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Plenty of light instead of shadows by means of intelligent business process automation

Partner: Boss Info

Venetian blinds, roller blinds, awnings and innovative controls: Swiss specialist for sun protection systems clears the process thicket

Griesser has been around since 1882 - a family-run business with its headquarters in Aadorf, Switzerland. The combination of 127 years of experience and tradition, coupled with a spirit of innovation, has made the Griesser brand the Swiss market leader and one of Europe's leading suppliers of products and solutions for glare and heat protection. In a total of 29 branches, more than 1,000 employees dedicate themselves to developing high-quality and automatable sun protection systems with meticulousness and a sense of detail. Automatically good! - this is the Griesser motto, which is not only reflected in products and services, but also applies to company-wide business process management. The Swiss specialist for blinds and shutters relies on the Business Process Management (BPM) suite from Inspire Technologies.

Manual work and long distances - eliminating key stumbling blocks
For years, automated process management wasn't an issue at Griesser. For example, all incoming invoices were manually entered into the SAP system by hard-working employees. "There was no IT-supported workflow system", recalls Ruedi Neff, the IT manager at Griesser. "Processes were just mapped on paper forms, and papers were physically passed around". Normally, this way of working worked quite well. However, the continuous growth of the business, which is reflected in the current 300 to 400 incoming invoices per day in eleven offices throughout the country and the need to keep a constant eye on cost efficiency and cash flow, prompted Griesser to look for a suitable BPM solution. "Optimizing vendor cycle times is a key issue for us for ensuring that we can take advantage of cash discounts", continues Neff. "We also wanted more transparency in our manual processes and to increase data quality in order to save money in the long term". It soon became clear that these requirements could only be fulfilled with IT-supported process automation.

Process monitoring becomes process control
The bar in the evaluation process for a suitable solution was set comparatively high at Griesser. This was also one of the reasons why the company brought professional support from its partner PMC Informatik on board, who was also to be responsible for maintenance following the successful implementation and commissioning of the BPM solution. After a careful pre-selection process, a total of three providers remained in the running - including SAP and Inspire Technologies. Only Inspire Technologies was able to fulfil the demanding requirements of Griesser AG to the full extent - particularly thanks to the very customised production. However, in order to be on the safe side, Griesser also spoke to one of the provider's customers who has been using the solution productively for some time. "This fully convinced us that MR.KNOW – BPM was the right solution for us in practice", says Neff. "Business processes are dynamic, so a BPM solution needs to be flexibly adaptable if anything gets out of hand", he continues. "The possibility of updating processes to a new release during operation was something that only MR.KNOW – BPM could provide us with. The processes of alternative providers are often much too bloated, inflexible and hardly scalable, giving you serious reservations about making even a single adjustment right from the start".

Quick results in just three days
After Griesser had given the go-ahead for implementation in close cooperation with Inspire partner PMC Informatik, the project progressed very quickly. The basic installation of MR.KNOW – BPM took only three days to complete. The providers and the partners then set about adapting the accounts payable processes. Other processes for risk management, dunning, investment applications, human resource recruitment, HR accident reporting and hardware and software procurement were gradually implemented in this way. Griesser currently already has 15 core processes running across all areas of the company in all departments, from production to IT and also administration and management. As many as 400 users work with the solution every day, which processes around 400 process instances in the same period of time. "Because the solution is based on a Java-like scripting language, no special in-depth programming knowledge is required to model processes", says a delighted Neff. "This advantage is also currently paying off again, since we can expand the process optimization in the order confirmation area independently and link it to the SAP system at present".

Process control system for clear procedures
The system has been running smoothly at Griesser since day one. "Normally, you come up against the limits of the system relatively quickly after commissioning. So far, we haven't found anything that we couldn't have solved with the software with MR.KNOW – BPM", summarises Neff. The Venetian blind and roller shutter specialist is particularly enthusiastic about the price-performance ratio, quality, flexibility, scope of functionality and integration capability. The same applies to the professional support provided by our partner PMC Informatik. The investments have paid off: The expenditure has already paid for itself after just one and a half years. Since the introduction of the BPM solution, the form throughput for investment applications has been reduced from one week to just half a day. Griesser has also been able to significantly reduce the reminder rate, and is particularly delighted with the high degree of transparency: Employees can track the processes which they have started and therefore know exactly where which task is currently located. "We can now also run evaluations in the liquidity planning area, and simply find out the status quo at the push of a button, i.e. which outstanding invoices are soon due for payment but have not yet been posted in SAP", explains the IT manager. Neff has also discovered that directives and procedures were previously being circumvented: "In some cases, the secretary had signed the investment application instead of the head of department". These slip-ups are now a thing of the past. The boundaries can be set precisely using the new BPM system. The result: Better quality as well as processes which are both transparent and clear. Neff is convinced that "if we told our team that they were going to get their old accounts payable processes back, there would be a mutiny".

Win/Win situation provides user acceptance
However, Griesser is not the only one benefiting from the new BPM system. Clear advantages are also emerging at the supplier side. For example, the Swiss ISR number (payment slip with reference number) which uniquely references the customer when a supplier invoice is paid can now be read in automatically. Until now, this allocation number had to be identified by the supplier in a very laborious way via the invoice amount, which resulted in a considerable amount of additional work. This can now be read and processed automatically when invoices are received - to the delight of the suppliers. But Griesser already has other plans: In the near future, the area of employees leaving the company and the project dossier for documenting the entire project life cycle will be mapped with the aid of the MR.KNOW – BPM suite.


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