Writing Samples >  Technical Copywriting

Customer Service Tracking System (CSTS)

Case Study

Copywriter: Warren Goldie

Client/Company: IBM

Copy only:

Word count: Approximately 980 words excluding, eyebrows, title, overview and legal/lockup. Maximum recommended word count for a 4-page on demand case study is 1,000 words.

[IBM logo][On Demand Business Logo][subject identifier—page one]

On Demand Business


IBM order fulfillment system gains the ability to respond to business change with a service-oriented architecture

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Faced with the difficulty of keeping an inflexible, monolithic order fulfillment system current with changing business needs, IBM had to develop a more efficient technology

Why On Demand?

Requiring the application to be resilient and flexible, IBM deployed a modular design that could be modified and updated at low cost


IBM employed a service-oriented architecture that could support the ongoing transformation of the application

Key Benefits

  • Reduced the development time for new releases by 25%
  • Lowered the cost per new system release from US$465,000 to less than US$350,000
  • Increased application usage capacity by 20%
  • Provided ability for the system to monitor and correct its own performance
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As one of the world’s premier IT firms, with US$90 billion in sales and more than 300,000 employees worldwide, IBM assists companies of all sizes in developing and managing advanced information technologies. In addition to providing computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices and microelectronics, IBM’s global network of technical professionals works to create IT solutions that support clients’ business goals and create long-term value.

More than 25 of IBM’s manufacturing plants around the world use an order fulfillment system called the IBM Customer Service Tracking System (CSTS) to receive and fulfill hardware orders from customers, partners, internal sales organizations and others. CSTS is busy — well over 10,000 parcels are shipped daily. As requests come in, CSTS sorts and prioritizes them, routing instructions for preparation and shipping to manufacturing plants more than 20 times each day.


A need for flexibility and accessibility: the challenge

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As IBM launches new products, and new business needs arise, CSTS must be modified. This has been an area of challenge, since the technology behind CSTS is antiquated and difficult to maintain. Some 1.5 million lines of legacy code are custom-coded to interact with many different applications. Consequently, each new release takes about six months and 8,000 hours to complete, slowing workflow and causing backlogs. To make matters even more challenging, programmers familiar with the arcane legacy code are increasingly rare and costly to train.

CSTS was designed to process transactions in batches rather than in real time, a practice that was causing delivery-scheduling delays and limited throughput. Some processes, such as error monitoring, even had to be done manually. These practices resulted in data conflicts and periodic system crashes — and further backlogs. Since the application was such a critical element in IBM’s worldwide hardware order fulfillment process, its inefficiencies were causing significant revenue loss and had to be remedied.

What IBM needed was a more adaptable framework for CSTS, one in which changes could be implemented quickly and with the least disruption of service. IBM also needed to improve the application’s overall functionality, and wanted to do this incrementally so as not to upset operations. In addition, it wanted performance metrics delivered in many operational areas. A redeveloped CSTS application, it was hoped, would be better integrated and dynamic, providing flexibility for change as well more reliable functioning. The number-one priority was addressing the system’s most significant pain points; the remaining needs would then be dispatched in order of priority.


A resilient application offering real-time processing

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Specialists in IBM Global Services Application Management Services designed a service oriented architecture (SOA) for CSTS. This methodology would provide flexibility to support the ongoing transformation of CSTS into a modular application that would, in turn, lend itself to change and enable real-time transaction processing. The team intended to migrate CSTS to the SOA incrementally. Integration was to be streamlined between systems to reduce discrepancies in delivery scheduling. And transaction processes had to be tailored dynamically to accommodate the requirements of individual customers’ contractual agreements and orders.

IBM also wanted to build performance metrics into CSTS, providing system administrators with the data necessary to adjust the rules governing workflow. This would prevent system downtime by data conflicts and bottlenecks, as problems would be resolved proactively. Moreover, the application’s distributed components would be able to offload transactions from the legacy application, reducing the issues that had previously slowed performance, especially at peak volumes.


Using WebSphere tools to build the service oriented architecture

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Teams from IBM Global Services Application Management Services developed the SOA using IBM WebSphere® to break into components the inflexible, monolithic legacy system, insuring that it could be easily upgraded without disturbing the system’s remaining functions. The WebSphere integrated tool suite enabled concurrent, collaborative and iterative development, reducing the time needed to launch new releases of the application.

Of these tools, IBM WebSphere Business Integration Modeler software supported the extraction of business logic from the CSTS legacy code, enabling that logic to be easily maneuvered to accommodate new business requirements. Developers used IBM WebSphere Studio Application software to transform CSTS’ business process software into reusable IT components, Web services and workflow to support the CSTS on demand capabilities. This enabled them to interoperate with the remaining legacy functions and other strategic applications.

Developers tapped IBM WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation software to import the new CSTS system, creating an integrated, paperless development environment—from business process modeling through IT workflow modeling and production. WebSphere Business Integration Monitor software was employed to capture, track and report on the Web services-enabled application’s operational performance in real time.


The result: a streamlined, more efficient order fulfillment system

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The new SOA-enabled architecture provided a true transformation, evolving CSTS from a rigid legacy system to a highly integrated, dynamic environment able to respond rapidly and efficiently to business change. IBM estimates that new CSTS application release cycles will be shortened by 25 percent, from 26 weeks to less than 20 weeks, reducing the cost per cycle from US$465,000 to less than US$350,000. The solution is also expected to increase developers’ productivity and collaborative capabilities, eliminate the need for recoding, increase the use of reusable designs, and streamline communication processes among teams.

The IBM Customer Order Analysis and Tracking System can now be modified or updated efficiently as needs arise; it can handle an increased order capacity; and it can monitor and correct its own performance. Furthermore, system bottlenecks have been drastically reduced, as orders are now processed faster in real time, improving customer service levels. Finally, the incremental method by which IBM transformed CSTS to an SOA environment has proven to be far more affordable than if IBM had tried to replace the entire application at once.

[call to action]

For more information

Please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner.

Visit us at:

[benefits statement (“eyebrow”)—page two]

Implementing solutions that help enable on demand order fulfillment

[callout box: On Demand Business Benefits—page two]
  • 25% reduction in resources required for new releases
  • Flexibility of service oriented architecture enables faster time-to-market
  • Ability to handle increased order capacity
  • Faster operating efficiency due to real-time programming
  • Comprehensive delivery of error reporting and system metrics
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  • IBM WebSphere Business Integration Modeler
  • IBM WebSphere Studio Application Developer
  • IBM WebSphere Business Integration Server Foundation
  • IBM WebSphere Business Integration Monitor


IBM Application Management Services

[end callout][legal/lockup]

IBM Corporation

Corporate Marketing

New Orchard Road

Armonk, NY 10504


Produced in the United States of America


All Rights Reserved

IBM, the IBM logo, the On Demand Business logo and WebSphere are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both.

Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.

References in this publication to IBM products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.

This customer story is based on information provided by IBM and illustrates how one organization uses IBM products. Many factors may have contributed to the results and benefits described; IBM does not guarantee comparable results elsewhere.

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