A high-volume, high-availability interface to support third party logistics integration

Thompson & Morgan, one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies, needed to integrate their IFS system with their courier company Whistl, using the advanced carrier routing software Route Genie, to enable parcel tracking to the customers’ door.

The Situation

After reviewing interface proposals from available service providers, Thompson & Morgan chose to engage Vanilla Solutions. Being the UK’s largest independent provider of IFS Application services and support, Vanilla Solutions are able to provide extensive choice in their offering. Having worked with Vanilla Solutions on their initial IFS implementation and a number of other adaptive solutions, Thompson & Morgan were already well aware of Vanilla Solutions being a reputable company, with an in-house consultancy team and a cost effective, quality-focused consultancy style.

“Having worked with Vanilla Solutions during the implementation of IFS, and then on some other smaller projects, they seemed like the natural choice.” – Olivia Davies, IT Manager, Thompson & Morgan

The Solution

Thompson and Morgan invited the Vanilla team onsite to host a workshop in order to create a technical specification and proof of concept for the interface. Working closely with the internal team Vanilla Solutions produced the proof of concept application within a short timescale that ensured all parties could process the volume of data in line with target response times. Once approved by the project team, Vanilla Solutions, led by Senior Technical Consultant Robert Mullen, immediately began development of the bespoke interface.

Internal work was required as part of the project and Robert worked closely with the Thompson & Morgan project team to ensure that everyone was involved in the process and that training was delivered to a high standard ready for the completion date.

One of the biggest challenges was the required speed of delivery and the high data volumes. Vanilla Solutions used a multi-threaded windows service to cope with the high volumes of data, running numerous processes concurrently.

“The key design consideration here was the enormous volume of orders that Thompson and Morgan receive – they need a robust and highly capable message handling solution.  From our experience, and having reviewed the standard options available, we decided that it would be best to create a new Windows service that was capable of handling multiple communication threads concurrently.  The client was supportive of us taking this new approach and they engaged eagerly with solution validation and testing.  Working with Thompson & Morgan is a real pleasure for me and I look forward to supporting them further in the future.”– Robert Mullen, Senior Technical Consultant, Vanilla Solutions

The Result

The need for a quick result was due to the level of transactions, over 750,000 in the first three months.

“Rob Mullen and the team did a great job of getting us up and running on time and on budget and we and our customers are now starting to benefit from having tracked deliveries.” – Olivia Davies, IT Manager, Thompson & Morgan

The predicted savings for Thompson & Morgan in terms of time and business cost are highly significant and the project has been a great success. Thompson and Morgan now consider Vanilla Solutions to be their preferred partner for project support.

“The benefit of working with an Independent Solutions provider will always be an open mind to provide the best solution for the customer. Our core belief is simplicity, quality and customer focus and these remained paramount when delivering the Thompson & Morgan solution.  We’ve now started phase 2 of the project, continuing our support of Thompson and Morgan and helping them to extract ever more value from their investment in IFS Applications.”– Jason Belcher, Director, Vanilla Solutions.