SharePoint

AHG CASE STUDY Overview

Customer profile:

Automotive Holdings Group (AHG) is Australia’s largest automotive retailer with more than 140 dealership franchises across Australia and NZ. Its major operations are in Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria and include 12 of the top 13 car manufacturers in Australia. AHG also operates in Logistics since 1979, via its AMCAP, CovsParts and Rand Transport operations.

Business situation:

AHG was working with a simplistic and limited Intranet that could not meet the business requirements that were becoming increasingly sophisticated as the company expanded. Document management practices were not standardised and were left up to individuals. AHG needed a collaboration infrastructure to support interactivity and information between departments of the several companies through storage of shared company documents, news and events.

Solution:

AHG chose Connected Systems for the implementation of SharePoint as their new intranet facility, called ‘The Hub’, which allowed users of different locations and departments to share relevant content to selected recipients.

Benefits:

  • Modern, fast and easy to navigate Intranet
  • Enables to share documents and information instantly
  • Reaches all or selected recipients among users
  • Enables users to select favorite tabs individually
  • Fosters improved communications and interactions
  • Provides business units with ‘ownership’ of their own data.

Automotive Holdings Group is Australia’s largest automotive retailer with over 140 dealerships franchises across the country. AHG also operates logistics businesses throughout Australia through subsidiaries Rand Transport (transport and cold storage), AMCAP and CovsParts (motor parts and industrial supplies distribution), VSE, providing vehicle storage and engineering, Genuine Truck Bodies, which provides body building services to the truck industry, and KTM Sport motorcycles (motorcycle importation and distribution in Australia and New Zealand).

As the company expanded across the country and abroad, AHG felt the need to develop and implement a powerful, efficient and user friendly internal platform in order to increase and facilitate communication and collaboration for all AHG staff.

AHG trusted Connected Systems to deliver a fit for purpose SharePoint solution that could help AHG face its new and growing challenges.

“As AHG has matured on its journey from a private company in 2005 to a large publically listed Group, we became more conscious of the governance standards we had to adhere to and the need for more professionalism and accuracy in our document management practices. Connected Systems helped us to protect the continuity of our critical knowledge.”

- Eugene Kavanagh,

Chief Information Officer, AHG

Download the case study

The situation

The growth of AHG:

Since its first Perth based car dealership opening in 1952, AHG has developed its network of car dealerships across Australia and NZ.

AHG continued to grow into logistics and distribution while still acquiring new car dealerships in Australia and NZ.

AHG’s growth through acquisition brought even more complexity and challenges relating to dissemination of information to staff. AHG had to deal with an increasing number of stakeholders, in diversified positions within their respective companies, located in different cities, operating with different systems, and having stakeholders of their own.

AHG felt a growing need to centralise all this information, new procedures and company documents and updates, while being able to address the right content to the right people.

The rise of information technologies:

With the rise of Internet in the 90’s came the opportunity for AHG to build an Intranet, designed for collaborators to share internal, confidential information from different locations.

Nearly 20 years later, the company had expanded to an extent that this intranet platform was no longer sufficient to meet the necessary requirements for an efficient internal communication. “The platform could not fulfill our requirements anymore as it got more and more sophisticated. We used to communicate via email, so we were not in control of our important documents, and revealing those to our users was patchy. We often forgot to release important information such as safety guidelines, or forgot some important recipients in our messages – it wasn’t working. Some people used our intranet, some didn’t, so it was impossible for us to keep clean records of our activities” says Eugene.

“We were not in control of our important company documents – it wasn’t working.”

In 2009, Eugene Kavanagh, AHG’s Chief Information Officer, engaged Connected Systems on the back of a recommendation from a previous colleague. Since then, Connected Systems has been AHG’s sole SharePoint service provider. Both organisations have built a business relationship based on straightforwardness, respect of deadlines and budgets, and the common goal of reaching AHG’s success.

The Solution

“The goal was to create a professional, valuable tool that was flexible, easily used and attractive. We wanted a central place that people can look over to.”

The goal:

Connected Systems wanted to provide a smooth transition from the existing intranet into its new platform, called The Hub. We sought to make The Hub the primary and only access to important documents, news items and other corporate information, while also viewing it as a portal by which users can access essential applications and content, whether they are internally or externally hosted.

It was important both to AHG and Connected Systems to provide a solution that was able to fulfill heavy user requirements; in this regard, Connected Systems went through a thorough analysis of each department and engaged with the users in a business language they could understand in order to comprehend the problem, define the requirements and provide the most effective and personalized solution. Together with an internal project manager, Connected Systems designed, developed and implemented a SharePoint based Intranet called The Hub.

The Concept:

The Hub is a portal allowing users to access thousands of documents, websites and applications.

"Connected Systems developed a SharePoint based platform called The Hub, that enables our 5000+ staff to access, create and share content online, 24/7, remotely and instantly."

The homepage was designed for it to reveal quick links, important news and announcements, news regarding the industry, stock exchange rates, weather forecasts, and a bit of entertainment. These features have been custom developed for AHG, and can be modified and implemented to fit any industry or company.

The tabs provided access to the main features of The Hub including:

  • Company: users can access company news and updates, press releases, case studies and much more.
  • News and events: in this tab, AHG publishes news regarding the company and industry, and the events in which AHG is an actor or stakeholder.
  • HR: this tab comprises employee benefits, employee details, year objectives, job postings, payrolls, and basically everything needed for the Human Resources department to run efficiently and for users to get access to their personal files.
  • Marketing: this helps users across the company to access marketing material needed for campaigns or generic information. It may contain campaign tracking, brochures, designs, logos, etc.
  • Customer service: this tab enables users to track and store exchanges with their clients. Whether it is positive or negative feedback, specific requests or simply maintenance and follow up, users have a clear view on AHG’s past, current and planned activities with their accounts.
  • Resources: contains all the necessary forms, templates, procedures and policies needed for a functioning business unit.
  • My team: enables each user to gain access to the collaboration areas within AHG; these areas contain essential links, lists, tasks, applications, documents and contacts.

The platform enables users to share private or public content in order for the information relevant to a particular user to be displayed on their team only. Users do not get flooded with superfluous information for their activities, which enables them to keep clean records of their essential data only.

With the growth of AHG, and as the amount of dealership and other acquisitions increased, many departments struggled to cope with the sheer volume of paperwork generated, much of which was essential ‘corporate knowledge’. The department of Property Management in particular was highly overloaded with procedures and paperwork. Managing property leases and drawings had become seriously problematic. “It meant a massive increase in creating, maintaining and updating their documents,” says Eugene, “It greatly increased the depth of their requirements”.

The Hub gives them access to a tailor made app specifically designed for them by Connected Systems that enables property managers to store, track, share and update their information online, and also provides reminders for follow ups, procedures and deadlines. “They grabbed the concept and pushed it, SharePoint quickly became an absolute must-have.”

Benefits

Since The Hub was implemented in 2009, AHG’s information management system has improved considerably; AHG acknowledges The Hub brought more efficiency to the organisation’s overall business.

The Hub allows users to share and access company documents instantly, 24/7 and from any location. It enables AHG to control the information that is passed among users, and keep stakeholders updated. SharePoint also enables users to manage their own accounts, emails, documents and calendars; it assists users following up their day to day business activities.

“We needed a corporate document management set up, especially for our ‘paper-heavy’ users such as our company secretary and the property managers who deal with massive amounts of documents, policies and procedures. It really facilitates the process that was awkward, tricky, and painful. Now, all you need to do is click, and off you go; The Hub hit the mark for us, it has become essential to our key business units.”

Aside from document management, The Hub also helped AHG communicate more efficiently with staff, through one-click tabs leading to essential information such as safety policies, employee benefits or heavily used templates and forms.

As all the needed information lies in a single website, most of the users departments are now saving themselves hours of analysing, explaining, sending and following up each single case. “For instance, The Hub considerably reduced the amount of calls to HR and IT helpdesks, they can now focus on their core tasks," says Eugene.

Since the implementation of The Hub, AHG has acquired multiple car dealerships and distribution businesses, such as Harris Refrigerated Transport. Thanks to the flexibility of the platform, AHG was able to transfer the tool to its new activities; it allowed the new comers to immediately acquire AHG’s culture. “As the business matures, The Hub is able to mature with it; we’re able to implement, modify and improve the platform following the company’s new requirements,” says Eugene.

Partnering with Connected Systems

“I would definitely recommend Connected Systems; they came with the ability to engage with our users in a business language they could understand, which led the users to open up and truly collaborate in shaping The Hub. Connected Systems’ team executed the project by the book, in respect of deadlines and budget.

Their passion for achievement and perfect execution led them to genuinely connect with our team in order to identify the needs and requirements they were facing, which played a crucial role in the successful development of The Hub.

I truly appreciate the personalised approach and relationship I have with Connected Systems, I don’t feel like I am another number among their database. Connected Systems has been our only partner for 3 years, and we have the confidence to pursue our journey with them.”

- Eugene Kavanagh

Chief Information Officer, AHG