By Claus Thorhauge
The largest charter airline company in Scandinavia, serving Spies, Tjaereborg (Finland) as well as Ving in Sweden and Norway, makes it a matter of principle to only make big decisions based on cold facts. In two very different contexts, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, therefore, asked NNIT to explore the options of new IT solutions. In both cases, the results were astounding.
Thomas Cook is a joint group of companies, including the travel agencies Ving, Spies, Tjaereborg, and Globetrotter (Sweden) as well as the hotel chains Sunwing Family Resorts and the Sunprime hotels for adults. The head office of the tour operators is located in Stockholm and the joint airline, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, is based at Copenhagen Airport. The group has data centers in both Denmark and Sweden, and this required a consolidation of the Danish data center.
“It would be natural to integrate the data centers of the two countries. We had a feeling that there would be a synergy potential,” says the airline’s IT Manager, Jesper Weyen.
However, Thomas Cook does not base their operations on feelings. Facts on the table are required before any decisions are made.
“It is a fundamental part of our organization and corporate culture. As an airline we are governed by rules. We do not make any spontaneous decisions,” Jesper Weyen points out.
Therefore, Jesper Weyen got together with his Swedish colleague to set up four parameters that should be improved after an integration. They looked at performance, accessibility, security, and user experience. And in order to get an independent assessment, they hired NNIT for the job.
”They were extremely professional and methodical in their approach and we received a really good report showing some of the areas that we should focus on and where we could improve our setup,” Jesper Weyen says.
Thomas Cook also asked NNIT for assistance in a very different context.
Due to acquisitions and mergers, Thomas Cook was working with three Navision versions for different areas of the organization: Finance, the Air Shop (the company’s tax-free shop) and the central stock management. The group chose to take this opportunity to search in a wider market for alternative ERP solutions. This time also with NNIT as a consultant.
“NNIT started reviewing the business processes of the different systems. They carried out qualitative interviews and together we prepared a scorecard with 48 parameters that we prioritized,” Jesper Weyen explains.
He emphasizes that the process was independent of any specific IT solutions because Thomas Cook openly wanted to explore all suppliers and systems that could support the group’s requirements.
From a list of 17 options, NNIT and Thomas Cook chose to proceed with five solutions.
“NNIT set up a session with an analyst from Gartner where they presented an overall picture of how the ERP market may be constructed in the future. This was a bonus that provided us with extra perspective and insight,” Jesper Weyen says.
Surprisingly, the review of the data centers and ERP solutions reached the same conclusion. The result of both projects was that Thomas Cook chose to proceed with the existing solutions, i.e. to proceed with a data center in Denmark and in Sweden just as the group chose to proceed with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, but in a new and joint version.NNIT’s analysis showed that an integration of the two data centers would only improve two out of the four parameters, which were security and accessibility.
“We could risk a deterioration of performance and user experience. And it would be even more expensive,” Jesper Weyen explains.
At the last stage of the process of choosing between the ERP systems, it turned out that there were great savings by upgrading the existing Microsoft Dynamics NAV licenses.
“It was a close run between solutions based on Epicor, Oracle, and the two Microsoft Dynamics solutions AX and NAV. SAP pulled out during the process. NAV is an informed selection and a well-considered decision - based on the business- related as well as the IT-related requirements, not to mention the savings by converting the original licenses,” Jesper Weyen says.
Some people may think that Thomas Cook has not gotten any further. However, this is not the opinion of IT Manager Jesper Weyen.
“We have received some very good analyses and we obtained proof that we are doing the right thing. Moreover, the reports are a good foundation for our continued development,” the IT Manager says. Since NNIT’s analysis of the data centers was launched a few years ago, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia has been integrated in Thomas Cook Group Airlines with Condor (Germany) as well as the Thomas Cook Airlines in the UK and Belgium.
“We, therefore, reconsidered our IT strategy as we went along, seen in the light of the systems used by the new airlines. The strategy base is in order and the choices we have made on the basis of the analyses have actually become more coherent seen in the light of the development,” Jesper Weyen says.
If it is all up to the Danish IT Manager, NNIT will also be a partner on the sideline when it comes to IT in the group.
“We always assess our choice of cooperative partners objectively from job to job. However, based on the results so far, NNIT will also be a strong player internationally,” Jesper Weyen says and adds:
”My experience is that NNIT are very communica- tive and professional. They were quick to under- stand our company and business. And they have a good understanding of how things are related. This was a significant part of the process.”