AXON Ups Bigbon Group’s Game

AXON connects all stores, outlets, and procurement data in an assimilated and accessible manner for one of Malta’s top clothing retailers.

Franchise operator for Bershka, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, Oysho, Massimo Dutti and Uterqüe; Bigbon Group is among Malta’s leading franchise operators in the Maltese fashion retail market.

We at Computime Software are proud to have Bigbon Group as one of our top clients within the retail business. This is why we wanted to find out more about such a success story. After meeting up with Chief Operating Officer Nick Spiteri Paris, we got a better idea about their business journey and why there was a need for an improved, integrated software solution for their outlets.

Representing Inditex, one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, together with their passion for retail, Bigbon Group reached a major milestone once their tenancy at The Point in Sliema was finalised.

Bigbon Group has come a long way. It started out as a small family business in a shop selling women’s clothing in Birkirkara. Over the years, Bigbon Group’s size may have changed, but one underlying idea has stayed the same – the customer is at the centre of everything they do. Nevertheless, with all its triumphs, owning and managing a leading clothing company in Malta can come with its fair share of challenges. This is where our team at Computime Software were called in.

The issues before AXON

Being part of a large organisation, Bigbon Group rely heavily on their main distributor’s software applications. Stock and store information was distributed in many different systems, which did not provide a holistic view of purchases, stocks and sales.

These factors made it complex for the operations team to manage product and finance team to carry out timely and accurate accounting measures. Monitoring performance was also a challenge, since the system lacked the option to view stock and sales data, and a number of processes such as accounting imports, could not be automated.

Bigbon Group needed to move closer and align with their Principals to a JIT system that was able to streamline the purchasing activity which corresponded to actual demand. There was clearly a need for a type of software solution that provided BI reporting across all points of the distribution chain. In addition to this, automation of certain complex processes with financial reporting was also a requirement. Thus, the implementation of AXON came to inception.

AXON provided a viable solution

Once the necessity of an updated software solution was recognised, AXON was Bigbon Group’s logical choice. AXON was able to connect all their stores, through a software application which provided data in an assimilated and accessible manner.

Once installed for Bigbon, AXON was used to automatically consume data files generated from their Principals (sales, purchasing, stock movements, and item masters) and stores.

Once data is pushed to a central repository, it is condensed and manipulated to generate dashboards and reports in Microsoft PowerBI. It is then made available to the management team and accounting staff. The data is also used to generate exports to be fed into their accounting system; Shireburn.

To stay abreast with the changing environment, retailers like ourselves have to mould a new, dynamic industry unfettered by conventional barriers between the different business fields. AXON is pivotal to all this, bringing all the data to the palm of our hands on-time.

Nick Spiteri Paris
Chief Operations Officer
Bigbon Group

Recently, additional integrations were added through AXON to further provide a holistic application environment, through integrations with RotaCloud and PeopleHR. This augmented the reporting data set with information about employees and their working hours as well as shift allocation. Moreover, it facilitated the implementation of additional reports and dashboards to view:

– Employees allocation across stores
– Employee/store performance

Bigbon Group operation’s team is also working on the automation of shipping reports to be submitted to the National Statistics Office.

Solution diagram

A central warehouse solution for the consolidation of data and reporting as well as integration with the procurement system and Shireburn.

Geared to fix the issues

AXON sits on a powerful integration engine controlling the data transformation processes and the channelling of information to different systems with integral logic control mechanisms which are custom-made for each specific project.

This is a critical aspect, since it is what Bigbon Group needed – a system that could amalgamate all their shops’ data in one unified and accessible database. AXON was able to connect their business systems, whilst providing them with full application integration and real-time data monitoring.

AXON to the rescue

AXON is an integration orchestrator, allowing the design, adaptation and administration of referential and transactional data integration, workflows between multiple applications and systems, whether real-time, scheduled or manually triggered. Using pre-built or customised connectors, AXON is technology-independent, utilising web services, database queries and lower-level communication protocols such as TCP/IP or UDP. This can occur between any application or system, whether on-premises or cloud based.

AXON provides an easy-to-use interface where connectors are registered and managed, and transactions are completely assessed and scrutinised. Furthermore, alerting features allow users and administrators to be notified of exceptions or when human intervention is required. AXON provides instantaneous live monitoring of data streams and can activate alerts and data update actions based on events captured from those data streams.

Technology that empowers Retailers

Following fashion means keeping up with current trends. This also rings true for technology, since it too is ever-changing. Investing in software like AXON can have great benefits when running a successful business like Bigbon Group.

AXON’s innovative software is comprised of features that enhance Bigbon Group’s business, in terms of time management, efficiency and ultimately generating revenue – which after all, is the goal of every business.

For more information on AXON or Computime Software, visit www.computimesoftware.com or E: info@computimesoftware.com T: +356 2149 0700.

A holistic data ecosystem empowers faster decisions

Integrating your business applications ensures both transparency and efficiency in your business operations.

Running a smooth operation in today’s world requires a business to be keenly in-tune to the critical systems which keep the business afloat. We are constantly touching data from various applications, and have become very much plugged into and dependent on what this data is telling us. So much so that these operational systems have drastically changed what’s expected of us at the workplace, and the turnover rate of work has increased to a dizzying capacity for a large number of companies.

While this new reality has created a lot of exciting opportunities across the board, it also comes with its unique spate of challenges. One of these, quite simply, is being able to understand and process the intricacies of all of these systems in a way that doesn’t compromise your working routine or, worse still, the very integrity of your business critical data. For this reason, and several others we will outline in more detail below, investing in an application integration solution may just be the best strategic move to grow your bottom line.

Keep human error at bay

One of the biggest risks of being overwhelmed with loads of data coming from different systems is that it exposes your company to human error. In the best case scenario, you might just make a small mistake that you can paper over with a polite, apologetic email. But being forced to juggle and redirect important data all by yourself or your staff – thus potentially overburdening even your most important employees – could lead to more serious mistakes that may leave a lasting impact on your business.

Perhaps, this is the most compelling day-to-day reason for adopting an application integration solution as part of the core technological toolkit within your business. This is where AXON Integration comes into play – it connects your business systems, providing you with full application integration and real-time data monitoring.

Keep a steady flow across all applications

While the technology revolution has ensured that basic data compatibility is a thing of the past, you certainly don’t want to end up with efficiency issues when it comes to transferring data from one application to another, even more so when such a task is just part and parcel of your daily work. If you need to communicate by SMS, email or other means, or if the task requires you to tap into your Customer, Financial or Document Management applications – an integration tool might just be the secret ingredient that you need to streamline data flow and optimise your operations.

Application integration solutions are in fact a perfect example of this. They connect all the necessary systems, data, and processes that are essential to your business, allowing you to take real-time action on your data. AXON provides an easy to use interface where connectors are registered and managed, and where transactions are fully audited and monitored. Alerting features allow users and administrators to be informed of exceptions or when human intervention is required. AXON provides real-time live monitoring of data streams and is able to trigger alerts and data update actions based on events captured from those data streams.

Keeping it flexible, and at a healthy pace

We have already mentioned some of the challenges inherent to connecting your business applications and ensuring the proper data flow amongst these systems. But in this often complex landscape of automating workflows, some benefits also emerge. Among these is the flexibility that comes along with a solution such as AXON Integration.

AXON is an integration orchestrator, allowing the creation, modification and management of referential and transactional data integration workflows between multiple applications and systems, whether real-time, scheduled or manually triggered. Using pre-built or customised connectors, AXON is technology independent, utilising web services, database queries and lower-level communication protocols such as TCP/IP or UDP, between any application or system whether on-premises or cloud based.

As with most tools that facilitate workflow automation, the real winners are your employees. Finally able to pursue more strategic work within the company itself, they can allow the technology to do the heavy lifting for them. AXON ensures that repetitive, frustrating tasks that nonetheless are important and require your full attention in fact get seen to with efficiency and minimum effort from your employees.

Allowing you to focus on what matters

While every business has their own operational processes, the management of data is something they all have to focus on. It is often a cumbersome, time consuming task which needs to be tackled manually, and cannot be avoided. For this reason, making all your data flow in one single system allows you to run a proactive business operation.

In many ways, application integration and workflow automation is a must for any company looking to boost revenue. The obvious benefits of AXON Integration, such as data quality peace of mind and smoother process workflows, are surely business differentiators. But the more long-term benefits are all about a healthier bottom line and a happier workforce, which are the cornerstones of any business of any size, anywhere.

Streamline Your Data with AXON and Gain Insight to Better Decisions

Streamline your data with AXON and help your company get the edge it needs

Data clutter may just be one of the leading causes of inefficiency in companies – whatever their nature of commercial interests. Taking steps to streamline your data with AXON can improve the way your company processes information, which helps smoothen your operations and ensures that both your employees and customers emerge happier from their experience with your company.

Just in case you remain unconvinced about the direct benefits of data streamlining, we’ve lined up a few more reasons in the hopes of convincing you that this is the way forward for a cleaner, quicker, and far less stressful way to work.

It reduces costs

If you need a game-changing reason to take steps towards data streamlining, we’d be hard-pressed to find a more convincing one than this, our number one point – reducing costs.

The universal drive to cut costs and increase profit applies to companies of any type, and data streamlining can actually play a key part in that. By ensuring that all of your data and information flow is, in fact, flowing through the right channels instead of slipping through the cracks, you’re also ensuring that your resources are not going to waste.

Connect your application data with AXON!

It focuses your company’s priorities

Getting stuck on data management for your company is a bit like being demoted to the role of traffic warden when you should be running the police force.

So putting off implementing a long-term system for data streamlining may not be the wisest course of action if you want a company that runs efficiently. It can also be a serious impediment to growth, since tending to the data pile-up stops you from troubleshooting other areas where your company may be floundering.

More depressingly still, letting precious time go to waste in this way also stops you from dreaming up some of the most effective and creative solutions for your company to grow.
So nip the data management problem in the bud, and start looking at ways of expanding your operation to new heights!

It simplifies your tasks, first and foremost

Operating with a fully streamlined data setup means that any and all organisational tasks (and hurdles) that you’ll have to face will be rendered easier and more pliable to quick troubleshooting.

In an age when we’re all connected and reliant on our technological tools to keep running at tip-top shape at all times, it is crucial to ensure that your data is flowing in the right direction. With this hurdle out of the way, any challenges you company might be facing could be dealt with head-on, without the need for you to stop what you’re doing, or postpone important tasks.

Simplification of such tasks basically means that you can deal with problems in-the-moment, apart from having some of the organisational benefits we’ve already covered above.

It will make your staff happier

It should go without saying that a smoothly running company benefits everyone – from top to bottom. The bosses are happy because their overall operation is heading towards its necessary goals, and the employees are happy because the data they require to do their job is relayed with clarity and confidence, allowing them to focus on their tasks without any doubts and ambiguities hindering their progress.

For this reason, and once again because data flow is such a crucial aspect of our workplace experience in this day and age, a company that has made data streamlining its top priority through using a solution like AXON Integration is bound to score higher on the staff satisfaction chart.

Smoother data translates to satisfied customers

The logical and most valuable sum of all of the above is that the benefits of data streamlining will spill over from your efficiently run operation, to the satisfaction of your staff, and finally down to your customers.

Even if they don’t know about the ins-and-outs of your data flow, customers will certainly sense the end result of a well-managed data streamlining setup – project outcomes communicated clearly and with confidence, deadlines met at every turn, and customer satisfaction all-round.

Our Top 9 Tips for a Successful Systems Integration

Our top 9 tips for a successful systems integration – it’s never easy, but it doesn’t have to be a mess!

We have been working on integrating systems for many years now – mostly around ERP, CRM, Finance, and EAM systems. For anyone looking at integrating systems, here are a few pointers that may help:

  1. Review the systems you do have, do a full mapping of what (if anything) is currently connected, and what systems are available.
  1. Understand the communication technologies available (Web services, CSV, TXT files, etc.) within the systems you do have and/or planning to implement – the good news is that most modern software uses webservices, and if it doesn’t, then I would seriously reconsider using it at all.
  1.  discussion on whether you have internal knowledge of the systems you are integrating. Many customers integrate new systems and have to rely on external parties to know how their system is going to be setup, including what all the integration points are. The reality is that you need a partner who not only knows the product you are implementing, but also knows how to integrate within your current environment.

Check out our implementation approach!

  1. Treat the project like an implementation – use the following waterfall methodology but use an agile process where possible (more below), the process should include at least the following stages:
  • Design
  • Build
  • Training
  • Test (UAT)
  • Go-live

Integration projects must have a structure; however it is best to be agile in the approach. Designs are  conceptual and most people won’t understand the detail until you get to testing, therefore expect changes and updates so time block these to stop scope creep.

  1. Consider how the data will be transferred between the systems. Do you want constant live updates, a polled process where the transactions / data are fired across at set times, or even a manual trigger process. What drives the frequency of updates is usually reporting requirements, so consider it from that perspective.
  1. Have a look at the staff available. I would allow for 3 role types to be involved from the client side to include:
  • SME (Subject matter experts) – someone who has specific knowledge in key functions or processes
    • Provide specific details on the ‘as is’ process
    • Explain why things are done the way they are done
    • Support the generation of ideas to challenge current practice
    • Test the ‘to be’ way of working including ‘what if’ responses and reporting requirements
    • Educate, train, and test end users & provide go-live support
  • Process Leads
    • Challenge waste
    • Design and develop the ‘to be’ processes and ways of working
    • Gather and document ‘day in the life of’ scenarios
    • Test processes and ways of working – including ‘day in the life of’ and ‘what if’ scenarios
    • Determine reporting requirements
    • Document the processes and ways of working
    • Coordinate the cleansing of data for their process
    • Propose to the Board the process and way of working including refined business benefits
    • Propose job roles and responsibilities for the Board to ‘sign-off’
    • Educate, train, and test SMEs and End Users & provide go-live support
    • Champion and drive continuous improvement of the business processes
  • Technical staff
    • Understand the technology and how to build connectors
    • Write required reports
    • Write alerts and configurable workflows (after training)
    • Set up and test end users, user groups, and security
    • Amend (if required) connectors
    • Configure networks
    • Administer the software infrastructure
  1. Some integration and middleware solutions offer standard connections for various systems and technologies out of the box. Don’t be fooled, these tend to be limited in scope and will do the basics such as pass a PO or transfer a master item, however you often require something more complex and this is where the value of an experienced implementation partner becomes vitally important.

Check out our Integration solution!

  1. The most successful factor in all projects is having a consultant available who understands the systems being implemented, as well as the integration solution. In fact, without this, the design will be pretty useless and the project will most likely struggle.
  1. Another area to consider is the alerts and tracing of faults. Interfacing will fail at some point, mostly due to bad input errors, so being alerted of issues and easy tracing of the issue, and being able to drill down to review the errors is key. The reporting should handle constant exception based error reporting to ensure your systems are always aligned after Go-live.

Interested in implementing a successful integration project? Get in touch with us today!

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