With 2200 personnel, Bewel is one of Limburg’s biggest employers. Following an internal survey, the customisation specialists wanted to bring in changes to improve communication, information sharing and collaboration in the organisation. Cegeka was their trusted IT partner for the project.
Bewel is an organisation that provides employment for people who have been away from the job market for some time. They are not only given posts within Bewel, but also sent on site with Bewel’s customers, who come from all kinds of sectors. The Limburg-based customisation specialist has nine sites, with an IT park managed by a team of four.
“A few years back, some of the other departments fed back to the IT department a concern that they were not being given enough input into the software that they had to use. Nobody was asking them how things actually work on the shop floor”, explains IT Manager Marc Castermans. “We took this criticism on board, and started trying to think more creatively about what was really needed on the shop floor, without letting ourselves be tied down by the tools we were currently using. We wanted to give everyone in the company a chance to participate in a discussion about what wasn’t working in terms of IT, and what they needed most urgently.”
Information sharing, communication and collaboration
Marc Castermans felt that initially the IT department needed to distance itself from the exercise as much as possible, so that his team wouldn’t unconsciously steer the outcome in a particular direction: “We asked Cegeka to facilitate for us. We already had a fruitful partnership with the company – they’ve been working with us for over fifteen years as our IT partner for infrastructure and network services”.
Cegeka also organised workshops with a ‘champions group’. This consisted of fifteen people drawn from throughout the departments, who could feed back their findings. “Some of the workshops were held without anyone from our IT department present”, explains Castermans. “We wanted to signal to our shop floor teams that it was about hearing their views, their needs.”
One theme in particular emerged above all else from the workshops: intercommunication. Cegeka drilled down to identify three specific areas that would be targeted for improvement at Bewel: information sharing, communication and collaboration. Marc Castermans explains the next stage: “We then asked Cegeka and our other IT partner to put together a proposal for how we could make real improvements in the organisation. We do have to remember that we are a non-profit organisation and need to think very carefully about how we use our money. But Cegeka assured us that their focus would not be on trying to plug a gap with technology, but on creating the right change management pathway.”
“Cegeka assured us that their focus would not be on trying to plug a gap with technology, but on creating the right change management pathway.”
Marc Castermans, IT Manager at Bewel
On schedule, within budget
For the “information sharing” and “communication” prongs of the project, Cegeka updated Bewel’s intranet with a Microsoft SharePoint system. The technology for “collaboration” was implemented by replacing shared network directories by Microsoft Teams. “As one of the outcomes of the workshops with the champions, Cegeka drew up a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves”, explains Marc Castermans. “This gave us a basis when they sat down with our IT department to develop the project plan. The list was also useful while the infrastructure was being set up – it served as something of a roadmap to help us get everything completed within the planned budget and on schedule”.
One of the points that the improvement project aimed to respond to was a criticism that communication was always one-way, top to bottom. The SharePoint system has changed this: any department supervisor can create a site that the people working in their department can use to communicate with each other. “The transition to Teams has also helped with collaborating on documents and accessibility from the shop floor”, Castermans continues. “It has other benefits, too: now, when our shop floor workers move between sites, they can immediately find all the information they need. They used to have to go digging for it every time”.
Telephony with Teams
Cegeka also integrated telephony into Microsoft Teams. The mobile numbers of the 200 people who work on the shop floors are kept hidden when they use the Teams app on their smartphone to make a call – the recipient just sees their fixed number. What’s more, they can be reached on this number from anywhere, both via smartphone and on their computer using Teams. “We’re still working with Cegeka to determine the best practices in this domain, as we don’t have mobile coverage in all areas”, says Castermans.
The integrated telephony in Teams is very useful for the workers. When they’re working together on a document, or looking for information about a client, they can quickly call each other from the same program. “Every one of our Bewel sites also has at least one call queue”, adds Castermans. “This is a central number that can be answered by any one of a number of people. As soon as one of these people logs into Teams, calls to the central number will be forwarded to that person.”
Cegeka didn’t just handle the technical implementation at Bewel; the IT experts also took responsibility for the change pathway. “Things got somewhat interrupted by the pandemic, but Cegeka made up for the difficulties by working intensively with our champions. In turn, our champions became ambassadors within their departments. They made sure that their teammates were on board with the changes and showed them how to use the new systems for their work. The Cegeka engineers kept in very close contact with the champions. And our champions really valued this – they appreciated the way their voices were being heard.”
“The Cegeka engineers kept in very close contact with our users. And our users really valued this – they appreciated the way their voices were being heard.”
Marc Castermans, IT Manager at Bewel