Magazine Article | March 26, 2012

Ace Hardware's IT Overhaul

Source: SAP for Retail

April 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers

By Matt Pillar, Editor In Chief

SAP replaced 25-year-old homegrown legacy systems at Ace Hardware Corporation, improving the efficiency of business users and the IT department.

When business data is landlocked by inflexible, homegrown back office systems, IT departments bear the brunt of the strain. So it was at Ace Hardware Corporation, where IT personnel spent the majority of their time fielding requests from every angle, then hunkering down to figure out how to fulfill those requests. At issue were the 25-year-old IMS and DB2 COBOL-based order processing, warehouse management system, and price and promotion systems the company had. Rick Williams, IT director at Ace, puts it bluntly. “Our back-office systems were more an anchor than an asset. They had been patched, enhanced, and tweaked so much over the years that they had become fragile and inflexible.” As a result, the IT department was overtaxed as the rest of the company depended on it to pull virtually any decision support data it needed from the systems. The company also wanted to enhance some of its inventory management functionality, possibly adding back-order functionality and the ability to add a new distribution center, if the need arose. Business initiatives like these were often deemed too expensive and too risky to undertake due to the lack of support systems scalability and the huge expense the company would incur should it attempt to manipulate its legacy systems to enable the enhancement.