Canada-based Creation Technologies is a leading electronics manufacturing services provider with 2,100 employees. Executives at Creation are frequently away from the office, traveling to customer sites and to the company’s thirteen locations around the world. To stay connected and make strategic decisions, the Executive Leadership Team meets three times per month and depends on updates to critical management documents. Executives frequently spent valuable time trying to manage document revisions and consolidate individual edits. To resolve these issues, Creation deployed the Microsoft Office 2010 suites and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to take advantage of co-authoring, offline access to documents, and other collaboration capabilities. Executives expect to reduce the time spent reconciling changes to documents by 75 percent so that they can devote more time to customer relationships.
Since 1991, Creation Technologies has been a premier partner for original equipment manufacturers who require medium-volume, complex electronics manufacturing solutions. Headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, Creation creates tailored solutions for 190 of the world’s leading companies in different industry segments, including medical, high-end wireless equipment, industrial controls, green energy, and security. Creation depends on technology to support its Lean Thinking philosophy—maximum efficiency across production cycles to deliver cost-effective solutions.
||With Office 2010, we can work together in a variety of locations in different time zones in a more cost-effective manner. Co-authoring plus offline access in SharePoint Workspace make this possible.
President and CEO, Creation Technologies
Incorporated in 1991, Creation has expanded to 13 locations across North America and China. Many of its 2,100 employees spend significant time communicating internally or with customers, often via e-mail. In 2009, Creation completed an upgrade from Microsoft Office 2003 to Office 2007. Even with the upgrade, teams still found it increasingly difficult to collaborate on documents for meetings because members were so geographically dispersed.
The company’s executive team also faced challenges. The 20 individuals who compose the Executive Leadership Team are based across the company and can all be in different locations for their weekly meeting. The executive team usually updates and distributes about five documents before each meeting, some of which require various parts to be updated by the whole team. Team members managed these files using e-mail and attachments, sending the source document back and forth among the team for various updates. The document owner then had to consolidate and reconcile all the changes.
Douglas Besse, CIO and EVP of Global Supply Chain and Asian Operations at Creation, says, “I can’t tell you how many times I would be editing a document and unbeknownst to me, someone else was editing the same file in parallel. Their version would later appear in my e-mail inbox. I can receive 250 e-mail messages a day, and so it was easy to miss something.” Because the leadership team was not always working with the latest or same version of the document, there was a distinct possibility for errors and omissions.
Executives also lost time updating documents, consolidating changes, formatting information pasted from other files, and ensuring that updates were applied. Besse says, “We each have ownership of specific strategic initiatives and therefore often edit the same document. We had huge revision and control issues. When I filled in for our CEO as facilitator for the executive leadership team meeting, I spent about eight hours each week reconciling the changes to our Vision and Strategy document before the meeting.”
A major growth area for Creation is medical products, for which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires a regulated solution for managing quality documents. On the manufacturing side, Creation could not find a corporate document management solution to meet its needs, so it relied on a combination of network directories and customized databases, which presented several challenges. First, the IBM Lotus Notes database was old and, on its own, did not provide a secure closed-loop system that could confirm the identity of persons signing off on control documents. Secondly, the FDA requires signatures for the traceability of certain medical devices, so to comply, Creation employees had to print certain manufacturing documentation and manually collect signatures. They also spent valuable time locating document records, tracking status, routing, and archiving documents.
Another issue for Creation was its dependence on a complicated network of remote-access technology to conduct remote meetings such as the executive leadership meeting. Besse says, “We used about five different vendors to bring a conference together. Sometimes it would take us the first 15 minutes of a meeting just to get ready to go and make sure everyone was connected.” The previous remote meeting products also had weak interoperability with the Microsoft Office Outlook messaging and collaboration client, which meant that sometimes employees had to use two different applications to book a meeting.
Creation realized it needed to improve both its collaboration and document management processes or it would face further difficulties as the business continued to expand. It needed a comprehensive document management system that would offer the company scalable solutions for quality management requirements, as in the case of the FDA, but that would also help busy executives locate and amend documents quickly before important meetings. The company also needed a more efficient system for conducting executive and other company meetings.
To solve its issues and reduce waste, Creation believed that technology could help redirect time from administrative tasks to more strategic, customer-focused activities. To discover how it could improve its collaboration and document management capabilities, Creation decided to participate in the Rapid Deployment Program for the Microsoft Office 2010 suites. In November 2009, Creation began taking advantage of the communications and collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Office 2010 combined with SharePoint Server 2010 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2.
Raegan Gibb, IT Operations Leader at Creation, says, “Several of us, including our CIO, began using Office 2010 in November 2009. In March 2010, we deployed it to 5 percent of our computer-based workforce and expect to have everyone upgraded to Office 2010 by December 2010.” The transition to using Office 2010 has been simple for both employees and the IT department, partly because employees are already familiar with the Ribbon, part of the Microsoft Office Fluent interface. Gibb says, “The upgrade to Office 2010 has been easier than previous upgrades—less employee training, fewer help-desk calls, and less deployment time for IT.”
Using Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, Creation has transformed how executives collaborate on important documents required to help them make business decisions. Besse says, “With the new co-authoring capability in Word 2010, multiple executives can work on the same document at the same time. Our CFO can edit the budget section of our Vision and Strategy while I work on the technology section. Everyone’s changes are easily seen and consolidated.” (See Figure 1.)
|Figure 1: Improved Executive Collaboration|
Because the leadership team travels frequently, the new solution has improved their efficiency when away from the office and when in focused workgroups. Besse says, “With all executive documents now stored in SharePoint Server 2010 and accessible offline via Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010, we always know exactly where to find the most updated file, and we can access it at any time. It’s great that I can review things like our Vision and Strategy document on an airplane, make my changes, and know that when I connect to the network, all of my changes will be synchronized.”
Creation employees are also taking advantage of the Conversation View and other features in Outlook 2010 to manage e-mail inboxes more effectively and handle increasing numbers of messages as the business continues to grow. Besse says, “I have to be honest, I didn’t use Conversation View in Outlook 2010 at first because it was new and I didn’t understand it. But I was intrigued to see if it really could help me manage e-mail, as I get hundreds of messages every day, and so I turned it on. After a day or two, I realized that it was an invaluable tool to help me manage my inbox. Using Conversation View, Clean Up, and Ignore, I can condense my e-mail so I can either focus on the latest e-mail message in a thread or ignore unimportant e-mail conversations. I save a lot of time, stay on top of my e-mail, and can focus on the important things. I don’t know how I worked without it before.”
Some Creation employees frequently copy and paste information across documents and use the Paste with Live Preview feature in Office 2010 to see how content will look when pasted. Graham Welbourn, Business Systems Program Manager at Creation, says, “It may sound small, but honestly my favorite feature of Office 2010 is Paste with Live Preview, as we often cut and paste from numerous documents. The ability to see the format before you actually paste it is a huge time—and frustration—saver.”
To solve its challenge regarding FDA requirements, Creation is currently developing a pilot of a quality document management solution based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Word 2010, and the InfoPath 2010 information gathering program. Using this solution, the company can convert hard-copy documents to InfoPath forms. When a preventive action is required, an engineer can open an InfoPath form pre-populated with key information, such as name and department, and enter required information to be automatically routed to multiple people for review and resolution. The simple workflow is managed in SharePoint Server 2010 and e-mail messages are received immediately via Outlook 2010. As issues are resolved, reviewers can supply a digital signature on the form using InfoPath 2010.
||The upgrade to Office 2010 has been easier than previous upgrades—less employee training, fewer help-desk calls, and less deployment time for IT.
IT Operations Leader, Creation Technologies
The new solution has several advantages compared to the previous paper-based and Lotus Notes process. Most importantly, it easily satisfies the FDA traceability and documentation requirements for producing medical devices. The solution also has improved search capabilities and security enhancements such as digital signatures and digital rights that help manage permissions to forms and documents. Additionally, because forms can be pre-populated, employees spend less time filling them out.
The executive team has also found a more efficient way to conduct meetings, using the features in Office 2010 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2. Besse says, “The interoperability of Office Communications Server with Outlook, Communicator, and other Office 2010 applications is priceless. We are able to bring our organization together more quickly and efficiently. For remote meetings, we have migrated from five products that don’t really fit together to a single integrated solution from Microsoft.”
Using Office 2010, Creation expects to improve productivity and reduce IT costs. The time savings associated with administrative tasks such as document and e-mail management give employees more time to serve customers. With the quality document solution based on Office 2010, Creation is better positioned for growth in such quality-driven markets as the medical industry, plus it will save on paper costs. Arthur Tymos, President and CEO of Creation Technologies, says, “With Office 2010, we can work together in a variety of locations in different time zones in a more cost-effective manner. Co-authoring plus offline access in SharePoint Workspace make this possible. This aligns directly with our Lean Thinking philosophy.”Improved Productivity
The executive team anticipates significant time savings associated with updating and reconciling key strategic documents. “With our Executive Leadership Team using co-authoring, we will eliminate non–value-added time from our meetings for our 20 key leaders. With SharePoint Workspace, we know that we have the latest file and can work efficiently even when traveling,” says Besse. Creation estimates a 75 percent reduction in time currently dedicated to documentation management. Overall, the executive team could save more than 40 hours a month.
Tymos adds, “With Office 2010, we can have multiple people authoring different parts of a document at one time. That gives us a big advantage. We're not wasting time dealing with version control.”
Employees also use Paste with Live Preview to reduce the number of steps and time spent merging information. Besse says, “Paste with Live Preview may seem like a small feature, but it saves me hours of reformatting documents.”
Customer intimacy is critical for Creation Technologies, and time savings on administrative tasks help improve customer satisfaction. “Improved e-mail management tools in Outlook 2010 like Conversation View, Clean Up, and Ignore have helped me cut down about 33 percent of my e-mail processing time. With faster understanding of the issues and priorities, I can support our customers that much more quickly,” says Besse.
||Improved e-mail management tools in Outlook 2010 like Conversation View, Clean Up, and Ignore have helped me cut down about 33 percent of my e-mail processing time.Quote
CIO and EVP Global Supply Chain and Asian Operations, Creation Technologies
Creation has also experienced improved productivity with its remote meetings. The interoperability between Office 2010 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2 eliminate issues with connecting to the meeting and sharing important documents. Executives spend more time discussing important decisions and less time connecting to the meeting and locating materials. “With Office and Office Communications Server, we can bring our leadership team together quickly and with fewer problems. The solution cuts down on the time at the beginning of our executive call, waiting for everyone to connect, and that is worth tens of thousands of dollars a year to us,” says Besse. Reduced IT Costs
Creation expects to reduce IT support costs. Gibb says, “With the deployment of Office 2010 and the pilot solution using Office Communications Server 2007 R2, we’re consolidating from several vendors to a single one. The improved integration of Outlook and our meeting and conferencing solution has reduced our IT help-desk calls and costs.” Creation also expects to reduce the cost and time of supporting an older Notes system with the new quality document management solution.Reduced Paper Costs
Because Creation will be able to manage documents electronically with Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, it will cut down on the amount of paper it uses. In addition to the environmental benefit, the company believes it can cut the costs of paper, printing, and storage by CDN$30,000 (U.S.$29,000) per year. With the electronic-based solution, employees also will locate information quicker and eliminate the risk of losing or using outdated paper documents.Support for New Revenue
The quality document solution based on Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 is a required component for the Creation business growth strategy that will support millions of dollars of revenue growth over the next several years. “The medical segment is a major growth area for Creation Technologies. It is critical for us to have an effective electronic solution for our quality documentation that is ahead of the requirements of regulatory bodies such as the FDA. The Microsoft solution will allow us to manage a market, supporting its key drivers of quality, reliability, and traceability,” explains Besse.
Tymos adds, “Microsoft is critical to our business strategy and growth. As one of our key business partners, they understand the importance we place on productivity and Lean Thinking.
They help us better collaborate and innovate, so we can better serve our customers.”
Microsoft Office 2010
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For more information about Creation Technologies and its services, call (604) 430-4336 or visit the Web site at: