I chose the Elcom platform because of the cost and customisation offered. It had a lot of off-the-shelf features I could use, a developer API and good technical support, at an affordable cost. Configuring the Elcom system was straightforward because the installation package sets up everything for you. 80% of our stage 1 intranet used CMS functions the platform provided. We then started to build up the development environment and added custom features. We also built a coding resource control and the web API, making it integration friendly with other third-party systems including our ERP system.
Every department has their own IT budget, and vendors and consultants compete for their budget. If my colleagues wanted to automate small manual functions, I lobbied them to let my team build it on the Elcom platform instead. They were impressed we could put up solutions so fast and at no cost to them. We then progressed to automating bigger end-to-end processes. Now the company has decided that all system requests should firstly go through my team for a solution before looking for external systems and vendors. We currently have a list of 50 customisation projects planned, big and small.
We built a centralised platform for hosting IT solutions across the entire business, named Hino Central. It includes an intranet for staff, extranet for dealers, and portals for our other business partners such as fleet customers and body builders. We manage access to each solution using Elcom’s security permissions. Each department has 1 or 2 publishers who can make updates or add content and publish it themselves. This saves a lot of time for our IT department.
We finally have a platform with off-the-shelf tools and features we can build on. As long as you know programming, you can customise the Elcom platform to whatever you need. We extensively use Elcom's existing permission management framework, workflows and look up tables. We do not need to reinvent those interfaces, which makes the development of custom functionality, like the ability to provide online tracking for vehicle recalls, so much easier. Then we just need to create a new page and insert the customised control onto the page, publish and that’s it.
We use Elcom as our web application platform to host all our operation’s process automations. We are constantly adding new applications to help departments automate manual processes, like the Extended Warranty System. Recently we added an Accounts Payable automation to manage the entire end-to-end supplier invoice approval process. We have an Optical Character Recognition solution to extract information from supplier invoices and insert it into the database table that is used to populate invoice records in Elcom. Then we use the Elcom workflow function to request approval from different staff members based on the amount and department being invoiced. Once approved it goes to our ERP system for payment. We also use Elcom folders to manage the invoice attachments and have set up security group permissions to the folder to manage access.
The Elcom platform lets us integrate multiple systems for the first time including our ERP system, the IBM AS/400 platform. This is one of the most difficult systems to integrate with because the drivers it uses are so different to Microsoft-based products, and the support resources are so limited.