Growing Productivity with Mercury's IT Department

Growing Productivity with Mercury's IT Department

Rob LovejoyMercury Air Group's Information Technology department provides IT services to each of Mercury's subsidiary and affiliated companies. The department is based out of Los Angeles, and they are responsible for planning and supporting the company's technology systems.

The department consists of five personnel – two conducting support operations, two working on development, and is headed by Rob Lovejoy. There hasn't been much growth to the headcount, Lovejoy says, but the growth has really been in productivity. "We accomplish a lot more now than we used to," he said.

"We reduce the amount of time it takes to complete tasks (multiple entry, lost papers, inefficient processes, etc), we reduce the errors, we reduce compliance fines, we increase operation visibility to management and customers which does also bring added value to our service."

"We don't make money but we save money – and saved money is worth much more than earned money," Lovejoy said.

He explained with a bit of math: with a hypothetical profit margin of 10%, one dollar saved is the same as $10 earned because it costs Mercury $9 to earn it. So when IT manages to save just one hour a day on a process where 40 employees (on a rate of $12 an hour) do every day, "that savings could be considered equivalent to selling over $1.75 million dollars of services/goods in a year," he said.

The support side of IT keeps things running, Lovejoy said, and it manages approximately 500 computers for Mercury employees around the world. They are responsible for ordering, provisioning, and maintaining the equipment that goes in the server room and also to the employees – laptops, services, firewalls, etc. They also manage a large portion of the software that keeps the various businesses running – email, security updates, desktop support, etc.

Lovejoy pointed to some of the forward-thinking technologies the support team has implemented including Office 365 – the email and MS Office software subscription service that allows the company to pay only for what it uses while staying current (no additional maintenance or purchases) – and the VMWare hybrid cloud, a solution that has allowed the IT department to remain flexible from a server and services provisioning perspective.

"In the 'old days,' when a new server was required, we would need to spend $10-$20,000 on new hardware, order it, wait for it to ship… the whole process could take weeks," Lovejoy said. "Now we can provision a new server in a matter of minutes at essentially zero cost upfront," he said.

The development team is responsible for developing and implementing new systems that leverage technology to solve business challenges, Lovejoy said. In this way, they "bring endless value to the company" by keeping the company current with technology. The team meets regularly with company leaders to prioritize projects, and they also work with outside development first for some of the larger projects.

"One of the most challenging aspects of development is the idea that we implement change," Lovejoy said.

"We don't just wrap a program around the existing processes -- we evaluate the processes, work with the users to discover ways that they could be done more efficiently, and build them into a new system creating efficiencies in as many places as possible," he said.

Some of the projects the development team has implemented include paperless document management (Lovejoy said this alone has saved millions of dollars in time and materials), Casper, the in-house cargo screening application and web-based database system that makes screening reporting as easy as clicking a button, and the Cash Drawer application which facilitates cargo transactions and payments.

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