ACC cements business processes

The Arabian Cement Company (ACC) has deployed a business process automation system to reduce the amount of paper it uses, accelerate the flow of information around its offices and cut costs.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  October 2, 2004

|~||~||~|Until recently, Arabian Cement Company (ACC) was using vast amounts of paper across its various offices. Storing this information across three different back end systems manually was proving to be resource intensive for the company. At the same time, it meant the Jeddah-based firm was suffering from inefficient business processes that were hindering the growth of its operations. To help solve its problems, ACC decided to implement a US$100,000-plus business process automation (BPA) system that would not only streamline said processes but accelerate the flow of information flow across its different departments. “Prior to implementing the BPS system, the company spent a lot of money on paper, printers and faxes. Also, managing the information was a real challenge,” comments Shouki Khayat, IT department manager at ACC. Before embarking on its BPA deployment, ACC carried out a six month internal assessment of its paper consumption. The study revealed that ACC used 210,000 sheets of A4 paper and 11,500 letterheads bringing the total paper expenses to US$15,195. Additional costs were incurred for maintaining its 70 printers and fax machines. These figures were more than enough to secure financial resources for the BPA project from the firm’s senior management. Rather than deploying standalone applications for specific functions, ACC opted for an integrated approach. It deployed Top Call for unified messaging, Adobe’s Intelligent Document Platform (IDP) for workflow and Hummingbird for document management. Combined, the three elements have created the backbone of ACC’s BPA system. The BPA system includes tools to create secure bilingual electronic documents that allow collaboration and integration into business processes. This not only helps ACC in business process efficiency but, it also gives insight into how the process is working and how it can be improved. With Adobe’s business process management (BPM) tool, ACC can identify and address bottlenecks and inefficiencies in a given process, ultimately reducing processing costs and improving service levels. To cater to the administrative needs of its 900 employees, ACC integrated its core functions such as payroll, personnel system and vacation request processes into the workflow system. “It [the BPA] system simplifies the change management process. Implementing new or modified human centric business processes is seamless as the rules and roles of whole business process are enforced through features like deadlines and reminders,” explains Mohammed Mushtaq, e-business consultant at Somac IT, which managed the project on behalf of ACC. ACC also implemented Top Call to streamline its e-mail, fax, telex, voice and SMS communications. The unified messaging system integrates the ACC’s fax system with Microsoft Exchange and Outlook client. “The company’s legacy fax system had lots of drawbacks related to cost, paper consumption and difficulty in archiving hard copies. Managers and employees can now easily archive and keep a log [of faxes sent] and send a high volume of faxes from their desktops,” says Abdullah Bajaber, IT project manager at ACC. Furthermore, the Hummingbird Enterprise 2004 server allows employees to create and manage documents via standard content authoring and productivity tools. Its features include result clustering, securing content with up to nine different levels of permissions to control access, event notifications and document check-in or workflow alerts via SMTP messaging. The BPA system also facilitates electronic signatures. Since the deployment of the BPA system, the Saudi organisation has managed to reap numerous benefits, especially when it comes to cost savings. “For instance, for initiating purchase requests we use Oracle Financials and instead of buying licenses for all the employees for the purchase modules, we use electronic forms, which means we only have to purchase licences for the purchasing department,” explains Khayat. However, ACC will have to spend money to train its staff so that they are technologically savvy and able to operate the new system efficiently. “Like any new implementation, training is necessary. We have trained our staff for basic functionalities. However, in order to completely exploit the system, they will need advanced training,” says Khayat. To optimise the benefits of the new systems, ACC plans to integrate its business processes yet further, provide advanced training to its employees and eventually turn the manufacturing company into a process driven business. “We see this as an ongoing implementation. We have hardly used 50% of the capabilities in the new system so far,” Khayat says. ||**||

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