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Amigo Solutions was started in February 2003 by Marlon de Silva and Ben Rickards. A working history of the Amigos follows...

Marlon de Silva

 

Marlon joined Clints Crazy Bargains in 1992, as an IT technician. Marlon worked in a general IT support role across the company Head Office, with a focus in the Logistics, Shipping, Finance, and Buying teams. His duties included technical support, desktop rollouts, network maintenance & administration, report writing, data analysis, and minor enhancements to both processes and systems.

Marlon then joined a project to implement Point Of Sale into the business, which involved establishing processes & interfaces across the company to deal with Comms, Barcodes, Sales Analysis, and a pilot Point Of Sale system.

Marlon left this project to step into a more general projects role, during which time he contributed to a number of areas in the business, including Stocktaking, KPI work, opening a Distribution Centre in Victoria, building Purchase Order systems, and other major implementations, and process enhancements. His responsibilities in these projects stretched right across the entire project cycle, including Business Analysis & Requirements Capture, System Design, Software Development, Testing, Training, Deployment, and Support. During this time, Marlon also spent some time buying products, and organising the replenishment of the Electronic Products category.

In 1999, Marlon moved into the position of Support Manager within the IT department, where his primary focus was providing guidance and mentoring to the IT support team, (which consisted of about 10 individuals), and participation in business improvement projects, including modification of existing systems to cope with Multi-Warehouse and Multi-Location logistics, the establishment of another Distribution Centre in Brisbane, and the systems integration of an acquired business in far north Queensland.

A restructure of the IT department saw Marlon step into the role of Software Services Manager, where he was responsible for the development, maintenance and support of the entire application suite for the business, managing a team of six developers. In this role, his operational responsibilities included Service Level Management, Problem Management, Performance & Capacity Management, Configuration Management, and Change Management.

Some of the successful projects also undertaken during this time included the introduction of a Middleware layer into the general IT architecture, a delivery of a formal Software Development Life Cycle, Payroll Time & Attendance at the stores, a 4-Tiered Product Hierarchy rollout, a DC relocation, and Supplier Pick & Pack automation.

In 2002, Marlon took on the responsibility of managing the Information & Application Services team, which includes most of the responsibilities as Software Services Manager, with the added responsibility of the Data Warehouse operational team.

Since the formation of Amigo Solutions, Marlon has led a project that has successfully implemented the CBA Accounting Package into a joint venture wholesaler based in Southern China (Uncle Bills International).

 

Ben Rickards

 

Ben studied for four years at Charles Sturt University in Albury after completing high school, graduating with a Bachelor of Information Technology in 1993 and a Bachelor of Business in 1994.

Ben joined Clints Crazy Bargains in December 1994. Ben joined a project to implement a PC based point of sale system and was managing a team that was implementing the POS system rapidly into stores fortnightly within a year. Ben then worked as a business analyst on a project to implement new systems to much of the company. It was from his role in this  project that Ben was asked to join the Merchandise Team in a Branch Merchandise Planning role. In a company that had no concept of Merchandise Planning and in a new role that was introducing a form of planning to the business Ben implemented a complex budgeting systems for store replenishment to manage the store inventory levels. He ran and refined this system for two years before Clints was bought out by The Warehouse, a company that had a well entrenched merchandise planning system for their Buying team. With a short introduction to The Warehouse’s Planning system (which was Excel based), Ben adapted and implemented the planning system into the Australian business. With no formal background in Merchandise Planning, Ben introduced Merchandise Planning to the Australian buying team, and single handedly managed all of the company’s Merchandise Planning for the first year. As the, as the merchandise planning team grew, Ben refined his planning skills by learning from a number of very experienced planners who had joined the team. During this time Ben was also heavily involved in the implementation of a four level product hierarchy from the business side as well as developing his reporting and sales analysis skills. Since the formation of Amigo Solutions Ben has worked on a Product Hierarchy for a joint venture wholesaler based in Southern China (Uncle Bills International). Ben has also worked in the area of payroll and timesheet systems in this time.

 

Hey, Ben! What does Merchandise Planning mean?

 

Merchandise Planning is one of those roles that can mean completely different things in different organisations. Put in a generic statement, Merchandise Planning is a role concerned with the analysis of stock flow, sales, profit and inventory levels to assist buyers within a retail or wholesale organisation with quantification, ranging and purchase decisions. The skills learned in a Merchandise Planning role are particularly useful when combined with good knowledge of the Microsoft Office tools (especially Excel) if yo8u wish to turn data into information.