Thorntons chocolate is one of the most familiar names on the UK high street, providing chocolate lovers with decedent treats since 1911.
With stores all over the UK and a large distribution network, Thorntons needed to upgrade their Document Management (DM) and Accounts Payable (AP) solution to meet increasing business demands and support the future growth of the company. IT Project Manager, Amanda Davenport has been with Thorntons for over 10 years, previously in the role of Head of Financial Services. The incumbent solution was Invu 5.4, spanning over 45 business areas, departments and processes. The solution had developed rapidly in terms of both the numbers of users and number of documents stored, to the point where they had filled all available disk space on their existing servers.
"I wanted to have a user friendly, reliable DM system that was easy to use and could grow with the business – and I'm pleased to say we've achieved that."
A selection box of upgrades
Thorntons processes a large number of invoices each year and wanted to remove the pain of indexing all those invoices manually by implementing an electronic data capture tool. The existing Invu 5.4 solution did not support this function, therefore it was clear that the time had come to upgrade this fundamental and core system of the Thorntons infrastructure. The business needed a solution that could accurately capture, record and monitor documents as well as provide insight into the financial expenditure of the business. In addition, Thorntons needed a complete overhaul of their internal filing structure and seamless integration with existing MS Office applications.
Davenport explains the situation in 2015, "We hadn't released any upgrades to our document management software since 2006 and it had reached the point where it was limiting our business capability. The version of Windows we had wasn't compatible and we'd lost all the add-in functionalities for the MS Office packages."
The solution was no longer fit for purpose for the business, therefore the implementation didn't just involve upgrading the technical functionality. Davenport explains, "Our users were unable to take full advantage of Invu due to the dated version of the system we had, so we had a big challenge to change the perception of users within the business who had used the processes for the past 10 years."
Thorntons assessed the market to determine the competitive solutions available in order to provide benchmark for success. A crucial criterion of the new supplier was the ability to integrate with ABBYY Data Capture. Invu has been a Gold Certified Partner with ABBYY since 2012, demonstrating expertise and a proven ability to meet ABBYY customer needs. The established partner status with ABBYY, the knowledge Invu had of Thorntons and the speed in which Invu proposed the upgrade made them the preferred partner for the project. In October 2015 Thorntons embarked on the journey to upgrade their DM and AP solution to achieve improved speed, efficiency and accuracy of document capture.
"The Super Users were instrumental to encouraging overall user adoption in different business departments."
Encouraging user adoption
The upgrade from Invu 5.4 to Series 6 took just six-months from October 2015 to March 2016 before all testing was complete, the servers were live and Thorntons employees were beginning to reap the benefits of the new functionality. This is testament to not only the technical support team, but also to the communications plan within Thorntons led by Davenport to encourage user adoption. She explains, "Currently we have approximately 120 users and 30 'Super Users'. The Super Users were instrumental to encouraging overall user adoption in different business departments. Super Users included representatives from Finance, HR, Marketing, the factory, Purchasing and Quality Assurance. We made it clear not to draw comparisons to the Invu of old and to treat Series 6 for what it was – a brand new solution. Therefore we asked them to be clear about their expectations and what they wanted to achieve from that new solution for their department."
Davenport continues, "Knowing the Invu solution as well as we did, we split out the training into departmental groups so that they could focus on the applications that were specific to their use. After training the Super Users, they could then conduct their own testing of the solution to understand how Series 6 supports their business function before we went 'live' and rolled out across the company."
With the go live day approaching, measures were put in place to ensure that any challenges could be solved instantly. Davenport explains, "We made sure we had 'floor walkers' available onsite the day Series 6 went live. We wanted to make sure that if users experienced any pain points we made it as easy as possible to resolve them there and then. As a consequence of this approach it was apparent to the business that rather than issues being left, they were going to be addressed immediately – this really helped end user adoption."
The benefits to Thorntons have been instant and user feedback is extremely positive. A completely fresh approach was adopted for the upgrade from the outset, from security and user groups, to folder structure and training, Thorntons approached the upgrade as though they'd never used Invu before.
Over 10 years, the folder structure became unmanageable. With no clear control or security permissions users were left to manage the folder structure based on their own preference. This was a challenge which needed to be addressed as part of the upgrade as Davenport explains, "With the help of our project manager from Invu – who was absolutely excellent – we reviewed the folder structures and introduced a brand new folder structure for the factory, which has been very well received by the team and has helped me out no end. It wasn't just about improving the use of the system, it also improved the system set up and management through security profiles and grouping."
Davenport continues, "I wanted to have a user friendly, reliable document management system that was so easy to use and could grow with the business – and I'm pleased to say we've achieved that."
"Knowing the Invu solution as well as we did, we split out the training into departmental groups so that they could focus on the applications that were specific to their use."
In addition to the benefits, Davenport explains it's the softer benefits which have also been a revelation, "For me, a significant measure of success is when I am walking down a corridor and somebody will stop me saying, 'Amanda I absolutely love the new Invu. Why didn't we do this years ago?' That has happened a few times where people will stop me and say "The new Invu, wonderful!"
As a previous customer of Invu, the relationship between the two organisations was well established. Members of the Invu team involved in the 2016 upgrade had been involved in the original 2006 rollout. This proved valuable to support user adoption and when involved in regular project meetings. A key component of ensuring the success of software solution upgrades or implementations requires making the right choice of business partner. This extends beyond the software solution itself and into professional expertise and implementation services. This project underlines the fact that through careful selection of a proven supplier that understands and listens to the business goals of the customer, a speedy and effective implementation is achievable.
"For me, a significant measure of success is when I am walking down a corridor and somebody will stop me saying, 'Amanda I absolutely love the new Invu. Why didn't we do this years ago?' That has happened a few times where people will stop me and say "The new Invu, wonderful!"
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