Alfresco Content Services has become the main system for technical documentation at Stadtwerke München, providing open, flexible and highly scalable ECM functions as well as all the advantages of a modern content services platform. Due to its seamless integration with the everyday business applications of SWM users, the solution ensures that contents of all types are available anytime and anywhere: Employees can access documents, contracts, drawings, inspections approvals, bills and agreements – including, for example, the complete technical documentation of a new mains connection. At the same time, cost calculations embedded in construction files are stored separately for each business division. This further increases the level of diversification, which can be mapped easily with the solution.
In addition, Alfresco offers powerful search functions. These have become one of its most used features, because they enable Stadtwerke München to keep track of lengthy processes spanning the entire lifecycle of buildings. As a result, the company is currently in the process of switching from third-party add-ons to the platform’s native functions.
This fast and structured way of accessing stored documents over long periods of time has become increasingly important as underlying conditions for specific processes and tasks have changed repeatedly over the years. Besides, SWM needs strict version control to ensure that, for example, each construction file is still valid years later – despite numerous retrievals and adjustments.
Seamless integration with SAP and other solutions
Since the organizational structure of SWM comprises several divisions, the company’s software environment is highly diverse. In the commercial departments, for instance, documents are frequently exchanged via SharePoint services. Here, “Alfresco demonstrates its strengths by interacting constantly with our other solutions – especially those systems we use for technical documentation,” says Wolfgang Kress, Head of Integration and Services, Enterprise Solutions at SWM IT.
More specifically, the Munich utility company is able to operate three different environments for documents-based processes: SharePoint for Office documents, another tool for inspection protocols and other SAP-related documents and Alfresco for processes with constant changes and adjustments. “And the interplay of all these programs and application processes via Alfresco is truly exemplary,” Wolfgang Kress adds.
One main reason for this are the SWM employees, who are very tech-savvy and like to be hands-on in the development, programming and optimization processes. “The open-source concept of Alfresco comes in very handy, as we can make individual adjustments whenever needed and without much effort,” Dieter Hauer reports.
Of the approximately 10,000 SWM employees, around 4,000 use the Alfresco solution. Despite the high number of users, the solution always operates smoothly. Wolfgang Kress explains: “Over the past few years, we haven't received any complaints regarding system performance or the operability of our front-end tools. All our users use Alfresco without any issues.”
Many of SWM's standard applications have their own archive or document management system in place. “This is oftentimes not sufficient for our applications, which is why we also use Alfresco for this purpose,” technical expert Dieter Hauer explains. About 10 applications are now connected to the Hyland solution.
Fully satisfied with Alfresco
Alfresco has been in extensive use at SWM for more than 10 years and will continue to play an important role for Stadtwerke München. The latest hot topic is data mining, as the management of the company aims to drive the detection and processing of metadata. At the same time, the team is working on digital twins and data optimization, areas in which “ECM plays a significant part,” according to Dieter Hauer.
SWM's verdict on Alfresco is positive all round: “The platform’s native stability, powerful tools and ease of use, combined with our close contact with its provider, are the main reasons we are fully satisfied with Alfresco,” Dieter Hauer explains. “We are able to integrate other solutions via standard APIs. We also highly value the possibility of developing our own front-ends and modules with standard methods and protocols as well as the enormous degree of freedom that the Alfresco open-source system offers,” Wolfgang Kress adds.