Case Story: Bladkompagniet

”A true partnership, not just a supplier and customer agreement”

Jesper Nielsen,
CEO of Bladkompagniet

“If I were to highlight something about Miracle 42, it would have to be our ongoing discussions at numerous different levels – not just the in-house technical side and people who perform the hosting, but also the people who are responsible for us as a customer. My experience with Miracle 42 has been much more like a partnership, not just a supplier/customer agreement. We’ve had constant discussions and sparring in order to make improvements and test new things. This is part of what I value most as a decision-maker,” confides Jesper Nielsen, the CEO of Bladkompagniet.

Read the story and see why Miracle 42 was the right choice for Bladkompagniet.

We have complete confidence in Miracle42

“The most important thing was to develop a partnership with Miracle 42 – they know our needs and our situation. We have complete confidence in them.” When asked about the Miracle 42 partnership, Head of IT Development Tom Hansen explains: “We resolve issues jointly and share a common mission.”

Outsourcing the hosting and operations provides us with flexibility and security

The partnership between Miracle 42 and Bladkompagniet goes back many years, beginning with developmental tasks and Oracle Software. “I guess the first time I became aware of Miracle 42 was 15 years ago when we were about to review all our Oracle licenses. At the time, Miracle 42’s claim to fame was the Oracle universe and their broad knowledge of it. We were really able to get a handle on our licenses and consequently saved a lot of money. Since then, Miracle 42 has expanded its skill set to encompass a lot more than just Oracle.”

In 2015, Bladkompagniet made a decision to outsource the hosting and operation of its server environment. According to Tom Hansen, it was a no-brainer for them to invite Miracle 42 to take part in the tender and submit a bid. CEO Jesper Nielsen explains why Miracle 42 ultimately emerged victorious: “We no longer wanted to have our own servers in-house, but instead wanted a more flexible, supportive configuration. Therefore, we announced a tender to move the servers out-of-house and invited a number of different suppliers. We knew Miracle 42 was a progressive company that also happened to be familiar with our business.” Head of IT Development, Tom Hansen, adds: “What made Miracle 42 the winner was that they know what it means to achieve high operational stability. They take a practical approach and conduct completely open, informal discussions at all levels whenever we experience any issues.”

Sparring about new technologies and opportunities

Bladkompagniet distributes newspapers, flyers, magazines and direct mail and has weathered a fair share of transformations over its storied 100-year-long history. In spite of the fact that it’s a so-called smokestack company that conducts its business in the real world, on the IT front, it’s always managed to stay on the cutting edge and embrace the latest technologies – whether you’re talking about punch cards in 1938, mainframes in 1966, or today’s ongoing digitalization process. “The hallmark of our history is that we’re constantly on the lookout for new ways to do things simpler, better, and more effectively. We examine things from all angles, and sparring is important,” explains CEO Jesper Nielsen.

“In choosing a partner, it’s crucial for us that they’re able to challenge us when it comes to what we could do better or do differently. As a business that receives and expedites hundreds of thousands of orders each day, there’s a tendency to take it one day at a time. Therefore, we need to have some input and sparring, and we get that from Miracle 42. This is one of the reasons why we chose them.”

Demanding requirements for reliable stability and prompt support

CEO Jesper Nielsen describes Bladkompagniet as an atypical, even potentially difficult customer: “...because it’s not so easy for us to shut down for a couple hours or a day or two in order to execute larger tasks – because we never shut down. We distribute exclusively at night, 365 days a year. This places fairly strict requirements on us and our suppliers when it comes to stability, data coverage etc. This also means that development, tasks, and issues must be taken care of very rapidly, regardless of the time of day as otherwise we grind to a halt.”

When it comes to these demanding requirements, Head of IT Development Tom Hansen nods his head in agreement. Bladkompagniet distributes between 200,000–400,000 magazines a day. In other words, day after day, they deal with hundreds of thousands of orders every single night. This is a mind-boggling number of transactions, and the exacting uptime and security requirements for the internal systems must feel like a pressure boiler to Tom Hansen and his team. Therefore, stability on the production side is extremely important to them.

Familiar faces ensure a store of knowledge about the company

For Jesper Nielsen, familiarity with Bladkompagniet’s requirements, processes, and overall business is important and must be preserved: “At Miracle 42, there are regular contact people the entire time, and this has been stable over the years.

It’s important to us that any existing knowledge when it comes to our company is preserved and that the people who support us know how to nudge us in the right direction,” he confides.

A painless transition in spite of the anxiety

Jesper Nielsen, CEO of Bladkompagniet, recalls the transition as an anxiety-fraught situation – from having hosting and operations in-house to suddenly relinquishing control and outsourcing their server platform to an external supplier. However, the close relationship with their partner, Miracle 42, reassured both management and the IT department and convinced them that everything would be fine in the end.

As they were facing an imposing transition and Bladkompagniet’s server platform was about to be relocated, it was crucial for end-users not to be affected. Tom Hansen provides a candid assessment of the overall transition process: “Miracle 42 had a clear idea of what the technical configuration would look like, and they were very professional in explaining how to set it up. It’s gone really well. In fact, it’s been completely painless. No one has noticed that we’ve been through a reorganization process. Most recently, we renewed our hosting agreement, with new hardware and rerouted servers.”

Implementing an open source solution was a bit of an eye-opener

Miracle 42 has helped Bladkompagniet’s IT department develop and modernize the company’s Oracle Applications using open source code. “The entire approach and method used with OpenForms has been an eye-opener. It’s a totally different mindset. We’ve truly arrived in the 21st century and enjoy a much more modern platform today.”

We’ve become more streamlined and agile and are able to overcome challenges more quickly

In the past, Bladkompagniet adhered to a daily schedule with a time window in which no distribution could take place. Today, the presses run 24/7 so that periodicals are ready for distribution each and every night. Practically speaking, this time window has now been eliminated, and Bladkompagniet’s Head of IT Development Tom Hansen explains what this has meant: “As incredibly good planning is required to implement larger-scale changes in the midst of the process, the IT requirements have become stricter, and we need to test certain things better and more quickly. The way we must respond needs to be much more agile, rapid, and streamlined than ever before. In this context, Miracle 42 has been a good sparring partner, asking crucial questions and making good recommendations on how we can improve things – something that we can easily miss due to the tunnel vision we tend to have when we’re up to our eyeballs in everyday operations.”

A small IT department with a big responsibility – how outsourcing turned into a partnership

“We’re a relatively small IT department in relation to the size of the task that we’re to address. It’s nice that we can outsource a good proportion of our former tasks and responsibilities and have complete confidence in our partner to resolve them as well, if not better, than we could have done on our own. This allows us to focus our resources and energy on improving the implementation in-house and not worry about whether the technology actually works – because it does 100%,” notes Tom Hansen.

He adds that the partnership with Miracle 42 developed quickly: “They know our needs and our situation. We have complete confidence in them. We resolve issues jointly and share a common task. It’s a great way to work.”

Bladkompagniet – in brief

Bladkompagniet is a distribution company employing 4,000 delivery people who deliver around 500 million pieces of mail each year. The company delivers newspapers, magazines, direct mail, weeklies, and packages 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Bladkompagniet was founded in 1920 and is owned by Berlingske Media A/S and JP/Politikens Hus A/S.

Bladkompagniet’s hosting and operations solution:

  • check Infrastructure as a Service
  • check Event Management
  • check Active-Active dual-site infrastructure – ensuring full redundancy of the company's systems
  • check Patch Management – the company’s systems are patched on a monthly basis to ensure the lowest possible impact on production.
  • check Backup as a Service – backup data are secured in two separate physical locations
  • check Online DBA Services – monthly inspection of critical Oracle databases that ensure 24/7 operation

Read more about Bladkompagniet here:

www.bladkompagniet.dk

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