Manufacturing: Hosted SharePoint Intranet
TMD Friction is the world’s largest manufacturer of original equipment brake friction materials in the automotive and brake industry, producing one million brake friction products each day globally. Its product portfolio comprises disc brake pads and drum brake linings for passenger cars and commercial vehicles together with brake pads for racing and friction materials for rail and industry. With offices and staff around the world, collaborative processes are crucial to the success of the business.
TMD Friction had invested in SharePoint 2007 to provide collaboration type functionality in an intranet scenario.
Following the deployment, TMD Friction discovered that the functionality available and the uptake of its use were not as it required. In fact, the inflexibility of the set-up of the solution was decreasing productivity and in danger of becoming a hindrance to core business processes.
The SharePoint solution
Business Agility is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with a wide range of Microsoft-based competencies including .NET Custom Development, SOA and Business Process, Business Intelligence and SharePoint. It is a leader in providing SharePoint Delivery Services and is recommended by Microsoft to deliver implementations in these competencies.
Dave McIver, TMD Friction’s Group IT Business Project Manager, attended a SharePoint Business Intelligence Webinar hosted by Business Agility. It was following this seminar and a subsequent SharePoint Health Check meeting, that Business Agility arranged an envisioning workshop for his CFO and team, in order to show them what SharePoint was really capable of delivering when implemented by experts such as Business Agility.
After Business Agility’s initial assessment a new implementation of SharePoint was suggested. This would give them the desired functionality and flexibility needed.
Business Agility’s engagement with TMD wasn’t simply from a purely technical point of view; it was a holistic, business-focussed approach applying Business Agility’s deep understanding of business value and how to maximise and leverage existing TMD processes. This, coupled with an unparalleled expertise in SharePoint intranet design and implementation, allowed Business Agility to identify the most efficient way to maximise TMD Friction’s investment in SharePoint licences – namely to leverage core SharePoint functionality to suit TMD Friction’s requirements, and, where required, to follow recognised best practice to customise and extend in a way that wouldn’t constrain future growth.
PHASE ONE: The core solutions and functionality provided
Using an Agile approach, Business Agility added value to the new implementation of SharePoint by automating several business processes in the HR & Finance departments. Much needed functionality included:
- Automating Business Intelligence and Key Performance Indicators to remove the manual effort involved in producing essential executive information.
- An ’employee movement system’ utilising SharePoint’s workflow capabilities, automating the processes required to manage the provisioning activities required when employees join or change roles within the organisation, with associated alerts, tracking and visibility of progress.
- Automation and visibility of the CAPEX approval process
- Provision of a number of collaboration, content management and version control areas for TMD Friction.
- Ensuring the look and feel of the intranet solution closely followed TMD Friction’s required branding and style.
The final activity in Phase One was to migrate all existing content from the current hosting provider to the Rackspace environment. TMD Friction was then able to withdraw from their previous non-flexible commitments.
The Hosting solution
TMD Friction was undergoing major IT refreshes across many sites and systems; their internal IT department was already working to full capacity. To reduce the impact of having to maintain another system, Business Agility recommended their hosting solution partner, Rackspace.
Since 2001 Rackspace has been hosting and supporting mission critical websites, internet applications, email servers, security and storage services for over 100,000 customers world-wide. Rackspace is the industry-leader in hosted solutions and it’s because of its unparalleled levels of service it is Business Agility’s preferred hosting partner.
Rackspace worked directly with TMD Friction, taking into consideration its current infrastructure and also its priorities for a hosting environment. A future proof SharePoint solution was specifically designed with Security and Uptime in mind. The solution deployed was fully scalable so that additional projects could be added with minimal disruption.
In addition to this, during the proposal stage, TMD Friction had a number of Active Directories. The decision was taken to create a new Active Directory within the Rackspace environment to authenticate users against SharePoint, as the consolidation of Active Directories was a planned future project.
However, once the new Active Directory was in place TMD Friction brought forward consolidation plans, and engaged Rackspace to help them achieve this. Rackspace worked directly with TMD Friction and helped them replicate a domain.
Roy Murphy, Managing Director of Business Agility said, “We are happy to introduce Rackspace to our customers, because we are confident in their ability to understand their needs; this is why we engaged them with TMD at an early stage.”
PHASE TWO: The evolution of TMD Friction’s SharePoint – adding new functionality
Currently SharePoint is being widely used throughout TMD Friction as the source of information for collaboration.
The Finance Department required some changes to be made to their site as a result of evolving requirements. TMD Friction staff captured these new requirements and engaged Business Agility to help deliver them. Due to Business Agility’s high level of expertise and Agile delivery approach just one week of consultancy was needed to deliver the required changes, train TMD Friction staff and configure multilingual support.
The new functionality
After several months of usage, users thought it would be helpful if some intranet content was displayed in the local language. This was scoped at the landing page. Business Agility helped TMD Friction explore how best to meet this requirement and suggested the use of SharePoint Variations in combination with Language Packs.
The Language Packs allow sites to be created in different languages. SharePoint Variations take this a step further by allowing the definition of a source site and the creation of variations thereof. The English site was set as the source, and a German variation created. This was configured in such a way that when content changed on the source site, the corresponding content on the variation would become ‘pending’ as it awaited translation. Variations were isolated to the landing page; however the framework allows this to be cascaded to sub sites in the future if the need arises.
Within SharePoint, most document libraries require the user to check-in each file individually. With multiple documents this requirement proves to be time consuming. TMD approached Business Agility requesting functionality that allowed users to upload multiple files and check them into document libraries simultaneously. The newly developed component allows a user to check-in all files that are currently checked out to them.
TMD Friction is experiencing the benefits from a well deployed SharePoint system in a hosted environment. It has upgraded to SharePoint 2010 with Business Agility, and is taking advantage of the new features and functionality and translating these into their successful intranet environment.
Dave McIver, Group IT Business Project Manager at TMD Friction commented:
“Business Agility were a pleasure to work with right from the start. The setup of an agreement and working relationship was smooth and pain free. One of the biggest benefits was their ability to live up to their name; the flexibility and constant testing of understanding brought phase 1 of the project in on time and on budget.”
Business Agility continues to engage with TMD Friction as a technology partner and is a resource to support to their existing infrastructure and used as a consultant for future developments.
To find out more about how Business Agility and Rackspace can help you with SharePoint, hosted solutions or any development and integration services, then please contact us to speak to one of our SharePoint consultants.