When we stop by our local Kwik Trip to grab a snack or maybe a lottery ticket, we don't think about how much data is moving behind the scenes to keep the regional chain of convenience stores running smoothly.
Tom Fiebelkorn, a programmer analyst at Kwik Trip's corporate headquarters, thinks about that data all day long.
Kwik Trip primarily utilizes an IBM i (iSeries) for its information system, which communicates with a variety of other platforms. When Fiebelkorn first joined the IT staff, he spent much of his time writing an RPG program that could integrate with an SQL server database to deliver and retrieve the data he needed.
One of his top priority projects is managing secure data transfers between Kwik Trip and all of the states' Departments of Revenue. Whether sending fuel tax reports, cigarette and tobacco taxes, or other required information, Kwik Trip's IT staff was spending a significant amount of time keeping the right files going to the correct recipients.
Enter GoAnywhere, a Managed File Transfer solution purchased by the company and used by Fiebelkorn and the other IT staff. GoAnywhere was able to organize the workflows and communicate effortlessly with the IBM i to send and track statuses of the files needed for the Revenue Departments.
"It takes much less time with GoAnywhere," Fiebelkorn says. "A GoAnywhere project can read the data from our IBM i and put it into an XML file, or retrieve an XML file and then write the data from it. It makes my job easier."
Kwik Trip uses GoAnywhere as the workhorse, completing projects scheduled by the IBM i. One such project is a quarterly update of customer addresses.
GoAnywhere pulls data from the IBM i, converts it to a CSV file, sends it to an outside business partner who reviews the addresses and makes corrections, and then GoAnywhere retrieves the updated CSV file and reconciles the updated information back into the DB2 database.
Kwik Trip is primarily using GoAnywhere to securely and efficiently exchange files with outside trading partners, but Fiebelkorn sees the potential to incorporate it into internal communications, too. Right now, a typical usage analysis shows that the IT staff used GoAnywhere to complete more than 500 jobs in a single day, and almost 20,000 projects a month. These projects include zipping files, reading and writing multiple file formats, processing email notifications, as well as managing file transfers.
"I love that the GoAnywhere products are portable across platforms," Fiebelkorn says. "I also appreciate how much easier it is to connect with external business partners using FTP and SFTP because so much of the work is already done by GoAnywhere behind the scenes."
Fiebelkorn says he likes that GoAnywhere supports multiple alternatives for secure file transfer, like FTP/S, SFTP, HTTP/S, AS2 and more. He's also glad to have the error notification features that help him more quickly identify and address any glitch in the file transfer process.
And when it comes to support, Fiebelkorn give the Linoma Software [now HelpSystems] team very high marks.
"Whenever I call, I'm always speaking with someone who knows the product. I don't get the runaround, with promises that someone will call me back," he says. "They give me the answers I need and it never takes very long. That's nice."
Kwik Trip, Inc. is owned by the Zietlow family and opened in 1965. Kwik Trip is unique in the convenience store industry because it maintains total quality control over a wide variety of products by producing and packaging these items in their own state-of-the-art facilities.
In addition to the corporate support center, which handles the administrative needs of its more than 400 stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa (under the KwikStar brand), Kwik Trip has its own bakery, commissary, dairy, distribution warehouse and vehicle maintenance divisions. It also supplies fresh baked goods, sandwiches, bread, and milk to stores throughout the region 365 days a year.