Tyson Foods Cuts Maintenance Costs With Image Management Solution

With more than 75 years in business and 115,000 employees, Tyson Foods is among the world’s largest producers of chicken, beef and pork, and the second-largest food-production company in the Fortune 500. From its headquarters in Springdale, Ark., and more than 300 facilities worldwide, Tyson Foods serves customers throughout the United States and in 100-plus other countries.

To help develop and market hundreds of products and process millions of transactions each year, Tyson Foods’ information workers interact with an ever-expanding repository of data and documents—many of which originated on paper and have been converted to a digital format. In 2010 alone, employees accessed and processed information from more than 75,000 document images each week to execute time-critical transactions and business processes related to accounts payable, accounts receivable and general ledger. As a result, Tyson Foods considers its enterprise document management solution to be a fundamental company asset.

From 2006 until very recently, the company’s document management solution was based on the EMC2 Documentum Platform. Yet the value that Tyson Foods derived from its solution diminished over the years. The company needed to enhance and extend its Documentum solution to keep up with changing business needs. However, Tyson Foods found that making productivity enhancements to its image management system required complex coding while delivering the solution to new groups of users was also challenging.

“We had planned to deploy incrementally,” Rebecca Wilson, Project Leader, Productivity Management Group at Tyson Foods, says. “But after five years, we had been able to deliver the Documentum-based solution to fewer than one in three of the individuals who could have enjoyed productivity gains from it. This was hardly the best application of our significant investment.”

To worsen matters, maintenance of its image management system was costing the company dearly. When EMC2 phased out support of the Documentum version that Tyson Foods had adopted, the company used this opportunity to try something different.

Solution

Wilson and her colleagues chose a solution that was both different and familiar: Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. The company had used earlier versions of Microsoft SharePoint technologies since the mid-1990s, and had been using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for large-scale collaboration projects since 2008.

“Based on that experience, we considered SharePoint an industrial-strength technology, and an excellent candidate for enterprise-scale document management,” said Mark Barron, Lead Programmer Analyst at Tyson Foods.

To deploy the SharePoint Server-based image management solution, Wilson assembled a team equivalent to six-and-a-half full-time employees, along with two specialists from Hitachi Consulting who led the project’s five-week pilot in 2009. When the pilot ended, internal team members spent another 15 weeks preparing the solution for production release.

Deployment Success

Today, Tyson Foods is running SharePoint Server 2010 on a cluster of 16 Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard–based servers, five of which are hosting an image database based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and dedicated to the SharePoint Server-based image management solution. Some 3,000 employees from four business units are using the solution for accounts payable, employee reimbursements, payment backup, general ledger, garnishments and export documentation. In one of those business units, Tyson Foods Corporate, employees are also using the solution for a product-line-specific accounts payable process and garnishments.

Deployment of the SharePoint Server-based image management solution to these users is just the first step in bringing its benefits to Tyson Foods’ information workers. By mid-2011, she anticipates that an additional 50 to 100 sales-support employees will make regular use of the solution, a significant expansion beyond the original Documentum user base. 

Benefits

Tyson Foods’ SharePoint Server 2010 solution is enabling the company to rapidly enhance and extend image management capabilities to a broad range of employees, dramatically reduce new-development time and maintenance costs and anticipate a return on investment in just two years.

Development Time Cut Significantly

Since configuration is now easier, Tyson Foods can deploy the SharePoint based image management solution to different user groups far more readily than it could the Documentum-based solution.

“We can deploy imaging solutions to each user group with minimum custom code. This has reduced development time for new image management projects from three or four calendar months down to just one,” Charles Norman, Lead Programmer Analyst at Tyson Foods, says.

Economies of Scale

Whether enhancing its new solution for current users or extending to a different user group, Tyson Foods can easily and effectively scale to manage its rising volume of document images.

“We no longer need to seek out specialists because we have a wide base of professionals throughout the company who know SharePoint as a collaboration tool,” Norman says. “These professionals can build projects on the SharePoint-based image management solution with little to no involvement from us and they can do it well.”

Rapid Return on Investment

Having multiple SharePoint Server experts and a large, experienced user base provides significant economies-of-scale.

“By replacing a Documentum environment with one based on SharePoint, we are reducing those maintenance costs by two-thirds,” Wilson says. “Combining this with what we’ll save by retiring the third-party and self-developed solutions used in some business units, we expect to see a return on our SharePoint based image management investment in just two years.”

For more information about Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, visit www.microsoft.com/sharepoint. For more information about Tyson Foods products and services, call (800) 643-3410 or visit www.tyson.com.

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