Sibelco PO approval


Quick and easy purchase order approval on the intranet and mobile app? That’s what Sibelco does!

An infectious corporate culture, a thorough understanding of the market and operational excellence. Typical of Sibelco, and with good reason. As a global material solutions company, this concern has already been striving for added value and perfection for nearly 150 years, with great attention to human capital, safety and customer care. These endeavours take place at all levels, also in the business processes. And if things can be done better, Sibelco grasps the opportunity to optimise. This was needed, for example, for purchase order approval. Purchase orders needed to be approved in a much simpler way. An IT job right up Spikes’ street.

Sibelco has already been exploiting natural raw materials since 1872, while making a significant contribution to the manufacture of the most diverse of products. One example is the quartz sand from the multinational that is used in cars, silicones, glass, solar panels and more. Besides quartz sand, different minerals are processed at their 200 production plants spread across more than 40 countries worldwide. It is logical for the business to always keep a critical eye on processes such as purchasing. The request to be able to more simply process purchase orders across different devices came from Europe. It was the mission of the business to be able to process orders faster and less expensively. Spikes came up with the strategy and solution.


European search

In real terms, the business in Europe wanted an easier and cheaper way of approving purchase orders. “Things weren’t going so smoothly with our ERP system, and the cost per ERP licence was high”, explains Wim Van Baleen, Communication & Collaboration Manager at Sibelco. A solution was required, in particular to process orders in a more user-friendly and transparent way. If possible this would be by means of an intranet and mobile appliances through ERP integration. Clear language.

Sibelco investigated the market and looked at companies with experience of such integrations. After contacting one or two other companies, Spikes came into the picture. We were not an IT partner unknown to Sibelco. We had already developed a user-friendly communication and collaboration platform for some 6,000 users for them in the past. That was a Microsoft Office 365 and Azure-based platform (intranet based on SharePoint and K2), supplemented by Tasks-in-a-Box, a specialised solution that enabled central task management through the web and mobile app. The collaboration had paid dividends, being a good basis for further collaboration. We could also roll out the European purchase order project because Spikes already had the knowledge and tooling in-house.


From PoC to roll-out

Time for action: the step by step integration of the ERP system with ‘ourSibelco’ intranet. The turnaround time of two years started with a Proof of Concept (PoC), to demonstrate that the plan could actually be converted into the desired result. In the first phase data on new suppliers were integrated in SharePoint and K2. Not particularly sexy, but needed indeed. Testing the connection and stability of the interface, familiarisation with M3 ERP and the SharePoint and K2 platform… the users and business made a major contribution to the project. This interaction was required to successfully complete the PoC and to be better able to estimate the budget.

Spikes then presented a functional and technical analysis and drew up a rule set to approve purchase orders. The rules were linked to the size of the order. The higher the amount, the higher the order arrived at the organisation. This was a technically ingenious solution that worked efficiently for hundreds of end users at Sibelco in Europe.

After the infrastructure had been created at the start of 2017, testing could start in April. Spikes built four environments: one for development, a test environment, a QA (for questions and training) and the final production environment.

You benefit from a successful implementation if you allow your key users to practice sufficiently and familiarise themselves with the new work flow. The teams were soon made ready to go live with internal classroom training for these key users, who in turn were able to assist everyone else. In the South region (Portugal, Spain and Italy) this was around September, for the Nordics

Full of praise about the end result

And then question arises… What about afterwards… Feedback from the countries and users is clearly positive! With thanks to the diligent project team and the structured, project-based approach.

“It was not a simple process”, concludes Wim, “and despite the technical challenges the end result was there for all to see. We are in full praise of the project team that ensured the successful completion of the project. From Steerco, decisions about bugs, approval and change requests… Spikes clearly had everything under control.”

Work at the purchasing department at Sibelco has been considerably simplified. The users approve purchase orders independent of the device. This by mail, intranet or using an app. User-friendliness and transparency won the day. Last but not least: the number of ERP system licences has decreased, so also the costs. Mission accomplished.