Aldo Group Ltd. has enlisted IBM Canada Ltd.‘s Business Consulting Services (BCS) to bring its business processes to a more effective, start to finish cycle.

The agreement,

worth close to $13 million will involve bringing Aldo to a Retek environment, a supplier of collaborative software solutions for the retail industry.

The relationship between Montreal-based Aldo and IBM began at the end of 2001. Some of Aldo’s smaller banners, including Pegabo, Calderone, Globo, and Stone Ridge, were running on Retek 8 and the company was looking to bring its big banner into a customized Retek system, explains IBM Project Manager Nicole Levasseur.

“”[Aldo] asked IBM to do a scope and approach to move to from AS/400 to Retek 9, as well as critique the business processes of the Retek 8, and harmonize to one platform and one system that will be the same from the U.K. to the U.S., and Canada,”” says Levasseur.

The company needed to replace a nearly 20-year-old legacy system, and was sold on a tailor-made Unix-deployed Retek software, explains Michael Jones, CIO, Aldo. “”(Retek) is a package that has its own functionality but we’re not simply dropping it into the business,”” he says. “”We’re making changes to match our business needs in terms of our supply chain, and we’re tailoring the software to do exactly what we want it to.””

The Aldo-specific Retek 9 focuses on three components: merchandising with a subcomponent for transportation for import and export, inventory for shipping and receiving, and a data warehouse for statistics/reports. IBM began its design phase in mid-January of 2002, with two objectives in mind: to harmonize and to keep system changes to a minimum for the future.

In its newest agreement with Aldo, IBM began its configure phase at the end of December last year. “”Through 2003, IBM is going to perform cycles of testing to make sure that, from the unit to the integration, we obtain the business acceptance of the solution that has been put together,”” says Levasseur. The deployment will begin in 2004 and run through 2005 in three rollout phases through Aldo’s entire 450 store banner.

“”We’ll have a few banners go live with full functionality and then have a lapse of time to make sure everything is stabilized before proceeding with the second rollout,”” says Levasseur. “”We also have from 400 to 500 personnel to train, and we want to make sure they have the proper training and proper support post-implementation.””

According to Jones, the upgrade will allow Aldo to keep a closer eye on inventory — particularly products that are in transit — and be able to analyse store demand through reports generated by the data warehouse. “”To have the right product, at the right time, at the right place is our objective, and we expect the system to do a lot of those things for us,”” he said

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