Broadcaster upgrades retail POS system

Preparing to implement a new point-of-sale system, Doug Walker, general manager of the retail arm of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, decided to ask his peers about their own experiences.

All the reports came back the same, he said, each describing as "horrible" people's dealings with such systems.

"You talk to a lot of people who say point-of-sales implementations are a nightmare, and this one was very challenging in terms of commitment, resources and time," Walker said.

With this in mind, he set out to replace the organization's Unipix system and DOS-based point-of-sale software which was no longer supported.

"This system was implemented in 1993 and had become increasingly frail over time," Walker said.

As a result the ABC implemented Microsoft's Business Solutions Retail Management System (RMS) and financial management. ERP provider Professional Advantage installed an end-to-end retail solution, covering POS through to balance sheet.

The retail solution is based on RMS 1.2, Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains 8.0 and the Professional Advantage Retail Analytics Merchandise Planning software.

Implementation started in July 2004 and was completed in March this year.

Walker said it is the largest RMS deployment in Australia and has gone live nationally across its wholesale businesses, mail order operation and 40 shops. The biggest challenges, Walker said, was user acceptance and maintenance.

"One of the things that attracted us to the product was it was more of an open platform, so we could get our own IT staff to support it," Walker said.

"And we were interested in a system that used industry standard technology as it would be the most familiar when it came to sourcing skills.

"With any project you have to look carefully at what you've got and what you need to move forward, and we tried very hard to find a balance between the two."

User training, he said, was very time consuming.

"I think there was a learning curve for all involved and the retail division had to learn how to use the system, and there were also some tasks and glitches that had to be explained to them along the way," Walker said, adding that phase two of the Professional Advantage rollout is already under way.

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