"Today we have standardized processes in the IT service that enable us to significantly improve monitoring, resource management and quality assurance in service ..." - Andree Schönfeld, ITSM Administrator ...


Bünting Group raises Group-wide business services with EcholoN to the next level of quality

Semi-automated processes and 360° view of processes

High service quality and trouble-free business operations are of great importance to the Bünting Group. At Bünting, a team of 95 specialists from the IT service team ensure that the operational readiness of IT infrastructures is ensured. They are competent contact persons for all technical matters at the approximately 14,000 employees and 210 branch companies.


In order to improve the transparency and flexibility of IT service processes, in 2013 Bünting introduced EcholoN, a new, central service platform that is able to flexibly grow with its own requirements. Bünting thus laid the foundation for partially automating manual service processes, making knowledge usable throughout the company, relieving its own resources and taking IT service to a new level of quality.

The Bünting group of companies has been based in Leer (Ostfriesland) for over 200 years as a medium-sized trading company. To the group belong today u. a. Bünting Teehandelshaus and the distribution companies J. Bünting Coloniale, famila, Combi, Jibi and Markant Nordwest. Under the umbrella of the Bünting Group, E-Commerce, Wholesale and Service GmbH & Co. KG and various service companies are united. With 14,000 employees, around 800 trainees, it is one of the largest employers and an important economic factor in the region.


Workarounds in the IT service were the order of the day

The IT service is the single point of contact for technical malfunctions, the central point of contact for the entire group of companies. The old Helpdesk solution could only support the work with awkward Excel workarounds.

"Up to four incidents could have been handled during the time that our employees were already using a simple ticket entry system. The concomitant lack of acceptance among employees sometimes led to tickets no longer being recorded at peak times. As a result, the reporting did not adequately depict the actual ticket volume and could only be used to a limited extent for the planning and control of processes and as a proof of defect to manufacturers.

The lack of transparency, such as when an 'incident' becomes a 'problem', and the lack of traceability in ticket processing made the quality management level we were striving for hardly feasible, ”says Andree Schönfeld, ITSM administrator at Bünting, describing the situation at the time. At the end of 2012, the decision was finally made to replace the aging system with a new IT service management system.
The service process should thus be mapped flexibly and consistently, so that every employee has immediate access to all the necessary information and can provide information at any time - from the history to the technical configuration database.

Bünting administration building in Nortmoor

Many solutions have already arrived at the end of their expansion stage

Above all, the new solution had to meet these requirements: a high degree of flexibility and expandability in order to be able to implement new requirements and processes quickly and easily. A fast incidence capture should be guaranteed as well as a CMDB configuration database for technical parameters, which also serves as an information pool for asset accounting. This is intended to inform the parent company, for example, about the arrival and departure of inventory goods and goods movements in order to make the entire life cycle of an inventory item traceable and to simplify the handling of maintenance and repair processes.


“Although some solution providers that we identified in our discussions and visits to the fair were able to cover the existing requirements well, many solutions had already reached the limits of their expansion level. In the end, the expansion to a vital service platform, which allows us to continuously optimize our processes, was only possible with EcholoN from mIT-solutions GmbH", explains Bünting ITSM administrator Andree Schönfeld.

Many solutions have already arrived at the end of their expansion stage

EcholoN Data Workflow System as a central integration platform

After the contract for the introduction of EcholoN was signed at the end of 2012, the workshop and parameterization phase began. The EcholoN Data Workflow System (DWS) ensured smooth data transfer from the existing system.

"This tool has also proven to be a very useful and convenient tool beyond the migration process, which we still use today, for example, for the integration of master and mass data from the Active Directory into the EcholoN platform. Large deliveries such as PCs or printers no longer have to be entered manually, but can be imported quickly and easily using a CSV connector, ”says Andree Schönfeld. "The goods bookings and movements within the various branches and locations can also be tracked very transparently with the help of a DWS workflow in EcholoN.

If, for example, a device is to be transferred from one store to another, a delivery note is issued at the touch of a button and in the background a stored job in the EcholoN DWS finally takes over the respective cost center transfer for the reporting to fixed asset accounting. "The start in real operation finally took place in the first quarter of 2013 in a first stage of development with recording of incidents, a small knowledge database and the connection to asset accounting to track changes in inventory. Since then the system has been growing steadily and has been 2015 extended to include web clients and a selfhelp portal.

"With EcholoN, we can now see where problems are piling up and launch solutions to fix the cause at an early stage." Andree Schönfeld, ITSM Administrator


New insights and individual reports for more transparency in daily business

So in the course of further development a.o. standard templates for the most common faults have been set up, which significantly simplify system-based recording today. The knowledge base has also been steadily fed with new 'insights', instructions and 'troubleshooting' since its inception to provide support staff and users with a consolidated knowledge pool of relevant perturbation information.

The various processes, parameters and escalation levels in EcholoN were successively further split up in order to make the processes easier for IT service employees to evaluate. Individualized evaluations, which could easily be created with the help of the integrated Report Designer, can now be determined in an automated process. For example, via which input channels how many tickets were recorded, what is the utilization in which area, what percentage of the e-mails give rise to tickets, where are most tickets recorded, what is the development over time. "So today we can see directly where problems pile up and launch solutions to correct the causes very early on," adds Andree Schönfeld. "But we also benefit immensely from the Report Designer in other respects as well, because it enables us to determine new key figures that we can send to any group of people quickly and efficiently at the request of the service, management or department heads."

Each of the 14,000 Bünting employees can use the IT service in the event of technical problems. From the cashier to administrative staff to the warehouse clerk at the logistics locations.

Semi-automated workflow for hardware exchange and service orders

In the case of problems with technical devices in the market, which could not be remedied as part of a troubleshooting and were outside the warranty period, so far a very complicated return or repair order had to be created.

Together with the mIT specialists, Bünting has created a meaningful, semi-automated process in EcholoN, which integrates all systems and process participants in a holistic process: From an incident in EcholoN, a change, 'hardware replacement', is initiated. At the same time EcholoN decides on the basis of a predefined categorization of the defective part, whether the device is repaired or disposed of, and inserts this information into a corresponding QR label. A system-controlled order is then triggered in EcholoN via the commercial department of the hardware warehouse. After receiving the goods, the warehouse reports back that the hardware is ready for collection and provides the item with an inventory number for follow-up. EcholoN independently guides the involved employees through the process to finally carry out the goods movement to the place of use. In the background, the market receives the shipment information. After commissioning, the defective device is finally sent to the hardware warehouse with the enclosed return slip and the QR code included. The associated CMDB element receives a marker via the DWS that the status is automatically updated with every change or goods movement. In this way it is possible to trace at any time which devices currently have the status "exchange" or which old devices have not yet been returned to the warehouse.

“We not only met the requirements of our asset accounting via goods movements and exchange processes. We can now see at a glance which devices are still under warranty and where devices to be returned are in circulation, ”says Andree Schönfeld. "Today, the entire exchange and repair process is no longer carried out manually in encapsulated Excel tables, but transparently and consistently in a largely automated process. This is noticeable in many ways at the cost level, since the manual effort is reduced and we also benefit from more professional returns processing and improved warranty processing. "


The cost of commissioning external service providers was also reduced from previously ten minutes to less than a minute. Because thanks to the CMDB connection, the model name, serial number, supplier, commissioning date, responsible service provider, etc. are directly available to place the service order.

Rollout of Selfhelp portal to all 210 markets

The first 16 stores have been connected to the EcholoN Selfhelp Portal in a first stage of expansion. After the pilot phase, the rollout for all 210 branches followed, so that all employees in the stores had access to the knowledge database and the opportunity to enter tickets and track their status at any time. In addition, Bünting also uses the portal as a communication platform for announcements, for example if there are central or cross-branch disruptions, or as a control platform to assign the necessary access authorizations to individual users or user groups. In addition to the expansion of the self-help portal, the web clients were also optimized to make it easier for colleagues in the field to use data via EcholoN.


Image source: Bünting