Document management and simplification of communication
At an internationally active company in the field of metal processing, which operates as a manufacturer and supplier of sheet metal components for industry, a number of processes were to be digitized and partially optimized in order to simplify communication and streamline processing. The following topics, among others, were identified in a joint workshop:
- Distribution: The so-called container projects include customer-specific changes to the standard models that are to be delivered in individual deliveries over a specific period of time. For these container projects, it is important to ensure the delivery in accordance with the respective order, which includes these special requests, on time. A form entry and an automatic workflow should be set up. The tracking of changes to the orders should be made transparent for all team members.
- Marketing and sales: Information on products should be accessible by filtering by category and product group. It must be possible to assign technical data, images and documentation to the individual product families automatically.
- Approval of orders: Orders are to be approved in a two-stage process that includes a commercial and a technical check: Orders from Sage’s ERP software are to be checked in SharePoint in the same way as the invoice receipt workflow.
- Incoming invoice check: During the incoming invoice check, an automatic transfer to Sage including storage of the scanned invoice in SharePoint, check workflow and check against the approved order should take place.
- Development projects: When designing and developing new products, the respective teams must be organized so that no information is lost in the course of communication. In the case of the communication that used to take place via e-mails with attached documents, the current status was often not comprehensible due to the different versions of the documents sent.
- Corporate intranet: Telephone lists, office plans, corporate information, etc. should be available for quick access via a central site.
A large part of the processes should be outsourced to Microsoft Teams in order to offer a uniform platform for company-internal communication and the disadvantages of e-mail use (e.g. that important information is only available in the mailbox of a single colleague, or that a document is sent as a file attachment and forwarded several times, and so different versions of it are in circulation).
Not all issues could be tackled at the same time. In coordination with the customer and taking phases with changing utilization into account, the handling of the container projects was initially scheduled in the first project phase:
Microsoft Teams proved to be the optimal platform for managing the container projects.
A teams channel is created for each container business, in whose files area the order form with all specifications is stored. The communication on the individual processes takes place in the chat area of the respective channel. Changes to the order can be tracked live in Teams via activities (the automatically generated messages in the relevant feed/channel).
The conceptual phase for the other areas has also been completed, and the remaining topics will be implemented as soon as the customer’s workload allows:
A solution similar to that for the container projects is to be implemented for the development projects. There should be a separate team channel for each new product, in which the specification file is managed and all communication related to development takes place.
Customer-specific forms based on SharePointOnline are planned for the approval workflows for orders and invoices. Incoming orders or invoices should, if necessary, be digitized and sent as a file attachment by email to the mailbox set up accordingly. A form linked to the file will contain fields for the metadata of the order or invoice as well as selection buttons for the two-step approval process. It should only be possible to complete the respective process in the system once all the information and checks have been completed.
A solution with SharePoint Online will also be implemented for the categorized filing of product documentation for sales.
The intranet site is also to be set up with the help of SharePoint Online: telephone lists, office plans, etc. are then stored in document libraries, and the SharePoint filter and search functions help to find information.
The processes implemented directly on the SharePoint are linked in Microsoft teams and can therefore be quickly accessed by those involved at any time.
In addition to the software-side implementation, attention is also paid to the introduction of IT governance in order to create a regulatory framework for optimal support of corporate goals by IT. These are process structures and organizational specifications for the infrastructure so that the tools used can be used efficiently by everyone. For example, information and data proliferation, inefficient use and the insecurity of internal data should be avoided.
This is what the customer says:
“Since the beginning of the corona pandemic in 2020, the use of teams as a cross-device and cross-system, uniform communication solution in our company has been strongly promoted.
The experts from Locatech supported us here in a crucial phase of the introduction with external knowledge and consulting experience and, in cooperation with our organization, created detailed solution proposals for specific problems presented.
The implemented first project phase of the container projects in Microsoft teams has proven to be a stable solution in practice, which was well received internally by colleagues and is now used in full for all orders of this type”.