Enterprise Rent-A-Car drives service request app

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is revamping its IT operations with a new business process management (BPM) application aimed at automating its internal service request system.

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A deeper look at business process management

The St. Louis, Mo.-based car rental company, which maintains more than 6,900 locations worldwide (including many in Canada), has recently gone live with preliminary upgrades to its Request Online system – an in-house application developed to assist its Request Services Department in handling product and service requests. Vienna, Va.-based Appian Corp. partnered with Enterprise in the project and used its Web-based Appian Enterprise BPM suite to help with the system’s implementation.

Pat Steinmann, Enterprise’s IT manager, said the updated BPM-based Request Online system is streamlining all the IT servicing processes for the rental company and helping to replace an inflexible legacy system. She said that every request, which can range from a simple replacement laptop all the way to the opening of a new rental branch, is handled by the request services department. Over the past decade alone, Steinmann said, Request Online has gone from servicing 15 different request types to over 200 IT requests.

“With our old system, when a request was submitted it was like being on a piece of paper,” Steinmann said. The legacy system used an ASP front-end over the Intranet. Enterprise employees requiring service would select the type of help they needed and manually fill out a service form to generate an e-mail report. The request was then sent back to the IT department to be dealt with manually.

“Nothing was integrated into any system and because every request just generated an e-mail, I ended up having a team of people that literally just sat there and manned an Outlook mailbox to respond to request tickets,” she said.

Steinmann said that because Enterprise aims to give its field branch managers as much autonomy to run their business as possible, the IT team needed a service request system that could deliver quick and easy support without the hassle.

“The premise of automating service delivery requires that whatever is submitted is something that can be acted upon,” she said. “Being able to filter and limit what an employee will see and guide them into only requesting things that are available to them was a huge need for us. For example, we’ve got 500 software titles that we support, but not every title is available to every person, so there was a need to guide the submission process and integrate that with all of our other back-end systems.”

And to negate the need for branch managers to manually fill out information – such as employee names, shipping addresses, or asset and product information – Steinmann said almost everything is generated automatically and, in most cases, end-users simply have to point-and-click to make selections.

With some of the other BPM implementation projects Appian has worked on, the company cited time and cost savings of between 15 to 20 per cent – mainly around administrative and manual data entry activities – for some companies. The BPM service provider expects positive results for the Enterprise migration as well.

According to Malcolm Ross, director of product management at Appian, his company’s experiences with the Enterprise upgrade was atypical of most BPM implementations.

“Establishing a BPM practice is as much a methodology as it is a product,” he said. “We often tell customers to start small and think big. Enterprise did the opposite and started big in trying to develop the application in-house.”

Ross said that while Request Online was a very aggressive project for Enterprise to take as its first BPM undertaking, the company is now achieving success in continuing to build on the project and better enabling change of its processes. Steinmann said the automated process allows for Enterprise to redeploy its IT resources to aspects that are more strategically valuable than managing an outdated system.

“We are now taking our software engineers away from designing forms and they are focused on the heavily lifting of the application itself and how it integrates with our systems,” Steinmann said. “It’s a much better usage of our resources and, ultimately, allows us to focus more on system functionality and grow our department in the future.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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