SIGNA Customer Story
With total real estate assets of more than EUR 6 billion and revenue of over EUR 3 billion from its retail interests, SIGNA is one of Europe’s leading companies in these business areas since it was founded 16 years ago. The Group comprises of two core businesses: SIGNA Real Estate and SIGNA Retail. SIGNA Real Estate owns and operates a broad long-term portfolio of properties in diverse locations.
Until 2008, SIGNA Real Estate used a file system to manage its documents. The challenges this legacy system caused forced them to investigate a new solution and they selected Microsoft SharePoint. “We simply couldn’t find documents anymore and needed a better way to manage documents,” says Franz Hillebrand, Managing Director of SIGNA Informationstechnologie GmbH.
However, SharePoint had its own shortcomings: its permissions structure was too complex and didn’t accommodate external collaboration when working with partners, and employees didn’t have confidence in the security rules when sharing documents inside SharePoint with various roles.
Another issue was the long file names generated as a result of users storing documents in nested folders. Character limitations meant that they could not be mapped in SharePoint, and these issues were not rectified in future versions of SharePoint. “At some point we said OK, what are we going to do? And it became clear that we needed a modern and easy to use solution for our users that also provided the security and extensibility that the business required.”
After evaluating Alfresco One, the SIGNA team determined that it was the best fit for SIGNA’s users due to the feature set and the open source nature of the product was a bonus as it integrated well with SharePoint. SIGNA also partnered with FAW, a Premier Alfresco Partner, to assist with the implementation.
The Alfresco solution also supports the company with its document versioning requirements, enabling long file names to be used in nested folder structures. Franz Hillebrand says that the solution has been well received by the two groups of users in the company: “On the one hand we have the Google types, who want to find everything quickly using the search function. On the other, we have users that prefer hierarchical folder structure, who want to click down to the 32nd folder level. Both types function well within the Alfresco solution and are happy with the experience.”
Around 160 SIGNA employees currently use Alfresco. The number of documents managed in the system is increasing constantly, since all of the data is being migrated over from SharePoint, but it is estimated to be 600,000 documents. These documents can now be provided to external partners in a secure and controlled manner, allowing them to access, review, download and upload documents system directly.
SIGNA was impressed by partner company FAW’s knowledge of the technology: “We have a partnership with Alfresco, but without FAW, a Premier Alfresco partner, we would not have the solution we have today and a complete partnership with whom we can discuss our business needs, visions and put a plan in place as to how we achieve those goals,” concludes Franz. “We need to have shared visions and ideas, and we want to embark on this journey together with our partners.”