Full transparency with Microsoft SharePoint:
700,000 product variants at the push of a button

SMC, a leading global manufacturer, partner and solution provider for pneumatic and electrical automation technology, will be using Microsoft SharePoint Online in the future. With more than 700,000 product variants, which SMC sales successfully markets, the company will benefit in the future from an up-to-date, efficient and at the same time necessary IT solution based on the modern cloud platform Microsoft Office 365.

At SMC, the focus is always on the optimal customer solution. Based on the specific requirements of our customers, SMC realizes individual applications in automation technology. These can consist of a variety of standard products or require customer-specific development. Without a modern, central cloud platform on which supply-relevant product information can be quickly and easily located and retrieved in the required uniformity, this high standard could not be implemented.

The starting signal for a challenging project - PTA consultants provide valuable impetus

The project team was fully committed and it quickly became clear that the legacy Lotus Notes system, which had grown over the years, could no longer meet the high demands of a central cloud platform in the long term. Especially since the documents, applications and workflows stored in the Lotus Notes databases were not maintained in a uniform manner and were therefore difficult to find. With such a differentiated product portfolio, which is a matter of course for SMC, this was a situation that prompted those responsible to migrate to a new, powerful and efficient IT landscape. In addition, the life cycle for Lotus Notes had run its course and the end of support was looming.

A reliable migration partner was therefore needed to carefully analyze all process chains and transfer the old IT landscape to a new, modern target architecture. SMC found the right partner in PTA IT Consulting based in Mannheim. The PTA consultants not only have the knowledge of how to successfully carry out migration projects, but also the necessary process know-how. Thus, in a first project stage, the project team decided to organize a so-called event storming within the scope of a workshop. This is a method in the sense of domain-driven design that ensures that all processes and their business events are put to the test, an actual/target comparison can take place, and finally their processes can be modeled efficiently. “This inventory was a complete success and the ideas that PTA submitted put our project on the right track. The project team was fully on board and focused on taking a close look at our process landscape. The analysis and insights we gained together in this way formed a solid foundation for the subsequent migration to our new platform,” reports Christian Krebs, Expert Digital Business Development at SMC, about the event storming at SMC.

The view of individual subprojects to the big picture

After event storming, it was clear to those involved that the many individual sub-projects, which existed in Lotus Notes in a wide variety of ways, would be best migrated to a central platform that would make all documents, information and associated workflows relevant to the offer available in a uniform and clear manner. The choice fell on Microsoft SharePoint Online, a component of Microsoft Office 365 that bundles and clearly compiles all the information and resources SMC needs on a cloud platform. “In further workshops, the PTA consultants convinced us that it was not advisable to transfer the databases available in Lotus Notes 1:1 to the new target architecture,” says Christian Krebs, describing another valuable finding of the migration project. Instead, based on the results of the event storming, the project team set about iteratively developing individual subprojects one by one and carefully evaluating the associated processes. This had the advantage that, in the course of the changeover, the project team was able to define precisely which product-oriented components were to be extracted from the huge data pool using the migration tool from Lotus Notes and integrated into the new, precisely tailored target architecture in Microsoft SharePoint. Unnecessary data ballast could be discarded with this method.

Default settings facilitate work and create transparency

Another advantage of the new IT landscape: In the future, SMC will use standard workspaces and a central search in Microsoft SharePoint that is easy to handle and manage. Whereas previously the search for specific brochures, product specifications or forms was often tedious and dependent on the experience of the respective specialist departments and their employees, these are now maintained in libraries in a standardized manner and can be reliably located via the central search function at the click of a mouse, as it were. “With such transparent data management, we are raising our customer relationship management to a new level. The expanded document management functions are also a big plus for our colleagues in sales when it comes to data integrity,” says Krebs enthusiastically about the successful migration to Microsoft Office 365.

Next step: docking third-party systems

Technical development in most branches of industry is proceeding at a rapid pace and hardly tolerates any pauses for breath. Technical components have to become more and more efficient and at the same time provide precise, reliable and long-lasting service. SMC has internalized this requirement. The wide product range as well as the almost inexhaustible product variants symbolize the spirit of SMC to always stand up for the optimal customer solution. The new IT infrastructure ideally supports this claim and contributes with lean and efficient processes to the fact that offers are created within shortest time and inquiries are answered individually and quickly. The migration project at SMC was a complete success and follow-up projects are already planned. Together with the PTA consultants, the company is already exploring the extent to which third-party systems, web applications and outsourced databases can be integrated into the new IT landscape – for example, from the European branches or production sites. And the project team is certain that it will build bridges to additional information sources in order to link them with the convenient search function and make them accessible. So the integration of valuable information pools into SMC’s central IT system is far from complete. If it can’t be done, it doesn’t exist at SMC. And so it may come as no surprise that the wheels never stop turning at SMC.

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“This inventory was a complete success and the ideas PTA submitted put our project on the right track.”

“The project team was fully on the ball and took a concentrated look at our process landscape. The analysis and insights we gained together in this way formed a solid foundation for the subsequent migration to our new platform.”


Christian Krebs, Expert Digital Business Development at SMC,
about event storming at SMC.

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