Ericsson by: Spreckley Partners Ltd

Company: StaffwareCustomer: EricssonSubmitted by: Spreckley Partners LtdThere are few constants in today’s fast changing business environment but there is one that is guaranteed and that is change itself.The telecommunications sector is one of the fastest moving markets in the world today. Change has become a constant. Competition, convergence, and increased market liberalisation are just a few of the market forces driving the sector. One thing is certain – the speed of change demonstrates a clear and overwhelming need for ever increasing cost efficiencies, improved business processes and enhanced information control.Ericsson is a world leader in the telecommunications sector – a key player in both the mobile and fixed line markets.

Employing in excess of 100,000 people, Ericsson has a presence in over 140 countries worldwide.It is an organisation undergoing considerable change, refocusing its core business processes away from being a product-centric to a customer-centric business. For Ericsson the guiding mantra in this process is to refocus the company not only because of change but also in readiness of more change yet to come.At the very heart of this drive to improve existing business processes is the Finance 2000 initiative.

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Automating Business Processes

Ericsson UK identified a number of customer facing business processes which were supported by a number of shared internal resources – finance, human resources and provisioning to name but a few. It was these core business processes, which affect all 3000 employees, that were identified as essential to automate.

The company recognised that in order to not only improve levels of efficiency but to effectively refocus the business on the customer, these business processes had to be automated. The migration from a manual, paper based office administration to a fully automated data and document collection system was viewed as vital to ensure the accurate and timely dissemination of information throughout the organisation and beyond.”Documents – and the distribution of documents – is an integral part of the Staffware based workflow management system,” states Mike Casey, Finance Director, Ericsson UK. “Ericsson had identified the need to improve the way we distributed information throughout the organisation and via Staffware we needed to simplify and rationalise those existing processes to enable us to change the way we worked both individually and as a company. This means working smarter not harder.”

The Finance 2000 initiative

Ericsson UK identified the purchasing department as the first application to be workflow enabled under the Finance 2000 initiative.

A highly complex business process within Ericsson, the purchasing department has numerous interfaces and business process flows both internally and externally to the organisation. Automating the existing business processes was an essential first step.”Up until now those business processes within the purchasing department were highly time consuming,” said Mike Casey. “This meant staff spent more time worrying over the accuracy of information rather than actually doing the job in hand.”Historically staff were often faced with the situation that goods were procured without Purchase Orders and this hit the organisation as it denied them the opportunity of maximising the company’s buying power.But it was not only the bottom line that was hit.

Being a paper based system there were often hold ups between the purchasing department and the procurer themselves as the paperwork was checked. Only then could accurate and complete data be entered and stored.When invoices themselves were received in the purchasing department the paperwork still did not cease. All invoices had to be approved by the relevant requisitioner. This meant that a photocopy of the invoice was issued to that individual prior to processing and eventual payment.Both internally and externally this situation was far from satisfactory.

Not only did Ericsson UK fail to make economies of scale in procurement but relationships with suppliers were potentially difficult.

Web Based Document Management

Staffware workflow has provided the solution – the backbone to a web enabled document management system that will eventually be rolled out throughout the enterprise.Paper – and the systems it spawns – has been banished. In its place Staffware workflow management technology today ensures the accurate control and dissemination of electronically generated and stored documentation.Purchase orders are now generated electronically via a corporate intranet which can now be managed centrally thereby improving the buying power of the company. All forms have to be thoroughly completed – failure to do so now results in rejection of that request.

To support this process still further Ericsson has instigated a system whereby no purchase order, no order and therefore no payment.Incoming invoices once they reach accounts payable are immediately scanned into the system, based on Xerox imaging technology. Once matched with the goods received note they are then automatically sent via the Staffware workflow system to purchasing to complete the cycle. The final automated set is for purchasing to forward to the procurer who initiated the order for approval. If the sign off process is not completed within a designated time the workflow engine issues an electronic prompt.

“It is the content of the information that is of vital importance to the receiver of that information. If they have an easy means of accessing that data they will action it. With this system we are not only trying to automate and standardise the business process, we are actively trying to simplify it,” said Mike Casey.

Realised Business Benefits

For Ericsson the automation of this single business process has enabled not only considerable cost savings through more effective buying power, it has transformed the way people work.”The way I see it is that Staffware workflow technology can be the tool to change the way we work and free staff up to enable then to really add value to the way we do business,” continued Mike Casey.The newly installed workflow system has not only automated existing business processes it has revolutionised working practices.

Ericsson has reported improved work schedules, increased order processing and has actively helped build business relationships with the company’s suppliers.”Not only has the system saved time but it has also enabled us to increase the degree of control we have over the procurement process itself,” states Mike Casey.”The installation at Ericsson is a great example of professional collaboration between the customer, the systems integrator – Xerox Professional Services, and Staffware,” stated Robert Crook, Telecoms Business Manager, Staffware. “It also demonstrates the inherent ability to integrate the Staffware workflow solution with a host of software applications.”The Staffware solution has also provided one other previously unforeseen benefit. Increased legislative protection against late payers has been introduced in recent years.

The Staffware based system will ensure that Ericsson’s suppliers will be paid on time and by the right amount. Legislative compliance is a key business benefit for uses of workflow technology.The procurement process is the first Staffware implementation at Ericsson UK. Plans are currently in place as part of the Finance 2000 initiative, to extend its application throughout the enterprise. Ericsson has taken up the challenge it confronts in today’s highly competitive telecommunications market. One thing is certain as the market evolves Ericsson is ready to grasp that change head on.