Inspire Technologies GmbH
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dg hyparchive portal extension dg hyparchive portal extension Emons Spedition GmbH
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Resourcing platform & invoice processing Resourcing platform & invoice processing GFT Technologies AG
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Central Business Process Management for the Globus-stores Central Business Process Management for the Globus-stores Globus Fachmärkte GmbH & Co. KG
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OBI relies on Business Process Management with BPM inspire

OBI's particular aim is to be the pioneer for the entire DIY sector. To be an innovator that sets the benchmarks. OBI defines the market and fights for pole position everywhere it has a store. OBI sets the trends – in its range of products, its store layout and the purchasing experience for its customers. OBI is the clear leader in the German construction and DIY sector and the market leader in Europe. At present, the company has more than 330 OBI Markt stores in Germany. In addition, there are more than 180 OBI Markt stores in 12 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In financial year 2007/2008, the OBI Markt stores generated revenues of Euros 5.8 billion. OBI employs a workforce of 38,000 staff. OBI Markt stores are managed either as wholly-owned OBI AG sites, as franchises, or as joint ventures.


After many years of increasing its market share and achieving ever greater business volumes, OBI came to the conclusion that the company needed to make its accounting processes, and invoice processing in particular, fit for the future. Christian Lindner, Senior Project Manager at OBI, carried out a detailed investigation of the opportunities a new electronic invoice processing solution could provide for the company in digitizing the mountains of paper invoices and helping process them quickly. The dream solution needed to clearly map OBI's business-specific processes and integrate the company's existing databases. For that reason, the company selected the flexible Business Process Management suite created by Inspire Technologies. The BPM inspire software has helped OBI achieve a paper-free invoice workflow that is tailored to its own company processes and ensures complete transparency.


Increased efficiency and improved control
OBI's central system office in Wermelskirchen, Germany, receives around 100 invoices from a wide variety of vendors every day. Paper invoices are received by the accounting department and entered in the electronic invoicing system. The invoices are first checked by the person responsible for the relevant cost center to ensure they are correct, and then approved for payment. Manual approval is no longer required for paper invoices. Using this approach, all the procedures are archived uniformly in the system, and can be traced at any time.


By defining individual escalation mechanisms, OBI has been able to reduce the amount of time an invoice spends in each department and relieve the workload on the internal mail system. BPM inspire's messaging system sends e-mails to the relevant members of staff twice a day, to inform them about new up-coming tasks. Members of staff are also automatically informed if there are any questions about an invoicing transaction, if they have received a response to one of their own queries, or if a task that has not been completed has been sent to their line manager. "This precisely defined approvals process, with its specified escalation intervals, has sped up invoice processing enormously," explained Lindner. "Nowadays, we can approve an invoice in 2 or 3 days, rather than the 6 to 8 days it took previously. Another benefit is that we no longer miss any invoices or simply leave them sitting around waiting to be processed. If a transaction remains unprocessed for 2 working days it is automatically reported to the next level up."


Simple integration and database connections
BPM inspire has also impressed OBI by its flexibility and the ease with which it has been adapted to meet the company's specific requirements. The standard version of the solution was already able to handle the majority of OBI's processes – including as it does, functions for selecting and identifying documents, creating individual logs and connecting to the ERP system. OBI also required compliance with the double-checking principle in the invoice approval process. An invoice must be thoroughly checked by one employee and then approved for payment by a different member of staff. BPM inspire's flexible and adaptable interface also meant a wizard function could be added to it without any trouble. BPM inspire has integrated access to OBI's signatures database (developed in-house) where data about approval thresholds and deputies for cost center specialists is stored to make it easier to find out which approvals hierarchy has to be used. This data is then compared with the Lotus Notes database to determine who is responsible for the escalation process and their deputies. BPM inspire modeled and implemented the plausibility checks and the defined escalation scenarios step by step for each specific customer and to meet OBI's requirements: "In practice, if a process turned out to be different from what we'd originally planned, BPM inspire was always able to redesign it and adapt it to the actual procedures," said Lindner. Additional benefits: Extended access options, using a VPN link, and flexible invoice processing either from a home office or when someone is on a business trip. BPM inspire has been fully integrated in the OBI intranet, so it can be used easily by any member of staff. At present the application is available in English, Czech and German, and can be extended to handle other languages with relatively little effort. As a result, OBI is well equipped to implement its system in any country without encountering a language barrier.


"BPM inspire has completely satisfied all of our expectations for an automated invoice processing system," stated Lindner. "The cost accounting workflow has enabled us to speed up our invoice processing and also optimize quality. Missed deadlines and cash discount losses are now a thing of the past. In addition to saving both time and money, we also benefit from newly achieved levels of transparency in all our invoicing and planning processes. Thanks to BPM inspire, we can now view the current status of every single transaction and easily trace completed processes back to the start." BPM inspire's open interfaces architecture has given OBI a future-proof BPM solution with a whole range of options (for example HR processes, automated incoming mail processing, complaints management, and much more), which will grow alongside the continued European expansion of this leading construction and DIY chain.