Headquartered in Hasselt, Belgium, Belisol is a leading constructor and distributor of wooden, aluminium and synthetic frames for doors and windows. The company operates a network of 60 sales outlets in Belgium, France and The Netherlands, with 110 direct employees and a further 350 people working in the franchised outlets.
Belisol both manufactures its own products and distributes third-party products, which account for around 70 percent of sales. The head office staff are responsible for managing the in-house manufacturing processes and for negotiating with external suppliers, whose products are then sold through the franchised sales outlets.
As Belisol's revenues grew from €10 million in 2000 to €75 million in 2006, the company inevitably became more geographically dispersed, making it difficult to coordinate sales and marketing activities. The headquarters relied mainly on telephone and fax communications, and struggled to maintain an accurate view of current sales performance, delivery schedules and projected future demand. Belisol needed a central platform for exchanging information and managing shared projects that would enable a cost-effective start without restricting future expansion.
Belisol approached 1st Solutions, a Belgian systems integrator, for advice on finding the best platform for its needs. Following a comparison of Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise, Belisol opted for the Novell solution, a decision based partly on 1st Solutions' recommendation and partly on pricing.
"Novell GroupWise was the right choice for Belisol as a centralised e-mail and collaboration platform," said Wim Van Den Bossche, CEO, Belisol. "It provides reliable e-mail, easy-to-use shared calendaring and full access for remote users via the Internet, helping us to improve communication between head office and our sales personnel in three countries."
1st Solutions designed and deployed the Novell GroupWise solution, implementing a single instance at the Hasselt head office location. Some 80 users have full Novell GroupWise client software, while remote offices and field sales personnel use IMAP functionality to access their e-mail from other clients. 1st Solutions also implemented Novell GroupWise Mobile Server to support access from smartphones. Belisol does not require its franchisees to use the solution, but 95 percent of them have already adopted it anyway, demonstrating its effectiveness.
Prior to the introduction of the Novell GroupWise solution, sales people in the franchised organisations used e-mail originating from multiple private domains. With an enterprise-wide e-mail solution, Belisol can now present a consistent corporate image to its customers and suppliers - an important benefit in helping the company match up to larger competitors.
"Novell GroupWise enables us to coordinate sales and marketing activities across three countries from a central point of control," said Van Den Bossche. "The fact that the solution can be maintained centrally and accessed reliably from anywhere keeps the cost very low, while the ability to share information more rapidly and reliably has significantly improved the productivity of our sales teams."
Field sales staff can now access marketing and pricing information, check e-mail and make calendar appointments on the move, enabling them to spend an estimated 20 percent more productive time with customers. As the business continues its rapid expansion, Novell GroupWise will scale seamlessly to meet the new demands.
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