Apparel Manufacturer to Save $200,000 annually with consolidated Information
Brandix Lanka Limited (Brandix), the largest apparel exporter in Sri Lanka, wanted to revitalize its existing intranet system. It had limited collaboration and information-sharing capabilities using an existing application server-powered Web site. It wanted an easier-to-manage portal where all product, marketing, financial, HR, and workflow information could be centrally and easily accessed and updated by users. To improve information sharing, Brandix rolled out Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 and the InfoPath® Forms Services. Now, it can easily manage the information required by its human resource department, its board of directors, and marketing teams. End users can now upload information. Improved collaboration and information sharing will allow teams to share information seamlessly and securely, saving the company up to $200,000 annually.
Brandix Lanka Limited (Brandix) began with a single manufacturing facility in 1972, and now has 22,000 employees supplying vertically integrated apparel solutions to the world’s fashion super-brands. Its vertical integration extends from fabric manufacturing, wet and dry finishing, to accessories such as thread, buttons, and hangers. Today, Brandix is Sri Lanka’s largest apparel manufacturer and is supported by over 25 manufacturing facilities nationwide, plus global sourcing offices. The company had a turnover of over U.S.$320 million in 2006.
To facilitate collaboration between departments, Brandix used several Web sites that were supported by different application servers and an intranet system accessible over the Web. With 2,000 users of its collaboration and productivity tools, the system did not provide consolidated information and was difficult to manage because of the several independent stand-alone operations.
“We could not upload information efficiently with our previous intranet system. Individuals could not update shared documents and make it available for everyone without IT involvement,” says Hiranya Gunasekara, Head of Group ICT, Brandix Lanka Limited.
A lot of the available information was also not current. Imran Vilcassim, Account Technology Specialist, Microsoft Sri Lanka says, “Within the Brandix group, we found that the market intelligence was not sufficient for the marketing team, therefore we decided to look at a central repository of marketing information.”
Without updated information on buyers, marketers could not make the right decisions required to meet customer expectations. “At the same time, it took employees a long time to acquire, create, and share information on market trends,” says Gunasekara.
With all these issues, Brandix knew it urgently needed to set up an easy-to-deploy, accessible collaboration portal that could be managed by end users with minimal IT support.
To help manage all the information it needed for its business, and allow users to easily upload information on their own, Brandix decided to deploy Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 collaboration software, and the InfoPath® Forms Services in early 2007.
As a Microsoft Enterprise customer in Sri Lanka for the previous three years, Brandix was aware of SharePoint Server 2007. “Our assessment for an information portal started four years ago. We discovered the capabilities of the environment while being an existing Microsoft Enterprise customer, but we were also considering other alternatives such as content management software,” says Gunasekara.
However, SharePoint Server 2007 was chosen because it had all the features of a collaboration and content management portal, and it was easy to install. SharePoint Server 2007 was installed on an HP ProLiant 350 Server. The first portal, Brandix Market Watch (BMW), was deployed in February 2007. BMW helps marketers within the company by giving the most current, up-to-date information on the market. “BMW is for all internal employees to view. In it we publish information on current market conditions,” says Gunasekara.
Next, the Financial information portal went live in June 2007, offering financial information and dashboards for senior management. Following this, its Human Resource (HR) department set up a portal called Systematic Hiring of Internal Employees (SHINE) in August 2007. SHINE provides updated information on internal job vacancies that users within the group can apply for. “The internal recruitment function is now automated with SHINE, and all applications are automatically processed through the system,” says Kolitha de Silva, Assistant Manager, Information System, Brandix Lanka Limited.
Finally, the Brandix Process Improvement Team set up a portal to help improve the cycle time and first pass yield of various processes. This portal, which went live in October 2007, allows the Process Improvement Team to track their projects, budgets, and savings reaped as a result of better processes. It is also the central hub for process flow documents and enterprise maps.
A lot of customizations were carried out on the look-and-feel of the various portals. One programmer worked on the infrastructure, while four others were involved on system development. Despite some delays in the launch of the first portal caused by some technical challenges, the technical aspects of the deployment were settled very quickly with help from Microsoft Sri Lanka. Now, some 800 users are using the different portals.
Brandix has improved information sharing by consolidating relevant information into a central location. At the same time, managing the central repository and uploading new information has been made easier. Other benefits include improved productivity for knowledge workers, better decision making for the entire company, and improved ease-of-use of the portal system leading to a predicted overall saving of $200,000 annually.
Improved Information Access
In the past, some employees needed to call the administration department to locate information that was important for their work. At times, they didn’t know who to call, or they were given old or unusable information.
Now, with all its information consolidated in one place and with no duplication, Brandix expects to save a large amount of money annually. “Our knowledge workers can find exactly what they want through an easy search interface. And now the board of directors do not have to go to the finance department to get information, they can easily look for financial and performance reports on their own,” says Gunasekara.
Now, with easy access to information and automation of data collection using SharePoint Server 2007, Brandix expects to reap a 30 percent improvement in productivity. For example, the HR portal SHINE allows automated processing of a job application—previously any job application had to be manually assessed. “A lot of the information is centralized but end users can update documents and files on their own without IT support. For example our management staff can directly update a report or Microsoft® Excel® sheet using SharePoint Server 2007, and it is automatically available to all,” says de Silva.
Better Decision Making
By always having the most current information, the different SharePoint Server 2007 portal sites help team members collaborate better, and let management make better decisions. “Management now finds it easier to respond to the market as we have current market information right at our fingertips,” says Gunasekara. “With the different information extracting capabilities, we can also gain valuable insights into our processes.”
For example the Brandix HR portal SHINE allows managers to analyze job roles, so that the HR managers can automatically access information on how employees move internally from one job to another. This allows the company to respond to unpopular jobs by hiring outsiders to fill them.
Improved Ease of Use
The portal is very user-friendly. New pages can be easily created for a fresh project, and relevant team members quickly added to support it. “SharePoint Server 2007 simplifies information sharing and lets every staff member access up-to-date information to help with their work and fulfill company objectives,” says de Silva.
In addition, senior management can easily access all the reports, using the Board of Directors portal, and be automatically notified whenever there is an update.
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For More Information
For more information about Brandix Lanka Limited products and services visit the Web site at: http://www.Brandix.com/
Document published January 2008