Since 1999, establishing an effective enterprise portal had been top of the list of priorities for Alveo, an international manufacturer of polyolefin foams. Its aim was to enable all employees to be able to access all the information and services that they needed for their daily work over the intranet. As a result, they would be able to perform their tasks more quickly and effectively.
Previously, the distributed information processes in place at Alveo did not offer any way of limiting access to specific roles, or of searching for information across the processes. The data was stored on different systems, and this not only made searching for information difficult; maintaining it was also extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive.
The aim: a portal that would grow with the company
The company therefore embarked on a search for a portal solution that would enable the heterogeneous IT landscape, including the subnets operated by the production locations and sales sites in Europe and South America, to be brought together on a single platform. A future-proof and scaleable system was required that would grow to meet the requirements of the different target groups, such as product development, production, marketing or sales. In addition, Alveo wanted to be able to publish information quickly and easily. Further requirements included standardized and user-friendly navigation options, and integration with SAP R/3.
In November 2001, Alveo decided in favor of mySAP Enterprise Portal. As a satisfied user of SAP R/3, it was an obvious move for the company to base its IT strategy on SAP solutions. Further important criteria that led to the decision were the ability to integrate various components into in mySAP Enterprise Portal easily, and the integrated content management. On the basis of mySAP Enterprise Portal, SAP’s partner SLI Consulting AG implemented a tailored portal solution in close collaboration with SAP Switzerland.
Portal Benefit Analyzer: Estimating costs and benefits in advance
The project also saw a debut: Alveo was the first SAP customer to use the Portal Benefit Analyzer (PBA) from SAP (Switzerland) AG. This tool lets a company draw up individual solution options before a portal project gets under way, and to determine the potential risks and the critical factors for success. In addition, PBA supports the definition of the project plan, project scope, and resource planning, enables initial costs to be estimated and a schedule to be planned, and makes it easier to establish the implementation methods. From January to May 2002, SLI used the PBA to analyze all tasks and the costs involved, and to create a detailed breakdown of the costs and benefits. “The PBA clearly shows which processes can be mapped in a portal solution, how much the installation will cost, and what long-term optimization can be achieved,” explained Beat Gut, director of products at SLI Consulting.
After the project started in July 2002, the first step was to consolidate the various internet platforms of the individual production and sales locations. After a five-month implementation period, the Luzern-based head office initially went live with mySAP Enterprise Portal with 50 users. At the moment, the sites in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are being integrated, and by October, around 350 Alveo employees should be working with the system. In mySAP Enterprise Portal, Alveo is benefiting from the key functions SAP Knowledge Management and the related Content Management and TREX as a search engine.
Tailor-made platform makes work easier
The portal is accessed with single sign-on via log-on tickets. As a result, there is no longer the need for a time-consuming switch from one data source to another, or for repeated logging on. Thanks to their individual profiles, the employees have access to all the applications, services, and information they need by means of worksets adapted to the various roles.
In addition to the Alveo-specific business processes, a variety of web services and information are provided that make the portal even easier to use. For example, iViews enable HTML pages and complete applications to be integrated. In addition, cross-enterprise management protocols and reporting data are available to top-level managers. Employees in research and development have access to quality management documents. Production employees can use ASP applications (active server pages), which provide centralized access and maintenance of customer and product data that is not stored in the SAP System, for example. Marketing staff have access to the latest company presentations and product images. A role in iPanel, a navigation tool that enables SAP functionalities to be called up in the portal, offers the sales offices web-based accesses to the SAP R/3 business functions. In this way, Alveo is able to react flexibly to changes in the market situation, and to provide customers with the best possible support. Beat Schwegler, project manager at Alveo, therefore regards the project as a success: “With mySAP Enterprise Portal, we have achieved our aim of using web-based applications with one user interface and centralized access within a defined role concept.”
More time for strategic tasks
The employees are also extremely satisfied with the enterprise portal. Standardized working methods and improved communication channels increase the effectiveness of every single employee. For Igor Allinckx, business unit manager for construction/general converting, and Gret Mathis, application service laboratory manager, the TREX search engine is one of the most important benefits of the portal. “The required information can now be called up directly and centrally. This means that our employees save a considerable amount of time, and therefore have more freedom to carry out function-related tasks.”
With the portal project, Alveo has also set ambitious goals for the future. For example, by 2004 the company will be providing collaboration tools for cross-company project tools. This should help all members of a project team to have the same level of knowledge, and enable them to work in parallel on the same document. In this way, duplicate work is avoided, and process costs are considerably reduced. In addition, Alveo plans to actively integrate customers and partners in the portal by the end of 2003. They will then be able to access all the information they need via the portal.