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Bilfinger Industrial Services creates 'Single point of truth' with M-Files

As a large, global industrial services provider, what do you do when you want absolute control over your information and processes? Then you deploy the right tools in the way they are meant for, say Jaimy van Groesen and Tamara Berben of Bilfinger Industrial Services Belgium/Netherlands. That was the decisive reason for them to deploy M-Files. 'Now we can be sure at any time and anywhere that everyone involved has access to up-to-date information regarding certifications, manuals, protocols, procedures and work instructions.' Bilfinger was assisted by premium M-Files partner GeONE. Who immediately understood where Bilfinger wanted to go.

Bilfinger is a major global player in the field of industrial services and engineering. That includes a wide range of services in insulation, scaffolding, painting and conservation. These are always special projects: not painting an ordinary house, but a large chemical plant, for example. Measures must then be taken to give the painters safe and responsible access to paint. This can be in the form of scaffolding or via rope access along which the painters can be 'lowered'.

Another service Bilfinger is furore with is insulation of industrial assets. A proactive approach to new construction and maintenance combined with insulation is very important to keep those assets in good condition. Insulation also offers energy savings. That saves costs and contributes to the organisation's climate ambitions. Bilfinger is a partner with extensive experience and knowledge in applying the right insulation according to its clients' specifications, in addition to legal and industry-specific regulations.

Compliancy is crucial factor

The latter is a crucial factor in Bilfinger's operations, explain Jaimy van Groesen and Tamara Berben. Tamara is responsible for Internal Control & Compliance: 'Everything you need to do the work safely, responsibly and well depends largely on how you have organised the information around it. Until not so long ago, people went out with paper prints of instructions they needed to build a particular scaffold, for example. On the next job, that version might just be used, while there is a chance that something has been changed in the meantime. This, of course, cannot be done. Accessing the right information to work safely needed to be simpler and digital.'

"Security depends on how information is organised"

Now Bilfinger is a large organisation with 35,000 employees worldwide and around 3,000 in the Netherlands/Belgium. Bilfinger Industrial Services has a reputation for efficiency and innovation. But the problem of growing information flows and increasing pressure from strict(er) laws and regulations was increasingly felt. There was a clear need for digitisation and quality management for optimal control. As Health, Quality & Process Officer, Jaimy van Groesen is mainly concerned with the operational side: 'For us as a company, quality is paramount. That includes information, management and processes. In our work, there are countless certifications, standards, work instructions and protocols. On top of that, you need to have access to (verifiably) correct information at all times. We worked a lot with SharePoint. Perfect for collaboration and information sharing, but in our option less suitable for the specific document management functions, such as version management and - especially - quality control. Much of the available information was organised at departmental level and therefore scattered throughout the organisation. In addition, an intranet was still being used. There, too, 'own things' gradually emerged based on experiences and good intentions. As a result, you quickly lose the overview. Above all, the solution had to provide overview, insight and management. Plus, it had to enable quality control on information and processes, including an extensive rights structure and options for approval. We had to move from department-oriented to process-oriented.'

M-Files is indispensable addition to SharePoint

Having everything housed in one system, with the information accessible in context to everyone and with the associated quality control, would take Bilfinger a big step forward. Tamara: 'It seemed like searching for the familiar needle in the haystack because of all the requirements, but it worked out anyway. For project collaboration, we still use SharePoint, as it is good at that. For structuring and managing all important process information, including from those projects, such as certifications, standards, protocols, procedures, manuals, work instructions and quality control, we use M-Files. That is based on the principle of 'one single point of truth': it is not about where the information is, but what it is and what context exists with other relevant information.'

Approval and quality control standard in M-Files

Jaimy: "We were actually looking forward to a new SharePoint environment first. This put us in touch with GeONE. When Bastiaan Brefeld heard our requirements and measured them against SharePoint's capabilities, he suggested that there might be a better option: M-Files. Besides the excellent document management functionality in M-Files, it turned out that the requirements around document approval and the quality control module were a much better fit in M-Files by default. That was the deciding factor.'

Impressed by M-Files

The set of requirements was very extensive and proof that M-Files could work had yet to be provided in the form of a Proof of Concept (PoC). That took place at the Logistic Centre Roosendaal: M-Files delivered as requested and Bilfinger passed. In time of barely two months, the system was delivered operationally and Bilfinger was able to further fine-tune the system to its own requirements. Tamara: 'We were immediately impressed by the user-friendliness, the search options and the possibility of setting up workflows, including approval processes. Especially the search function is widely used in the field. However, everyone acts from their own angle and specific context to find the right documents. M-Files, with its Intelligent Metadata Layer (IML), offers the possibility to always be able to find a document via multiple paths and from a different context. This gives us the assurance of control and compliancy and the employees are sure that they always have the right information.'

Even with paper printouts of procedures, it is still possible. After all, a PC or other electronic device is not available everywhere. So there is an option to print a procedure, but with a time stamp. So that everyone knows it really is a temporary document and must be destroyed after use.

SharePoint and M-Files is collaboration plus knowledge assurance

Jaimy: 'The system sells itself. The possibilities are endless. GeONE's support helped us a lot in this project. They especially understood the importance of quality management and securing knowledge and things like certification in a working environment like ours. We are now discussing the follow-up with them. We still have some wishes, such as contract management, Internal Controls & Testing. The system is starting to land in the organisation. People are getting more and more enthusiastic and even at corporate level they are following this project with suspicion.'

Jackpot with M-Files

Quality management was picked up first with M-Files, as it had the highest stakes and risks. In M-Files, now corporate policylocal policy & procedures recorded, managed and approved (amendments). The latter always requires the approval of at least two people: a manager and a content expert. They indicate what should be done and how it should be done. One cannot change something (or have something changed) without the other's approval via M-Files. Tamara: 'That is the assurance and compliancy who we want to have...'

The benefits of using M-Files are clear to the duo: 'Consistency in storing and managing all relevant information is essential. M-Files provides guidance in this through, in particular, the smart metadata that optimises the retrieval of the right documents. In addition, partly due to the QMS module, we now have maximum control over information and processes. We comply with laws and regulations at all times, but also with our own requirements. M-Files has a generic basis, which is very easy to adapt to the specific circumstances of the organisation that is going to work with it. Without all kinds of difficult and expensive development processes for custom software. We invested plenty of time at the front end of the process to get all our requirements in order, but - now that we are working with M-Files - that has absolutely hit the jackpot.'

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