One of the biggest installations of its kind in South Africa
Adapt IT recently completed a Microsoft SharePoint installation at SAPREF which is believed to be one of the largest of its kind in South Africa.
“In terms of the scope of the project and the sheer volume of documents that needed to be migrated into the new system it is one of the largest Microsoft SharePoint installations in the country to date,” says Adapt IT project leader Warren Chavda.
 
SAPREF is the largest crude oil refinery in Southern Africa with 35% of the country's refining capacity. It is located in Durban and processes 24 000 tons of crude oil per day to make 10 main petroleum products in 46 grades. The company manages over 90 000 engineering drawings and more than 4000 important documents. “These thousands of documents and drawings were previously managed in two very basic, predominantly manual, legacy systems which had limited search capabilities,"  says SAPREF IT project leader Nombasa Hewana. “SAPREF was looking for a solution that would provide a central document and drawings management environment, and an automated system with electronic prompts for activities,” she explains.
 
Microsoft’s SharePoint portal server was chosen as the solution that met most of SAPREF’s requirements, and together with two additional third party products was the best solution for the job. Microsoft SharePoint is a web portal framework, accessible to users through a normal web interface, making access to information much easier. A data management component was also installed for enhanced data management capability, as well as a workflow component which allows task driven routing of documents. The portal’s enterprise search functionality enables enhanced quick search functions and enables engineers for the first time to search for a document or drawing by the contents of the document and not just by meta-data, as was the case in the past.
 
Two third party products were also installed and integrated into SharePoint to provide additional functionality for the client. These products included Organice which plugs into SharePoint for the drawing management of CAD files. Brava was also installed to enable users not currently using AutoCAD to view drawings.
 
The project began in the first half of 2010, and SharePoint went live at SAPREF in February this year.
“The sheer volume of the documents and drawings to be migrated to the new system, as well as the integration of the third party products and the customisation of SharePoint did pose some challenges to the implementation team, but overall the installation has been a success,” explains Chavda.
 
“We had a one team philosophy during the implementation, combining representatives from SAPREF’s IT division and business units with the Adapt IT staff to form one strong team that worked well together. We are still providing ongoing support to SAPREF staff members as they familiarise themselves with the new system, and are committed to helping them experience the benefits and value of the solution for themselves,” explains Chavda.
 
“Overall, the new system provides SAPREF with an automated, centralised data management repository which makes it easier to find information and to create and modify documents. The new system is also more reliable than the previous legacy system and is fully integrated into the company’s AutoCAD and office applications, allowing staff to access it through an ordinary web browser that they are familiar with using,” says Chavda.
 
“At the moment we are monitoring the system’s performance and the user feedback and addressing any issues as they arise. On the whole, most people are very happy with the implementation, and we look forward to enjoying all the business benefits of the system, including enhanced search capabilities, increased automation and using one integrated system for all our document management needs,” Hewana concludes.