Love it or hate it, Microsoft Sharepoint is in a fair number of installations, which is why it's always useful to find an organization doing something interesting with it.

The Emirates National Oil Co. (ENOC) of Dubai is one such organization. It is one of the region’s leading oil and gas companies. The company was looking for better ways to manage its paper-based customer request documents. Although the company uses Sharepoint as a content management system, it also wanted its users to be able to store electronic copies of documents. To solve the problem, it integrated Sharepoint with Laserfiche Rio.

The organization started with a single department, internal audit. Previously, 1,500 of the company's employees were required to download, sign, and return employee acknowledgement and conflict of interest forms — 3,000 pieces of paper in all. With the new system, this meant that the employees could submit the forms online, where they were converted to PDFs.

The result was that in just that one department, the company saved 6,000 hours of staff time a year, which amounted to $240,000, as well as $28,800 in paper storage costs.

After the success of that program, ENOC looked for other ways to streamline business processes. The products are now being used together in a total of five departments, according to a recent Computerworld article on the project.

For example, the card marketing department developed a way for fuel card customers to request to fax their invoices, through integration with an interactive voice response system.

The group finance department set up a central location from which to validate and store all supplier invoices, which are then sent via email to the company owner for payment. Similarly, human resources now has a single central location from which it can retrieve all employee documents.

Finally, the group chief executive and general manager office secretary now use Laserfiche as a tracking system to store correspondence.

The project demonstrates several important lessons. First, pick one particular department, and one particular pain point, and test a new system on a project basis. Second, develop metrics that enable the organization to determine whether a new system is an improvement, such as cost or time saved. Third, once it’s been determined that the new system actually is an improvement, start expanding it to other departments and other pain points in an organization.

The total payback on the product has taken less than two years, and the company is now considering a re-engineering of its IT systems, including its Oracle ERP system. After all, if it can make Sharepoint easier to use, Oracle should be a piece of cake.

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