Isuzu lifts productivity with Web portal

Old e-mail habits die hard

Truck importer and distributor Isuzu Australia has streamlined its workflow and boosted productivity by implementing a Web-based portal for staff and business partners.

Isuzu has been a Lotus Notes user for a number of years and decided a few years ago it needed a central point of communication with dealers as it was tied down by using fax or e-mail.

Staff operations and IT manager at Isuzu Aninka Morhall said faxes and e-mails often didn't quite get to everyone or they were misplaced.

"We wanted to create a portal environment where they could log in regularly and find any information we have sent them," Morhall said.

Isuzu went to market for a portal and content management system and decided to go with IBM's WebSphere for its scalability and all the availability of add-ons.

The company uses iSeries for Notes and its ERP application, but WebSphere is running on Linux for HTTP serving and Windows Server for the WebShpere portal itself.

"There has been a huge cost reduction in mailing, and productivity has increased through rapid information delivery," Morhall said.

Isuzu also put in Sametime for IM communication with dealers and does project management and collaboration with Quickplace through the portal.

"When I deal with suppliers we put all the documentation relevant to the project online so it's in one central place," she said. "It has milestones, to-dos, and notifications and we have Web meetings and conference calls. People can log in and see the status of the project at any time."

"I don't have to attend every meeting so it gives you that control."

With a wiki, workflow manager and document repository all 65 Isuzu staff now log on to the portal every day.

Some 1000 external dealers have online access to the portal.

Morhall said the portal is "pretty much out of the box" and there are multiple lines of security depending on who you are.

Isuzu uses Active Directory for a separate security system and the portal can do single sign-on.

"The hardest thing is breaking old habits," she said. "Announcements are not sent by e-mail any more, they are posted on the portal and it works really well. We have a large number of people that can publish and create information. All policies and procedures and the library (portal document manager) is a central repository of any file that needs to be kept."

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