GT Advanced Technologies partners with Capgemini to integrate SAP with Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint for better management of purchase orders
GT Advanced Technologies (formerly GT Solar) is a global supplier of polysilicon production equipment and crystalline growth systems and material for a variety of industries, including the solar and LED markets. The company’s products and services help to enable sustainable energy practices, as they are used by the solar energy and LED industries.
Like any large manufacturing operation, GT Advanced Technologies needs to buy large amounts of raw materials. Every day, it handles an average of over 300 purchase orders (POs), each of which requires immediate attention. However, its PO approval process used to be cumbersome and varied from one part of the organisation to another. All in all, PO approvals were taking up too much of managers’ time.
The company was keen to simplify and standardise the PO approval process. It also wanted to be able to get a detailed view of every PO as well as related intelligence, including information about where it stood in the queue, related stock details, and history.
At the same time, GT Advanced Technologies recognised this need as an opportunity to make its SAP® solution more accessible for occasional users. The SAP solution had been in place for many years, but had seen very limited use by managers.
Tom Doyle, the company’s vice president of information technology, knew that it was unrealistic to suggest managers should just start using SAP for their PO activities. “Our managers were not going to be effective in navigating native SAP screens when they only use them a few times a month.” The managers were, however, comfortable with Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint, so these looked liked obvious candidates to provide the front end.
Via its SAP support centre, Capgemini was a long-standing provider of outsourced SAP support to GT Advanced Technologies, and so the company turned to Capgemini’s ERP+ team for help. This dedicated group provides the full range of skills and expertise necessary to integrate SAP and Microsoft solutions. Doyle says, “When our Capgemini account manager told me about the ERP+ team, I realised it was a great fit for our objective of linking SAP with Microsoft technologies.”
Collaborating closely with the client’s IT team, Capgemini’s ERP+ specialists designed, developed, and delivered a PO approval portal, based on SharePoint and ERP+ with Duet Enterprise. Duet Enterprise acts as a fully integrated bridge between SAP and Microsoft technologies.
POs in SAP are now synced with Microsoft SharePoint, effectively in real time. End users can now easily create, view, and approve or reject POs via a familiar Microsoft interface.
As intended, GT Advanced Technologies now has a highly streamlined PO processing approach, and is also getting more use out of its SAP solution.
When a PO is presented for approval, the PO detail and contextual information appear together on a single screen, facilitating quick and accurate decision making. Besides providing senior managers with a dashboard displaying real-time PO data, the solution also offers bulk approve and reject operations.
SharePoint’s InfoPath forms pull in data directly from SAP so that, by using the portal, managers are interacting with SAP processes without the need to deal with native SAP screens. That means SAP will be used more and GT will get more from its investment.
Doyle says, “Our executive teams and mobile users now have the ability to review and approve purchase orders from outside of the SAP environment, and from their mobile devices while travelling. This has greatly improved the purchase order approval process.”