Making All Data Actionable

January 28, 2013 by Susan Galer 0


photo: SAP

Being stranded on a train that’s inexplicably stopped mid-route is more than just an annoyance for travelers. Efficient mass transit systems are fundamental to healthy commerce, environmental sustainability, and quality of life. But for Belgian Railways, one of the biggest challenges lies behind the scenes: How to effectively manage company’s 2.5 million documents – from engineering drawings and lease contracts to training materials and time registration logs – that are expected to reach 7.6 million, the equivalent of 7.5 terabytes, by 2017.

Belgian Railways transports 261 million passengers and 60 million tons of freight each year. Underneath it all is an explosion of structured and unstructured data for every process from vendor invoices and maintenance records, to technical drawings and employee files. Faced with a maturing workforce and increasingly stringent compliance regulations, the company has embarked on full-scale modernization. The goal is to meet the needs of the next generation of transportation encompassing new workers, railroad cars, and processes.

Belgian Railways originally implemented SAP ERP as its first transformational step. “Moving to an integrated platform on SAP software has helped align our business units to centralized procedures so we have one version of the truth,” explains Stephane Haelterman, project manager at Belgian Railways. He says it then made sense to add SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management (ECM) by OpenText for tight integration between structured and unstructured data that exists across departments in many formats. “We have so much documentation to comply with regulations, ensure quality maintenance for safety, and keep the trains running on time. SAP Extended ECM gives us efficient document generation, capture, storage, and retrieval.”

The software scans unstructured content, recognizes it line by line, and places it into the designated business process. Everyone has a complete view of all documents associated with an activity. This kind of transparency has dramatically changed the user experience, automating processes with ease, and ensuring regulatory compliance – all priorities for Belgian Railways.

Partnership delivers data with content and context

SAP Extended ECM is the result of a close partnership between SAP and OpenText that gives customers more choice through collaborative innovation. Tom Roberts, global vice president of the software solutions program at SAP, explains, “With the solution extensions program, we’re saying no one has a tighter relationship with SAP than certain partners, and we’ll offer their solution and support it on our architecture.”

With over 5,000 joint customers, OpenText and SAP are a natural fit to offer integrated solutions.  OpenText has developed 11 tested and validated solution extensions that allow customers access to unstructured content across their SAP systems including accounts payable, finance, human resources, and procurement. Their flagship solution is SAP Extended ECM by OpenText.

Next page: What are the benefits?

Since the solution extensions are proven to work with a customer’s SAP Business Suite and aligned with SAP’s application management lifecycle, there’s shorter time to value, says Patrick Barnert, senior vice president for partners and alliances at OpenText. “Customers don’t have to build their own integration, and they receive automatic upgrades as SAP releases enhancements because we are innovating so deeply together.”

Barnert points out that integration benefits every department. For financial audits, companies have all documentation associated with journal entries in one place for streamlined accessibility. In procurement, the solution scans invoices, extracts all relevant data, recognizes the business rules, and checks credits, giving the CFO complete transparency into liabilities to automatically reduce risk. Marketing can manage images, videos, and all digital assets for campaigns in one place. Human resource departments can access local employee records in compliance with in-country regulations.

A 360-degree view of all relevant information

Originally designed to extend the on-premise SAP Business Suite, solution extensions are evolving in synch with SAP innovations including cloud, SAP HANA, and mobile. For example, OpenText is working in the SAP HANA Lab in Munich on use cases that combine the capabilities of SAP HANA with the unstructured world. “We want to provide customers with a 360-degree view of all relevant information,” says Barnert. “If we have structured SAP data and transactions, how can we tie that back into the unstructured content? Customers want to see all the correspondence they have with their customers from everywhere, so they can enhance the engagement.”

OpenText is also using SAP’s mobile technologies to build apps that access employee files. These will allow employees and managers to share performance records on the iPad. Managers on the road can manage invoices, triggering work flow directly from their mobile devices to approve and flag issues, reducing risk while streamlining processes.

As for the cloud, OpenText provides archiving capabilities as well as OCR (optical character recognition) and document analysis that transfers data from paper invoices into SAP Travel onDemand, the company’s cloud-based travel and expense solution. Future plans include further integration of ECM capabilities with SuccessFactors and Ariba, SAP’s cloud acquisitions.

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