Technology integration solution for Bidco Oil Company in Kenya Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Customer Solution Case Study Oil Manufacturer Enhances Productivity Through Portal Integration and Collaboration Overview Country or Region: Kenya Industry: Manufacturing Customer Profile Bidco Oil Refineries Ltd headquartered in Thika Kenya is the largest manufacturer and distributor of high-quality edible oils fats margarine soaps and detergents in the East and southern African regions. Business Situation Bidco Oil had an intranet solution that did not deliver the required collaboration and integration the company was seeking particularly in light of the rapid expansion the company was achieving. Solution Bidco migrated to Microsoft® Windows ServerTM 2003 Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Office Basic Edition 2003 to enable better integration of the entire infrastructure with Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003 providing the collaborative properties the company sought to improve productivity across the distributed enterprise.
Benefits Improved integration Enhanced accessibility to information Quicker deployment Reduced IT management costs “Like every other business we wanted to improve the performance of our infrastructure while at the same time decreasing our total cost of ownership.” Vishnu Sankaran Group Team Leader Information Communication Technology Bidco Oil Refineries Ltd Established in 1985 and with yearly sales in the region of US128 million Bidco Oil Refineries manufactures and distributes high-quality edible oils fats margarine soaps and detergents. The company has four factories: edible oils based in Nakuru production of edible fats and soap with a factory in Thika near Nairobi Kenya a newly opened factory in Dar es Salaam Tanzania and Jinja in Uganda which is East Africa’s biggest oil refinery. As a large distributed enterprise manufacturing mass goods Bidco was operating with a standard intranet solution with limited functionality. While the intranet solution enabled enterprise-wide distribution and access of information it lacked the enhanced collaborative functions that the company sought.
Requiring an advanced technology solution to integrate all its applications and data sources across the intranet to improve productivity collaboration and accessibility for employees Bidco turned to Microsoft for a suitable business solution. Situation Bidco Oil Refineries Limited is engaged in the manufacture and distribution of high quality edible oils fats margarine soaps and detergents. The company features three factories in the East Africa region including a newly opened factory in Dar es Salaam Tanzania which is East Africa’s biggest oil refinery to date. Bidco was utilizing a custom-made intranet solution to manage and provide enterprise-wide information. While this gave stakeholders access to information and applications the company found that the solution was encountering difficulty handling the organisation’s increased growth and capacity—particularly following its expansion into Tanzania. The company’s geographical and financial growth had led to an increasingly distributed environment resulting in considerable demands for collaboration within the organisation. Group Team Leader Information Communication Technology at Bidco Vishnu Sankaran adds “The installed solution was not particularly user friendly and most importantly we were encountering difficulties integrating our applications particularly Active Directory®.”
This difficulty in integrating applications was hampering critical deployment and maintenance of infrastructure leading to escalating support maintenance and management costs of the IT infrastructure. “Like every other business we wanted to improve the performance of our infrastructure while at the same time decreasing our total cost of ownership. For Bidco this required that our infrastructure be simplified to enable faster deployment of applications and information across the enterprise as well as better integration and increased collaboration ability” states Sankaran. According to Pratik Roy Technology Specialist at Microsoft East Africa Bidco’s existing intranet solution was only providing basic functionality to the business. Mission-critical information was spread across various applications that were unable to communicate effectively with each other or a centralized database. This meant that timeouts occurred accessibility to information was hindered and company productivity was reduced. It also meant that there was duplication of information input tasks and support over the separated applications and data sources.
”Moreover the company was dependent on a single solution provider for any enhancements. Changes and upgrades therefore took time to reflect as the provider had to be involved during the process” he explains. Solution Attending the Microsoft® Tech-ed 2003 conference in South Africa Bidco management had the opportunity to view the functions and benefits of the Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003 solution on display. Suitably impressed management kept the Sharepoint Portal Server solution in mind while researching alternatives including Documentum Newgen-Omnidocs and Saperion. However the company finally opted for a fully integrated Microsoft solution instead of a standalone solution recognizing that an end-to-end Microsoft infrastructure offers numerous benefits in terms of stability ease of integration scalability and cost sensitivity. “Migration to Windows Server 2003 Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Office 2003 enabled us to access the benefits of a more robust Windows-based platform for the IT department and the company as a whole. Vishnu Sankaran Group Team Leader Information Communication Technology Bidco Oil Refineries Ltd “Furthermore when the company balanced the costs of all the considered solutions the Microsoft solution stood out as a firm leader” states Roy.
In addition to implementing SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Bidco decided to upgrade the rest of its infrastructure. “Migration to Windows Server 2003 Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Office 2003 enabled us to access the benefits of a more robust Windows®-based platform for the IT department and the company as a whole. Standardization across the infrastructure has brought welcome user-friendliness to both users and the support team while integration and deployment is simpler and faster. Support costs in terms of both time and money have been considerably reduced and the entire platform is stable reducing downtime” says Sankaran. Over and above the strengthened Windows platform SharePoint Portal Server 2003 delivers a host of benefits. It has enabled Bidco to develop an intelligent portal that seamlessly connects users teams and information so that people can access and take advantage of relevant information across business processes to help them work more efficiently. The SharePoint Portal Server 2003 provides an enterprise business solution that integrates information from various systems into one solution through single sign-on and enterprise application integration capabilities with flexible deployment options and management tools.
The portal facilitates end-to-end collaboration by enabling aggregation organization and search capabilities for people teams and information. Users can find relevant information quickly through customization and personalization of portal content and layout as well as by audience targeting. In turn the organization can target information programs and updates to audiences based on their organizational role team membership interest security group or any other membership criteria that has been defined. “The entire solution has enabled significantly faster turnaround times due to the simple fact that the IT department is now in charge of controlling the whole solution… rather than a third-party supplier” states Sankaran. The built-in collaborative features of the solution has additionally ensured that the business is able to benefit from improved efficiency productivity and flexibility. Because SharePoint Portal Server facilitates remote access Bidco’s mobile workers now have easy access to the information they need to do business where and when they need it. “Bidco is experiencing vastly improved accessibility and visibility of information across the whole enterprise due to the integration of enterprise-wide applications and data sources. While single sign-on access has reduced IT management and we are now able to rapidly deploy business-specific intranet applications. The system has seamlessly integrated with our BaaN ERP and Crystal Report Writer applications.
For every employee in the company availability of the right information at the right time has been helpful in making crucial business decisions” says Sankaran. An important influencer in the successful introduction of the portal to Bidco’s business was the decision to invest in user training as well as change and risk management. Initially users were trained on the basic functions of the portal and this was followed by a “Bidco is experiencing vastly improved accessibility and visibility of information across the whole enterprise due to the integration of enterprise-wide applications and data sources. Vishnu Sankaran Group Team Leader Information Communication Technology Bidco Oil Refineries Ltd conference room pilot for all the stakeholders of the solution. In addition to increasing user adoption the pilot helped the IT team to include changes from senior and mid-level management at the last minute which ensured that the solution was fully customized to Bidco’s specific business demands.
Benefits While the migration to Microsoft Windows ServerTM 2003 Exchange Server 2003 and Office Basic Edition 2003 provided Bidco with a robust integrated platform it was ultimately SharePoint Portal Server 2003 that provided the functionality that the business required. Improved Integration Migrating the infrastructure to one that is Microsoft-based has provided the company benefits in terms of compatibility integration and interoperability. Most importantly it has ensured that the infrastructure is considerably more robust. “We were experiencing difficulties with integration with our last intranet solution especially with mission-critical Active Directory. This would slow down everything on our network and ultimately result in an unstable platform. We therefore needed to enhance integration and the simplest way was to standardize on a Microsoft-based platform” explains Sankaran. The new Microsoft software delivers all the standardization and integration requirements Bidco could need. This drastically reduces costs in terms of IT support as the administrators have far less challenges to deal with with shorter times to resolution.
Enhanced Accessibility to Information With SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Bidco has an enterprise-wide view of information enabling improved access to that information for real-time decision making and productivity enhancement amongst its employees. “Through the user interface employees can efficiently find and access information relevant to their roles just by searching or browsing within the portal” explains Roy. This has had a marked improvement on the productivity of all stakeholders within the company. Quicker Deployment Faster and simpler deployment of information is critical for business agility and real-time access to the information the business needs to operate more efficiently. Built on a scalable highly distributed architecture SharePoint Portal Server 2003 can link Windows SharePoint Services sites business unit portals and the enterprise portal together at any time enabling knowledge and applications to be shared right across an organization. This means that information or application deployment happens enterprise-wide all at the same time and from a single point. Reduced IT Management Costs Where Bidco was formerly experiencing significant IT management costs due to lack of integration duplication of effort and general user management today’s cost of ownership is far more attractive.
“Our upgraded Microsoft-based network is delivering considerably lower costs in terms of management and upkeep but SharePoint Portal Server 2003 allows us to populate mission-critical information and applications enterprise-wide within minutes. This negates the repetition of input which in turn significantly reduces the high cost of time and resources” states Sankaran. “Through the user interface employees can efficiently find and access information relevant to their roles just by searching or browsing within the portal. Pratik Roy Technology Specialist Microsoft East Africa Furthermore Roy at Microsoft East Africa explains how single sign-on also reduces management costs: “IT support no longer has to continually manage access by the many users every time they access information across the enterprise. With SharePoint the user is easily identified and managed.” Additionally standardizing on the Microsoft software allows user-friendliness and easier acceptance which translates to less support and therefore further cost reduction.