor as this will include the critical procedures of status reports, timely updates, log maintenance, compensations to the vendor as per the milestones
Support and Maintenance
Cashiering system is one of the critical systems in any organization as it involves handling a lot of cash. The seamless integration of the same with the existing systems so that there is no discrepancy is to be ensured. The downtime has to be minimized and it has to be taken into account what level of support and maintenance the vendor is capable of providing in times of exception or malfunctioning. The system being related to cash so the appropriate support measures have to be laid down by the vendor. The capability of providing the same has considered.
The SATS staff at present handles the entire procedure manually. Upon the automation of the system it will be required that the personnel of SATS involved provided with adequate training so that the transition from the manual system is smooth. The staff has to be trained as how to use the system and not only this but also how to make efficient and optimum use of the same.
Previous references or some documents of appreciation were required to make sure that the concerned vendor has the ability to take charge of the project
Acquaintance and level of Technology Adoption
In such a rapidly changing world of technology it is important to observe the level of adoption of new technology of the vendor in his solutions. The new technology implementation offers wider spectrum of features as compared to the previous. The scoring and the pre evaluation of the vendor took into account the fact the platforms used for development, project management tools, safety measure technology.
Provision for customization as per client
A provision of generic solution does not solve the purpose of SATS. The solution has to be customized keeping in mind the already available infrastructure. The level of customization that can be provided by the vendor is to be considered as it would indicate the efficient operation.
The SATS system is to be transitioned from manual to automated system moreover there exists an already existing IT infrastructure in the organization so it is required that there be an effective change management. This required that the following considerations should be taken into account:
- Desktop/Notebook Client Environment
- Server Environment
- Operating System
- Messaging Software: MQSeries 6.0
- Web Content Management: Interwoven Teamsite 6.5 or later
- Transactional Database
- Data Warehouse
- Network and Security Services
- File and Print Server: Windows 2000
- Reverse proxy for employees accessing intranet web-based application through internet
- Data Centre Operation
- Hardware Specification
- Integrate with the HR ERP system
- LMS to comply with the already existing Plateau system
- Reverse Proxy
- IT security handling procedures
Time Line -Schedule
The RFP and BRD are prepared with respect to timelines that are specified as per the delivery due dates. The delivery was specified based on industry standards of timings involved in preparing the RFP and BRD. The BRD was formulated based on the discussions with the business actors and these requirements were prioritized based on the criticality of the applications and the necessity of implementation. Further the BRD was used as a base and the RFP was created using the legal documentation specified by SATS. The RFP includes the BRD as an appendage. The timeline includes the details on the tendering process.
The entire tendering process happens in phases; once the RFP/tender is published it takes about 6-8 weeks before the chosen vendor is appointed for the purpose of executing the project. Once the tender is published there are about 2 weeks left for all vendors to submit their proposals in the specified format, the proposals come in after certain amount of Q&A by the vendors. The vendors are scrutinized and shortlisted by the pre-vendor evaluation criteria, this happens only in cases of huge number of vendors apply for the project bid. In cases of projects costing higher than 10,000$ SGD require the submission of RFP and hence the rigorous process is implemented.
Vendor Evaluation Matrix
The pre evaluation criterion helps in short listing of vendors from the large pool of vendors. These are the vendors that have the potential for providing the solution of the problem along with meeting the constraints. Post this there is a vendor evaluation framework that helps in relative assessment of the vendors. The framework lays down the critical factors on which the vendors must be assessed. These factors are also given their due weight age according to their criticality in the decision of the vendor. The cumulative weight age of each parameter depends on the scores of its sub parameters.
The future path for SATS in terms of technology seems to the integration of all the processes and divisions with the help of an ERP technology e.g. Oracle Apps, PeopleSoft, and SAP etc. With the help of these technologies processes at SATS could be standardized to a very large extent moreover transparency in terms of flow of funds, claims approvals and integration with external entities such as Singapore Airlines would become a feasible preposition.