Vössing has hundreds of engineers working with dozens of partners on thousands of infrastructure projects worldwide. How could the company enable effective communication to help keep work on track?
Thanks to cutting-edge collaboration solutions from IBM, employees at Vössing can access knowledge, ask questions and find answers rapidly—empowering them to share expert insights and best practices.
Daysof research replaced by rapid questions and answers, search and find
Rapidadoption demonstrates that employees value the solution
Avoidsup to 15x higher spend on comparable ERP, CRM and HR platforms
Business challenge story
Navigating shifting sands
Engineering company Vössing manages thousands of infrastructure projects—including roads, bridges and rail networks—in more than 15 countries worldwide. These construction projects are highly complex, last several years and involve many stakeholders and subcontractors, so keeping the wheels turning smoothly to meet critical deadlines is no easy task.
Bernd Gewehr, Head of IT at Vössing, explains: “Any given project is likely to involve scores of our in-house employees and about a dozen specialist subcontractors. To keep the project running smoothly, we need to inform all relevant parties of updates quickly and efficiently. Similarly, if employees change roles and we have new people involved in a project, we need to be able to bring them up-to-speed rapidly.
“To further complicate matters, construction guidelines, regulations and materials can vary substantially between different countries and change frequently. Engineers cannot assume that what worked a few months ago will be in line with current best practices; instead, they need to check and double-check every last detail. Previously, engineers often had to spend days sifting through long documents to find the precise details they were searching for—only to find that the rules had not changed after all.
“We wanted to help our highly talented engineers work more productively, so we set out to find a better way to help them share knowledge within their global community.”
Laying the foundations of robust teamwork
To support efficient teamwork, Vössing relies on a sophisticated set of collaboration tools from IBM Connections Cloud, featuring an intranet, instant messaging, virtual meetings, online communities and blogs. To access emails from their desktop clients, employees use IBM SmartCloud® Notes®. They can also use IBM Verse® to work with emails on standard web browsers, and the IBM Verse mobile app to access messages on mobile devices. Vössing’s entire communication and collaboration stack is based on IBM solutions in the cloud.
To catch up on the latest news on a project, or to brush up their knowledge on the latest regulations for a certain type of construction, engineers log into IBM Connections to search the available information, post questions and provide answers to colleagues’ enquiries.
“The collaboration solutions from IBM enable engineers to avoid days of research, and instead gain rapid answers to their questions by tapping into the community’s existing knowledge,” continues Bernd Gewehr. “The vast majority of employees regularly access the collaboration hub. Even people who don’t use social media in their personal lives and don’t like to participate in discussions themselves appreciate the resource, because it helps them work more productively.”
Employees can access the IBM collaboration solutions using personal or company-owned mobile devices, helping them work productively from their home, while traveling, at a construction site, or anywhere else with an internet connection.
To empower employees to complete a broader range of tasks on-the-go, Vössing has developed an IBM Domino® XPages responsive web app that enables them to work on core business processes from the ERP, CRM and HR systems using their mobile devices. The app integrates seamlessly with the company’s enterprise applications, which are predominantly built on the IBM Domino platform. To enhance its agility, Vössing is working to support more of its business processes on mobile devices and via a web interface in the short future.
Thanks to customization of the IBM Connections Cloud user interface, business processes appear right in the central enterprise collaboration front-end, giving employees a single digital workplace that consolidates diverse information, including typical intranet content, operations, processes and transactions.
Vössing looks forward to upcoming IBM Domino releases, which show long-term commitment and support from IBM and will allow for ongoing maintenance and further development of desktop, web and mobile applications for mission-critical business operations.
Vössing is adding IBM Watson Workspace plus to its collaboration environment for employees and customers, and is pleased that Zoom video meetings are now seamlessly built into Watson Workspace—giving teams another frictionless way to collaborate quickly and effectively. The partnership brings the unique capability of escalating any chat within a space or direct message to a video meeting with the click of a button. The ability of Watson Workspace to understand and act on the conversation allows new future ways to automate processes in project collaboration using AI.
Nailing efficient, effective collaboration
By fueling efficient, effective collaboration, the IBM solutions are helping engineers to share knowledge rapidly and save days on research. And to further enhance teamwork, Vössing plans to roll out the solutions to external subcontractors and suppliers in the future.
Bernd Gewehr elaborates: “Our vision is that whenever we win a new contract, we establish a dedicated community in IBM Connections and invite all internal and external participants involved in the project. People will agree timelines and next steps via online discussions, replacing massive volumes of email and giving everyone a clear view of the current status and previous actions.”
Vössing is confident that building its business on the IBM Domino platform has helped it to avoid substantial operational and capital costs.
"Our analysis of the market showed that the total cost of ownership for a full set of standard ERP, CRM and HR systems would have been at least 15 times higher than developing and running our own specialized applications on IBM Domino," comments Bernd Gewehr.
Additionally, Vössing plans to enhance its analytical and predictive capabilities by taking advantage of cognitive and machine-learning technologies from IBM Watson®. For example, the company hopes to sharpen its ability to accurately predict the likely profitability of new projects, so that it can make smarter decisions about which contracts to bid for.
Bernd Gewehr concludes: “IBM encourages me to stretch my ambitions, and then gives me the tools to turn my vision into reality. Cutting-edge solutions from IBM are already helping us to work smarter and more productively than ever before, and we have more exciting stuff in the pipeline.”
Engineering firm Vössing specializes in providing planning, construction supervising and project-management services in major infrastructure projects, such as building new roads, bridges and rail networks. Headquartered in Düsseldorf, the company has 14 offices across Germany as well as operations in China, Qatar, Austria, Poland and Slovenia. In total, the company employs over 500 people and manages over 12,000 infrastructure projects in more than 15 countries worldwide.