Step by Step | Article

rock stepsBest Integrated Relationship

1997 Editor’s Choice Award
Brunswick Outdoor/ACS

The relationship between Brunswick Outdoor Group (BORG), a division of Brunswick Corporation, and Affiliated Computer Service (ACS) began in 1995 when Zebco made the decision to outsource the company’s data center to ACS.† Today, ACS manages three data centers and a wide area network for BORG. The thriving relationship also has opened the door for ACS into other Brunswick Corporation divisions–U.S. Marine and Mercury Marine both selected ACS to run their mainframe operations.

“ACS has provided a progression of services,” said Rex Shelton, director of logistics for BORG. “We’ve had phenomenal growth in terms of acquisitions. We utilized ACS† to leverage our information technology costs with those acquisitions.”

ACS services include providing operations and systems support to Zebco’s VSE-ESA mainframe environment. When BORG acquired American Camper, ACS assisted in the conversion of that unit to Zebco’s environment. Later, acquisitions of Roadmaster and Igloo added an AS 400 and an MVS environment to the mix. Faced with the challenge of creating an infrastructure that would pull these companies together, Brunswick turned to ACS to implement and manage a wide area network for that purpose.

“The wide area network connects all of our facilities across the country,” said Shelton. We couldn’t make that happen economically without being able to leverage our relationship with ACS.”

Building a Partnership

Shelton called the relationship a partnership in the sense that ACS has participated in business decisions that have helped BORG leverage its technology investment.† Through the effective delivery of services, the vendor has earned the right to do more business.

“We didn’t bring

ACS in just to run data centers,” he said. “We’ve asked them to help us implement technology solutions that support our business strategies. We look at them as an extension of our internal information technology organization.”

ACS has worked with BORG on other conversion projects, some development efforts and an implementation of Lotus Notes. A major project is underway to move all of BORG IS mainframe environments to a common client-server platform. This project includes re-mediating year 2000 issues in the group’s legacy systems.

“The relationship has promoted opportunities for us to work with ACS on more than operating the company’s legacy mainframe systems,” said Shelton. “We’re now working with them to transition our outsourced legacy environment to a client-server outsourced environment.”

Winner Takes Almost All

Although the two parties have established a common trust, the relationship continues to be tested. As new projects emerge, BORG continues to evaluate ACS’scapabilities in providing new services. Shelton said ACS consistently comes out ahead.

The main thrust of ACS’s contribution is to providing ongoing technology support to BORG’s business decisions, according to Shelton. “We feel like we know our business very well,” he said, “and we are recognized for bringing the best brand names with the best service to the marketplace. BORG looks to ACS to bring the best in technology services. ACS is expected to provide new ideas and to be part of evaluating the impact of our IT strategies.”

The potential of cost savings was what first attracted Brunswick’s management to the idea of outsourcing. That also was one of major elements in their selection of ACS, said Shelton. ACS was the only vendor that understood the structure and needs of the company.

“All the other vendors we evaluated would have increased data center costs by two or three times. The ACS proposal compared favorably to the cost of running our lean data center operations,” said Shelton.

“Additionally we have benefited from the upgrade of the company’s mainframe environments and being able to utilize additional system software tools without making significant capital investments,” Shelton said. This includes protecting our information assets with additional disaster recovery services.”

Staying Ahead of the Game

ACS has effectively meshed with the company’s efforts to maintain and enhance that quality level.

“When we brought ACS in, their “hustle” philosophy complimented ours,” said Shelton. “Those philosophies and their willingness to accept the role of a business partner has contributed to a successful relationship. Our customer base spans from small independent dealers to large mass merchants (e.g.: Wal-Mart, Kmart). They all have high expectations for customer service performance. The BORG/ACS relationship positions BORG to meet current and future customers’ requirements.”

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