Chocolate producer and successful exporter Kim’s Chocolate is driven by automation, it is a lasting strategic project. The regulation in the food industry, the demands of large clients, growing number of audits and the own wish to work more efficient, were the main reasons.
CIO Bob Van Rompuy needs to secure that Kim’s Chocolates keeps innovating: “We are one of the most automated companies within our branch, we anticipate on the demands of our clients and we want to keep it this way. We are convinced that it will stay fruitful and we will secure our future in this way. There is a dynamic in the company, every time we have the imagination to look at our future, monitor our competitive position and to let our department render more through automation.”
Information structures, also in workflows
The administration of the company was already automated in a simple way, but these processes needed to be revised, also because the previous software wasn’t to get maintenance anymore. Bob Van Rompuy: “We wanted to rework our administration thoroughly, find information faster and several workflows automated to extract maximal efficiency out of our fully automated logistics. Also our project become more and more complex because we partner more with externals than in the past. That is the reason why we needed better administrative support.”
Beside did we lose a lot of time to find documents or to share information. Everyone had also their own way to structure information, save and manage. We all wanted to get rid of it. Kim’s Chocolates’ information would be managed more universal and improve the collaboration on documents and projects.
Learn from existing examples
As Kim’s Chocolates did before for other innovation projects, they looked for well working examples on the market. Bob Van Rompuy: “If we see something that we like elsewhere, we contact the supplier. In that case, we can work with systems that proved their maturity somewhere else and use the existing expertise. In this way did we came across Spikes for our administrative simplification.”
After a detailed introduction of the products and the project approach of Spikes, did both parties easily come to an agreement. “we have a preference to work with suppliers who can work on their own forces and who do well in their projects. Spikes gave us the impression that they did and which they proved in the project progress”, thus Bob Van Rompuy.
Software economical in maintenance
Kim’s Chocolates didn’t really look at alternatives, because there are not really on the market. Bob Van Rompuy: “As being a SME, are you good with SharePoint, because the alternatives on the market are only for the multinationals or are extremely expensive to implement. SharePoint is in contrary economical in maintenance and fully integrated with the Office-software. We could respond on most of our needs with standard features of SharePoint. Spikes built the software, causing extra standard modules that reduce the price and lighten the implementation.”
Kinds of information and the role of staff members
The project at Kim’s Chocolates started with the layout of a corporate information model. Bob Van Rompuy: “this is more pragmatic than it seems. It means that our way of work was screened to list our most important information. During the process did we analysed how we want to manage the information and what the information is with the highest importance. We created a matrix of our staff members and their role in the company, linked to the information structure, that everyone has the right license.”
Portal with three components
With the structure as basis installed Kim’s Chocolates a SharePoint portal with three large components. There is an intranet with tens of digital filing cabinets with information of suppliers, clients, packaging, warehouse, ect. Each department manages some of the virtual filing cabinets, within the cabinets are the options limited. The structure is imposed and indicates where and what kind of information needs to be in there. The filing cabinets are connected with each other. From the price request can one click straight to the file of the supplier. All file cabinets have a generic structure to save information when the user hasn’t got a place to do so, otherwise the use would be blocked and this is the prevention.
The second component of the SharePoint portal exist all project information with a diversity of features to work collaboratively. The component is technical ready but is now in the testing phase by the IT department.
FDA regulatory compliance
Same as the second component, is the third also technical ready, but will be introduced internal. There will all information about product development be saved in a structured way. Bob Van Rompuy: “For, close t, all product to we need to pass by the American FDA. The develop process needs to be strictly and fully documented. For the moment, do we follow the process on a paper trail. It is a real burden to manage and nothing can be forgotten regarding to documentation and controls, we expect that SharePoint will make our lives easier.”
Around forty staff members use now SharePoint, they all received a half-day of training. Bob Van Rompuy: “We supplement the base training with our own course materials, short introduction videos and personal coaching of the IT department. Most of them also use the add-on Harmon.ie Email, where you can go straight from Outlook to SharePoint, so you don’t necessarily need to use the website version. Further does everyone has two computer screens, as purpose that the portal is always opened on one screen, for more work efficiency.”
“Thanks to SharePoint is all the information now structured in our system and do we win exceptional amounts of time. We had a good basis for years and now we are at the tipping point. Also, the users should think about the next steps to simplify our administration even more.”
Even more time gained
An example of this is the improved processing of supplier invoices. These are entered in the ERP software, whereby each document is assigned a unique barcode. Once a week, all barcodes are printed, they are stuck on the invoices and the entire stack is placed on the feeder of the scanner. The scans are uploaded to SharePoint via a PDF splitter, with an automatic link to the ERP system. Bob Van Rompuy: “The coding behind this new method was completed in half a day. The time savings and ease of use are enormous.”