Distribution of Parts in the Automotive Aftermarket
The Parts Alliance is the leading buying group in the UK automotive aftermarket. The group is composed of ten independent automotive parts distributors, each having branches located across the UK. Together, they provide UK coverage to their local and national customer base.
The Parts Alliance was originally formed as a buying group, having a central purchasing function and little else. It was started as a virtual organisation with no central offices—meetings were held between the principal members on a monthly basis. Over time the Alliance has grown, and it now has Sales & Marketing, IT and Purchasing groups.
The Parts Alliance supplies large national customers with automotive components by using advanced systems such as central invoicing and entirely electronic business processes. They are also the group behind the Alliance Autocentre scheme for independent garages.
"We were engaged by The Parts Alliance to undertake a requirements analysis exercise across the membership, to identify the precise needs and wants the individual members had for a Members Portal," said Andrew Butt, Managing Director of Enable. Common requirements were identified, and the needs and wants were prioritised. A specification was drawn up to reflect these priorities. Enable's Fusion platform proved to be the ideal platform on which to support the individual members. The system has the following key applications:
News and Bulletins allows HQ to keep all members up to date with the latest happenings from a Purchasing, Sales, Marketing and IT perspective.
The Document Management System at the core of Fusion is a secure document library providing information on all aspects of the group including finance, own brand, catalogues, contracts and agreements, customers and suppliers.
Access is carefully controlled and managed so that individual documents can only be accessed by authorised users of the system. The security controls are so flexible that even suppliers and customers have been granted restricted access.
Contacts provides for the first time a central directory of all the key contacts within each member company—available for everyone to see. It even supports a photograph and biography of each person.
Discussions is packed with forums on subjects ranging from corporate info and IT to national customer accounts.
Using the Appointments module, meetings with suppliers can be recorded and made visible to all members which is essential for a buying group of this size.
Specific requirements were identified that were not supported by Fusion out-of-the-box. One of the requirements was a supplier query system to consolidate queries and feedback from individual members, and then capture responses from suppliers and track the process.
These applications were specified separately and created as content-based applications, built on Content Fusion—Enable's content management system.
The portal was launched at the end of 2002 and since then the group has grown substantially. Recently the group invested in a central head office in the Midlands.
Enable works in partnership with The Parts Alliance, and also has relationships with all of the individual members. Requirements are constantly evolving and the purpose and functionality of the portal continues to grow and change.