Published on 13-Oct-2010
Validated on 08 Jan 2013
"GIS EPL and IBM WebSphere Portal provide a fast, clear and efficient way of managing projects, particularly when stakeholders are working at different sites or in different countries." - Klaus Höling, Director of IT and Group CIO, Sennheiser
Business Integration, Enabling Business Flexibility, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT, Service Oriented Architecture, Smart Work, Smarter Planet
IBM Business Partner:
Established in 1945, Sennheiser has grown to become one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of audio equipment, with a range of products, including headphones, wired and wireless microphones, studio monitors, conference and information systems, audiology products, and headsets for the office, for gaming, and for the aviation sector. The company employs 2,000 people, has customers and partners in 90 countries, and had annual sales in 2009 of around €389 million.
Sennheiser’s existing project management methodology involved the use of a number of different systems. Within the IT department, the projects themselves were tracked using GIS Projects for Lotus Notes, an application developed by GIS. Most communication about the projects took place via email. Only the IT team were able to access the project management system – but in reality, line of business users needed to be able to view this information too.
GIS, an IBM Premier Business Partner, helped Sennheiser deploy GIS Enterprise Project List (EPL), which leverages the service-oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities of IBM WebSphere Portal to orchestrate existing components into a single portal. Role-based access enables both internal and external users to search documents, blogs, activities and discussion forums for information, and interact in real time using business networking and instant messaging tools.
Improves transparency: managers can check project status easily via a simple dashboard, or drill down for more detailed information. Enhances international collaboration: remote users can comment via blogs and discussions, or use instant messaging and web conferencing to communicate in real time. Increases flexibility: standards-based, service-oriented platform makes it easy to integrate new tools and components.
To read a German version of this case study, click here.
Sennheiser electronic is an international organisation based near Hannover, Germany. Established in 1945, Sennheiser has grown to become one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of audio equipment, with a range of products, including headphones, wired and wireless microphones, studio monitors, conference and information systems, audiology products, and headsets for the office, for gaming, and for the aviation sector. The company employs 2,000 people, has customers and partners in 90 countries, and had annual sales in 2009 of around €389 million.
“We are a highly international business, with production sites in Germany, the US and the Republic of Ireland, and research and development facilities in Germany, the US and Singapore,” explains Klaus Höling, Director of IT and Group CIO at Sennheiser. “We also have offices all over the world. As a result, many of our projects involve team members working in different countries – and we wanted to find a way to help them collaborate more effectively.”
Problems with project management
Sennheiser’s existing project management methodology involved the use of a number of different systems. Within the IT department, the projects themselves were tracked using GIS Projects for Lotus Notes®, an application developed by GIS, an IBM Premier Business Partner. Project-related documentation was held in an IBM Lotus® Quickr® repository. Most communication about the projects took place via email. Only the IT team were able to access the project management system – but in reality, line of business users needed to be able to view this information too.
“Having separate systems for project tracking, documentation and communication was very cumbersome, even though the systems themselves were all excellent,” says Höling. “From an operational perspective, users had to monitor three different systems to make sure they didn’t miss anything, which was inconvenient. Equally, it was very difficult for the management team to get an overview of the status of each project and check that everything was running on schedule.”
Creating a single solution
The Sennheiser IT team wanted to create a single solution for project management and collaboration for Sennheiser worldwide, in order to help team members and managers work more efficiently. At the same time, they wanted to preserve their investment in the existing systems and avoid reinventing the wheel.
“The obvious answer was to integrate the existing systems into a single solution that would provide easy web-based access to all project-related information and tools,” says Höling. “Ideally, it should also be designed in a modular way that would allow us to show different information to different users, depending on their role.”
The in-house team consulted GIS for advice on the best way to meet these requirements. GIS recommended deploying the GIS Enterprise Project List (GIS EPL) solution, which uses IBM WebSphere Portal to orchestrate the existing applications and present them to users anywhere in the world via a standard web browser interface.
“GIS has been a key partner for Sennheiser for many years, and they really know our business and our IT infrastructure,” comments Höling. “As a result, they understand our problems and help us solve them, instead of just trying to sell us software. Their proposal to use the GIS EPL solution for this integration project was exactly the right choice, because the IBM WebSphere Portal technology provides simple role-based access and is easy to integrate with other standards-based systems.”
GIS helped the in-house team deploy GIS EPL, installing IBM WebSphere Portal and integrating it with the GIS Project for Lotus Notes application, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections and the iNotes® webmail solution. The company also began using Lotus Connections to create an internal network of employee profiles, IBM Lotus Sametime® to enable instant messaging and web conferencing, and IBM OmniFind as a search solution. Secure, role-based access is provided by LDAP directory services – helping to ensure that each user sees the information that is most relevant to them.
“With GIS EPL, everything is focused around the projects themselves,” explains Höling. “When a user logs in, they can see a list of all the projects that they are working on, and click through to individual projects to review the current status, the profiles and online presence of the other team members, the project blog and activities, and the document library, discussion forum and wiki. It’s very simple, and helps the user understand every aspect of the project very quickly.”
The solution was initially used in a small pilot project within the IT department, and was then adopted to manage a larger CRM project for several Sennheiser subsidiaries.
“At first we will use GIS EPL within the IT department, but the ultimate plan is for all areas of the business to use it to manage their projects,” says Höling. “It’s such a versatile solution that we’re confident that it can be extended to meet the needs of any project within Sennheiser: WebSphere Portal is aligned with the principles of a service-oriented architecture, so integrating additional tools and applications into the portal should be relatively easy.”
The rollout of GIS EPL is still at an early stage, but Sennheiser is already seeing the benefits. In addition to making life easier for the project teams themselves, the portal also provides increased transparency for managers.
“It’s possible to get a complete overview across the whole project portfolio – which is something we couldn’t do before,” says Höling. “As a result, we have a better idea of which projects are going well, which are behind schedule, which need more resources, and so on. Moreover, because people who are not directly involved in a project can still drill down and see what is happening, they can share their knowledge and make suggestions to help the project team.”
Enhancing international collaboration
With Sametime instant messaging and web conferencing built into the GIS EPL portal through the use of ‘business cards’, there is less need for team members to travel for meetings – which is a major advantage for international projects, where travel expenses can be considerable.
“GIS EPL and IBM WebSphere Portal provide a fast, clear and efficient way of managing projects, particularly when stakeholders are working at different sites or in different countries,” concludes Höling. “The ability to log in via a simple web browser and access all the tools and information our users need is a big advantage. Looking to the future, we’re planning to introduce BlackBerry access too, which will make the solution even more valuable for our highly mobile workforce.”
Helping international teams work together more effectively
Project data, documentation, tools and resources from numerous systems are collected and orchestrated into a single, easy-to-use web portal.
Project team members, managers and interested parties from all over the world can log into the portal to view and update project information, find colleagues, communicate and collaborate in real time.
By leveraging knowledge and insight from experts across the globe, the portal enables every project to access Sennheiser’s best intellectual resources – enhancing operations and ensuring optimal management.
Products and services used
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2010 IBM Deutschland GmbH 71137 Ehningen Germany Produced in Germany October 2010 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Lotus, Lotus Notes, Quickr, Sametime, iNotes, OmniFind and WebSphere are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. GIS Project for Lotus Notes and GIS Enterprise Project List are products of GIS. IBM and GIS are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor GIS makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.