Online portal delivers unexpected savings

The Shell Source portal that was initially created to condence three customer portals into one has created savings and efficiencies beyond those envisioned

When Shell Oil Products US and associate company Motiva Enterprises decided to condense three customer portals into one, the objective was to better serve customers.

But the new Shell Source portal also created savings and efficiencies beyond those initially envisioned, says Frank J. Trogus, CIO at the two Houston-based fuel companies. "When you put in a system in like this, there are a lot of unintended benefits," he says.

Shell Source has reduced IT support costs by 15 percent and saved US$5 million annually in printing and mailing costs. In addition, with only one portal to maintain, the IT group is able to do more preventive maintenance on the system. The company has also been able to push content to customers, including gas stations, wholesalers and dealers, through the Web site quicker.

Meanwhile, customers can manage their accounts in real time at a single site. "Success is based on how this is taken up by the customers, and it has been taken up very well," Trogus says.

Building such success took a collaborative spirit between IT and the business units, Trogus says. Still, challenges existed. IT had to link disparate systems, and business units and customers had to adopt standard business processes.

Trogus says Shell and Motiva made a big investment in systems, interfaces and upgrades; he wouldn't disclose the exact amount but says multiple millions of dollars were spent. The system went live in late 2003 "and has already paid for itself," Trogus says.

And even though Shell Source is considered a benchmark portal, Trogus says the system was designed to be flexible so it could "morph into the next generation."

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