Introduction / Summary
MAA Assurance, one of Malaysia’s leading insurance companies, had a workforce getting increasingly impatient waiting weeks for leave application approval. To quicken the process, the company decided to move their leave application system from a traditional printed form to developing a robust leave application software on Microsoft SharePoint 2010, to the collective sigh of relief from their 1000+ workforce. Having already shortened leave application turnaround by 75 percent with the Microsoft Office 2010 suite and SharePoint Server 2010, the company insists that it is just on the cusp of finding more collaborative miracles with the new software.
MAA Assurance is a public-listed insurance company with over 1000 employees, and handles both general and life insurance for over one million Malaysians. Its employees are spread between its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and over 44 branches between East and West Malaysia.
While most of their staff were already on Microsoft Office 2003, various functions within the company were still done through make-shift solutions. For instance, if any employee wanted to apply for leave, he/she would still have to fill up a traditional printed leave application form, due to the need for physical sign-offs.
MAA employees submitted 21134 leave applications in 2009. “These forms would be sent to the employee’s immediate superior and then to the division head. This process would take two to three days to reach HR if they come from our headquarters and three days or more if they need to be couriered in from one of our branches,” said Jimmy Yeoh, CEO of MAAGNET Systems, MAA’s internal IT resource company. “On top of this, our staff like to photocopy and keep copies of their applications for future reference - a waste of resources and time.”
Yeoh has estimated that total man-hour time to process these applications was about 4226 hours last year.
Aside from the leave application system, another make-shift solution was the way employees were currently sharing files, which was through public shared folders running on their Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 server. “We do not have a depository for common documents, which we can now manage well. Previously, we put it in the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 public folder, which wasn’t exactly the most secure,” says Yeoh. While adequate, employees found it difficult to handle version control, and appropriate access to files.
Having used Microsoft products for the better part of two decades, MAA were eager to try the new Microsoft Office 2010 suite of products, especially in collaboration with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Through its partner, ISA Innovation, it implemented Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 to 80 users from MAAGNET Systems, MAA’s internal IT company.
“MAAGNET is a profit organization, with 10 million ringgit (U.S.$3.2 million) in revenue. Our primary function is to support the entire group’s needs from helpdesk to network and development. Our staff are already highly trained in Microsoft products, so it was an obvious choice for the pilot programme,” - Yeoh.
To start off, ISA Innovation ensured that existing content from the company’s existing Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 public folders were fully migrated over to SharePoint Server 2010 document libraries on the new Intranet portal “Our priority was that these documents would be securely accessible anywhere, anytime by all users,” ,” said Lim Fun Jin, CEO of ISA Innovation. “We also migrated all collaborative Intranet portal functions and departmental sites,”. His team also worked together with MAAGNET to develop custom applications on top of SharePoint Server 2010 to ensure that the company would be well equipped to operate, extend and enhance the new Intranet Portal platform, and able to respond rapidly to business demands.
As with most Microsoft products, implementation was smoothly carried out in a brief three month timeframe. Since then, MAA has also created a form within SharePoint Server 2010 for leave application that allows for sign-off requests emailed to the appropriate signees, and automates the entire process of leave application.
“Most of our programmers are already doing work with Microsoft Visual Basic and Microsoft .NET, so we’re familiar with developing on the platform. It’s easy to find staff who are already trained in Microsoft products and the development platform,” says Yeoh. Using Microsoft SharePoint 2010 staff the applicant’s available leave is checked against the HR database automatically before leave approval is granted.
MAAGNET are also now utilizing SharePoint Server 2010 to share files, with full version and access control now granted through each user’s profile.
“Once the initial pilot is approved, the remainder of the office will also be migrated to Office 2010 and SharePoint server 2010 by Q32010,” says Yeoh.
- Leave applications 75 percent faster
- Reduces paper, human resource and transportation cost
- More secure and manageable file-sharing
- Further efficiencies to come