Ferservizi provides back-office services that support Italy’s main railway operator. Under intense cost pressures, how could Ferservizi find a way to manage people and processes more efficiently?
Ferservizi partnered with IBM and SAP to create an integrated, digital operations solution that removes paper-based processes, introduces automation, and empowers staff to work more effectively.
400,000invoices and 1 million payslips now generated and processed digitally every year
EUR 2 millionsaved in printing costs
30%boost to employee productivity
Business challenge story
On a journey towards smarter content management
Providing safe, fast, efficient passenger journeys across Italy’s complex rail network is no easy task for Ferrovie dello Stato, the country’s largest railway company. To keep the wheels of business turning smoothly, Ferrovie dello Stato relies on Ferservizi to manage back-office operations.
“Ferservizi was established with the mission to provide Ferrovie dello Stato with comprehensive central services,” describes Massimo Ristoratore, IT Manager at Ferservizi. “This leaves Ferrovie dello Stato free to focus on developing and improving its rail system, as well as enhancing the passenger experience aboard its trains, while Ferservizi delivers business administration management.
“Cost-optimization and operational efficiency are at the heart of Ferrovie dello Stato’s business, which means that we at Ferservizi are constantly being asked to do more with less. To make sure we are running as efficiently as possible, we undertake comprehensive reviews of our processes, looking for potential areas for improvement.”
Ferservizi highlighted that most of its operations relied on manual, paper-driven methods, which resulted in long waiting times to obtain documents and a high risk of human error. This was particularly evident in two core areas of the business: accounts payable and payroll.
Massimo Ristoratore explains: “Ferservizi processes around 400,000 invoices payable a year, and manages payroll services for Ferrovie dello Stato’s 63,000 employees. Imagine the time, paper, money and resources required to handle all of this manually. Additionally, long, complex manual processes were taking their toll on staff’s attitudes towards their job, often making them feel anxious or frustrated, and dulling their productivity.”
The Ferservizi team knew that these manual processes were no longer sufficient for Ferrovie dello Stato and the company took the opportunity to review the core aspects of its operations.
Less paper, better outcomes
Seeking a better way to manage its enterprise data, Ferservizi began conducting comprehensive reviews and evaluations of the most advanced content management systems on the market.
Roberto Di Chio, IT and End-User Manager at Ferservizi, comments: “Ferservizi has been collaborating with IBM and SAP for years now, and we felt utterly comfortable when choosing to team up with them for this project. We needed an innovative, reliable content management system, and this could only be delivered by world-class players such as IBM and SAP.”
Underpinning the new approach, Ferservizi has deployed IBM® FileNet® Content Manager as a natural evolution of its existing IBM FileNet Image Services system, leveraging the platform’s native content federation and migration capabilities. FileNet Content Manager provides a centralized repository for the company’s electronic content, enabling users to access digital documents at the touch of a button. The platform is tightly integrated with SAP ERP and SAP Payroll Processing applications, used to calculate wages for Ferrovie dello Stato’s employees.
“In the past, we produced around 70,000 printed pay advice slips each month, consuming large amounts of paper, ink and energy,” recalls Roberto Di Chio. “Working with IBM, we now make digital documents available directly through IBM FileNet Content Manager, via an intranet portal which is easily accessible by the staff. Changing from paper-based to fully digital processes removes delays and eliminates complexity, and simultaneously introduces a high degree of automation that helps us cut costs.”
Similarly, Ferservizi reviewed processes elsewhere in the business, and highlighted the manual receipt, management and processing of invoices payable – more than 400,000 documents annually. How could Ferservizi eliminate these paper processes and make the data available digitally within its core SAP finance applications?
Roberto Di Chio reports: “Ferservizi selected IBM Datacap, IBM FileNet Content Manager and IBM Content Navigator to transform information on paper into rich electronic content that can be imported into our SAP environment, where they can be easily accessed and analyzed at any given time, and used to drive timely invoice processing.”
All of the electronic content is stored in a central IBM FileNet Content Management repository, integrated with Ferservizi’s SAP applications. To search for and access files, Ferservizi takes advantage of IBM Content Navigator, which features a simple, intuitive and user-friendly interface.
Roberto di Chio notes: “Being able to process invoices payable digitally means that we are faster, more efficient and more cost-savvy – and gives us a brand-new ability to uncover insights that were previously buried by paper. For example, we can now analyze accounts payable to discover crucial information on waste and sustainability, which are hot topics within our industry at the moment. This transformative knowledge helps us become greener and more proactive in planning and managing future expenditure.”
Massimo Ristoratore adds: “The integration between our SAP and our IBM landscapes is enabled by IBM Content Collector for SAP Applications, which we use to archive our SAP documents. We have also enriched the content held in our SAP environment by linking documents in IBM FileNet Content Manager, such as invoices and e-mails, to transactions in SAP ERP.”
Speeding towards full digitization
Making the cutting-edge move to digitized content and process transactions has enabled Ferservizi to standardize and simplify critical accounts payable and payroll operations. Newfound efficiencies are delivering big cost savings, which have enabled the company to achieve a full return on investment in just 18 months.
Massimo Ristoratore comments: “By processing around 400,000 invoices payable and almost one million paychecks digitally each year, we have saved approximately EUR 2 million in printing and postage costs in the first year following deployment. What do we do with this huge amount of savings? We re-invest it into devising best practices and smarter ways of working, which make our business better and help both us and Ferrovie dello Stato succeed.
“Furthermore, going digital gives us the ability to generate, process and analyze invoices much faster and more accurately than before. As a result, we can make timelier payments, which translates into happier, more efficient relationships with Ferrovie dello Stato’s suppliers – a win-win situation.”
Crucially, the IBM and SAP solutions have also revolutionized the user experience and work performance of Ferrovie dello Stato’s staff.
Roberto Di Chio explains: “Initially, there was a bit of cultural resistance as we moved away from traditional, long-established paper processes towards a new way of working. As soon as the staff got to grips with the IBM and SAP solutions and discovered their potential, they started noticing how much faster and more efficiently they can perform their jobs. Some employees provided exceptional feedback, letting us know that they now come to work with a more positive, less anxious outlook, and have re-discovered a true passion for their job.”
Building on the success gained with help from IBM and SAP, Ferservizi is already looking to an even brighter future. The company will soon be digitizing the rest of its processes, with a particular focus on employee management.
Roberto Di Chio gives an example: “Some of Ferrovie dello Stato’s employees work daily with potentially harmful machinery and equipment, and need to receive regular medical check-ups. In the past, their medical files were printed and stored in large cabinets in specific offices, whereas with the new solution everything will be digitized and available on the staff intranet portal. Employees will be able to access and view all the information they require – including special permits and holiday allowance – at the touch of a button. Virtually the entire relationship between the employee and the employer will be digitized and readily available at all times, and this will make each employee feel more empowered and in greater control of his or her professional situation.”
Massimo Ristoratore comments: “Combining a more satisfied and productive workforce with faster and more efficient suppliers paves the way for tangible business results. For Ferrovie dello Stato, this translates into the ability to improve rail networks, focus on marketing strategies, and ultimately deliver a great customer experience to its passengers.”
He concludes: “For Ferservizi, managing crucial areas of our business such as accounts payable and payroll digitally with the IBM and SAP solutions has truly transformed the way we work. We are already looking forward to taking the rest of our business digital, providing enhanced services to Ferrovie dello Stato, its staff, and train travelers.”
Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Rome, Italy, Ferservizi controls the totality of the non-core, back-office operations of Italy’s flagship rail operator, Ferrovie dello Stato. With 1,550 employees and 15 operating centers, the company provides a wide array of support services to Ferrovie dello Stato’s 65,000 staff, spread across the whole country, with a commitment to being environmentally and economically sustainable.
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