IKEA is now able to create internal business cases in less than half the time it used to take by moving from paper to a web-based system.
The Swedish furniture retailer is using a web-based business process management system (BPMS) called Barium Live to standardise its business case creation and approvals process.
“The process is much faster. It used to be an average 24 days. Now it’s just nine days on average,” Bodil Ahl from IKEA IT told the Gartner Business Process Management Summit in London.
The primary driver for implementing a new, electronic process, was because project managers at IKEA were getting increasingly fed up with the existing, manual and therefore slow process.
“The process wasn’t always followed as we intended it to be. The governance wasn’t complete. Often [the process] was in someone’s head,” said Ahl.
“All in all, people were frustrated.”
IKEA wanted to use a technology it already had in its portfolio, and chose the Barium tool as it was one that was being used in its Swedish operations, and so it was quick to rollout to the rest of the world. Going from implementation to go-live took just two months (December 2013 to January 2014), and Ahl attributed the success of the implementation to “a lot of change management”.
“There was a lot of material [explaining the new process] produced,” she said. This included a website with an online user handbook for the 220 users, mainly managers, of the system.
However, IKEA also benefited from the fact that staff were unhappy with the existing process.
“People were so tired of the old process, they were like ‘please, give us a new tool’,” Ahl added.
Barium helped IKEA to build a solution for the company, and the tool is known internally as iApprove.
“The whole process has now moved into this Barium tool. You have to follow it, and people are perfectly OK with that,” said Ahl.
Another advantage of the tool is that it has created a central database with information that now enables IKEA to do more data mining of useful information it knew existed, but previously was unable to collate easily.
It has also eradicated paper documents and improved information security, and further, being located around the world isn’t a problem any more, Ahl said.
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