How the Retirement of a Key Employee Became the Catalyst for Digitalization
What two things do Hamburg’s cultural flagship, the Elbphilharmonie, have in common with the Red Bull Academy in Salzburg – one of the most modern training grounds for young football stars? Both places strive for excellence, and Steinbacher insulation materials ensure the optimal climate in both buildings. The SME from Tyrol is a prime example of how a healthy blend of tradition and innovation can ensure lasting success.
Full-Service Provider of Insulation Materials
At Steinbacher, everything revolves around efficiency and innovation. Efficiency is paramount because the Austrian company, based in the tranquil village of Erpfendorf, is a complete provider of insulation materials and, by definition, an expert in resource conservation through intelligent technical solutions. Thanks to its innovative spirit, the company has become one of the top three insulation material producers in Austria in what is a very competitive growth market. Steinbacher currently employs almost 460 staff across three locations in Austria, Germany, and Poland. The group recently generated an annual turnover of 128 million euros.
Behind these figures stands a traditional family-run business, now managed by the second generation of the entrepreneurial couple Ute Steinbacher and Roland Hebbel. Their success, however, is no coincidence. On the one hand, they are the only provider in Austria to cover the entire range of insulation solutions – from building insulation in structural engineering to insulation systems for underfloor heating. On the other hand, Steinbacher doesn’t serve a straightforward market: their customers range from large DIY chains in Germany to highly specialized system providers. Lead times for the extensive product range can vary from four to six weeks, but there are also cases of urgent requests like “we need it on the construction site tomorrow.”
An essential factor in Steinbacher’s success as a recognized insulation brand has been its dedicated employees. One of them is IT Manager Manuel Gosch, who has been responsible for the family company’s information technology for the past ten years. Gosch began his career at Steinbacher 19 years ago and, as Head of IT, has significantly enhanced the digitalization of the end-to-end insulation provider: “The actual development began seven or eight years ago on a small scale with a new ERP system, barcode scanning, and so on.” Gosch switched the ERP system to Comarch, whose business software is particularly suited to SMEs.
We currently have around 50,000 digital documents in the archive – and that number is growing every day. This not only simplifies many processes; easy invoice in particular saves us an incredible amount of time in the area of invoice checking and enables us to better meet discount deadlines.
annual turnover in m.
A Major Leap Forward with Digital Document Management
Being the IT manager of a company as diverse as Steinbacher, with its numerous business areas spanning three locations, poses a particular challenge. The IT department must reconcile lots of individual needs. Gosch therefore formulated the strategic goal of adopting standards and selecting market-established software solutions that would allow the company to develop sustainably over the long term. The example of its document management system (DMS) illustrates that sometimes special circumstances are required to find a new software standard for a business process to drive digitalization forward.
When Manuel Gosch began to promote digitalization at Steinbacher, the topic of document management was already on the agenda. However, it needed an initial spark to get things moving, which happened when the Head of Research and Development retired. The company inherited an office with about 300 folders in which all the important technical documents, such as numerous technical standards for building materials, were neatly filed. For an outsider, however, it was virtually impossible to navigate through this mountain of files.
It was clear to the IT manager that Steinbacher needed a document management system. Gosch began researching providers and leveraged his professional and private networks to gather experience with different DMS providers. This yielded a list of the four to five big players, from which easy was ultimately chosen in November 2020. With more than 30 years of experience in the DMS market and over 5,500 satisfied customers worldwide, easy and the easy archive solution were highly recommended by other companies with whom Steinbacher discussed the topic of digitalization.
Once the decision in favor of easy was made, Gosch was able to start implementing the project at the beginning of 2021. The personnel file (easy hr) went live in May, followed by the digitalization of the incoming invoice workflow with easy invoice just under five months later. The software was initially rolled out in Austria and then gradually implemented at the two subsidiary companies. Looking back, Gosch reflects, “The introduction went remarkably well! Everything happened so quickly, and we had an extremely good contact person from easy who was always there when we needed support.”
Today, easy products are integrated into all relevant business processes at Steinbacher that require intelligent digital automation and archiving. Alongside easy hr and easy invoice, this also includes business and financial documents, which are now managed using easy contract. Step by step, Steinbacher was able to digitalize and archive approximately 50,000 corporate documents by autumn 2023. This process began with their document inventory in areas such as research and development, quality management, and quality assurance, extending to the incoming invoice workflow, employee documents, and personnel files in the HR department, right through to contract management.
Gosch uses the example of the incoming invoice workflow to explain why he regards this process as a major leap towards digitalization. Previously, all invoices received by post in the company were copied and stored in a corresponding tray, from which they had to be retrieved for manual approval by the responsible person. The invoices then circulated within the company before finally being processed in the accounting department. Today, however, all paper invoices at Steinbacher are scanned as soon as they are received and converted into a PDF document. They are then fed into the digital invoice workflow, accessible to all authorized personnel instantly.
Gosch also reaps the benefits of electronic archiving in his daily work as IT manager: “In the past, if I needed a document from one of my employees, I had to go to the HR department. Then my colleagues would pull out a folder, flip through 100 pages, and eventually find the document. Now I can look through all documents that have been shared with me from my computer and have everything I need within 30 seconds.” Thanks to easy hr, all documents are now digitalized and organized in a professional filing system, allowing the desired information to appear on the screen in seconds through a full-text search.
easy supported Gosch and his IT team with technical integration into the IT landscape. Over time, Steinbacher was able to continuously optimize and tailor the in-house archive system to its specific needs. A positive aspect is that the internal IT team can now make more adjustments to the archive independently. The need for support from the experts at easy has gradually decreased over time, and Steinbacher now largely works autonomously on the further development of the archive system. Even after approximately two and a half years of using easy archive, however, Gosch considers the process of DMS integration far from complete: “From my perspective, there is no end to such projects because IT systems should evolve; otherwise, you eventually come to a standstill and stop improving.”
the right data in the right hands
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