Of the Home Depot Co
CIS319
Maurice Purvis
April 31, 2004

Group Collaboration Software of the Home Depot Company
To keep up with growth, Home Depot needed an information-management
framework that would let district managers’ access information more quickly
so they could make better decisions and function more autonomously. The
solution was also required to integrate data about sales, inventory, store
productivity, and staffing from proprietary programs operating on different
platforms. Finally, the Home Depot solution needed the flexibility to
enable partners, suppliers, and customers to take advantage of the new
system through an extranet.

Using Netscape software, Home Depot is deploying a variety of
applications to address these requirements. The first application, Virtual
District Office, puts up-to-date information at regional managers’
fingertips. No matter where they are, district managers with authorized
access can search personnel directories; use applications on Home Depot’s
network; and get dynamically updated store-performance reports, sales data,
labor hours, and inventory statistics published by Netscape Enterprise
Server – all in real time.

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To monitor performance data, information is posted continually to a
central repository. This enables a salesperson at a store’s information
desk to tell a customer when a special order will arrive or whether another
store has a particular item. It also lets a vice president at corporate
headquarters in Atlanta check weekly sales for a certain district based on
virtually up to the minute data.

Netscape Directory Server provides the foundation for these
applications. Using the directory, Home Depot now has more control of
critical decision-making data yet requires less time and labor to keep
current. The central directory also helped speed development: The Virtual
District Office data-retrieval network was created in about six months by
just four developers.

In accordance to the directory providing the underlying infrastructure
for multiple applications, its performance, reliability, and flexibility
were critical selection criteria. For example, high performance was
necessary for the directory to service multiple applications across
hundreds of stores simultaneously. Reliability and high availability were
necessary because if the directory were to go down, all the applications
relying on it would also go down. Finally, the directory needed to be
flexible enough to adapt to the various demands and capabilities of
different users and applications. Directory Server allows us to set very
granular authorization levels. For example, associates in training can
reorder stock, but the transaction requires manager approval because of the
trainee designation in the directory.

The Home Depot based its application development on open Internet
standards, which increased the flexibility of the applications to enable
their eventual deployment over extranets. Using Java as the common
development language, made development significantly faster than when we
were developing in several languages. Because all the code now resides on
the server, deployment and maintenance are also much easier than with
traditional client-server applications. The GUI interface based on Java
makes applications easy to use, and make it easy for Home Depot to extend
parts of its intranet to an extranet for partners and customers outside the
company.

The new centralized infrastructure and Virtual District Office
application allow Home Depot’s staff to make better decisions faster with
much less effort. The Virtual Office application decentralized,
dramatically improved management, and increased autonomy for managers. It
is now providing better support than ever for district managers and sales
staff. It also provides a foundation flexible enough to scale to new
requirements as the company continues to grow. In the next phase of the
project, Home Depot will work with Netscape Professional Services to
introduce self-service applications that customers can use in stores and on
the World Wide Web.

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