Accelerating information sharing and use to realize three working styles, with further global expansion in sight

- Updating and unifying the internal communication platform - Case study: Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd.

Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, "Yanmar") is one of Japan's major industrial machinery manufacturers whose products cover a wide range from agricultural machinery, construction equipment to ship engines and energy system. With the company's 100th anniversary in March 2012, the company created an image of new working styles in collaboration with Fujitsu, which has the know-how for planning and generating concepts for work style innovation.

More specifically, Yanmar initiated a work style innovation project to realize the following working styles: the "Work anywhere style," which enables workers to work anywhere without being confined to a single location; the "Co-working style," in which employees collaborate globally to pool expertise; and the "Knowledge work style," in which internal and external information as well as knowledge are combined for effective use. As Yanmar expanded to more overseas locations, it reviewed its mostly domestic, internal Lotus Notes communication platform and reached the conclusion that it needed to prioritize the introduction of a unified, global platform. After several evaluations, Yanmar decided to adopt a cloud solution because of the ability to speedily expand such solutions to overseas locations and the convenience of maintenance; to this end, Yanmar selected Microsoft Office 365, which has high reliability in corporate use. Fujitsu, with its know-how on introducing globally unified internal communication platforms, supported Yanmar's successful introduction of Office 365 to all its domestic and overseas locations within about two years. By the information sharing and use that became possible with Office 365, the company has managed to eliminate various kinds of waste and costs, and it is currently rolling out three new working styles.
[February, 2017]

Overview of introduction

Business outline:
Industrial manufacturing
Products/services introduced:
Communication platform (Office 365, introduction consulting, construction, operational stability support service)
Scale of introduction:
All domestic and overseas locations: approx. 14,000 employees
Project length:
24 months

Challenges and benefits of introduction

  1. 1Information sharing and use for work style innovation
    Highly convenient features improve work efficiency and create awareness about changes towards working styles that are not confined to specific locations, making the three working styles possible
  2. 2Construction of a global communication platform
    Introduction of cloud-based Office 365 service guarantees speedy expansion worldwide and convenient maintenance
  3. 3Smooth transfer to the new communication platform
    Collaboration with Fujitsu with its own introduction know-how led to a successful introduction to all domestic and overseas locations within about two years

Background to the introduction

Prioritize information sharing and use to improve work efficiency

Takao Yajima
Executive Officer,
Group Divisional Manager,
Business Systems Division,
Corporate Planning Unit,
Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd.

"We were considering use of ERP to standardize our core operations, but from a management point of view, we decided to prioritize global information sharing and unifying our communication platform," says Takao Yajima, Executive Officer and Group Divisional Manager of Yanmar's Business Systems Division, Corporate Planning Unit.
In 2014, when the company was planning the project, it had no unified communication platform within the corporate group and little horizontal communication among employees. Regarding file management, data was siloed within each department; to obtain cross-department information, employees had to carry out various procedures and make requests by email.
To resolve this lack of communication, Yanmar decided to act to improve use and sharing of information. The company identified three significant improvement targets.

First was to communicate management's intents to all employees more speedily to ensure thorough awareness. Even though previously the president's message had been regularly released to employees, it was difficult to share that information with all domestic and overseas employees simultaneously.
Second was to centralize and make effective use of dispersed know-how. "Even though know-how is an internal asset, ultimately individuals were keeping it to themselves, making it hard to locate. For example, one department may have conducted a survey in the past, but because they did not share the results with other departments, other departments did the same survey again, which is wasteful," reflects Mr. Yajima.
Third was to accelerate information sharing across departments to provide speedier services to clients. "Many times, if there is a problem with a product, cross-department action is required, but it took time to coordinate information. From the client's point of view, the different departments are all just Yanmar. We wanted to view things from the same viewpoint as our customers and coordinate information to demolish internal walls and provide better services to our clients" (Mr. Yajima).

Process of introduction

Yanmar chose Fujitsu because of Fujitsu's ample know-how and vast experience in introductions

Hidenori Matsumoto
Division Manager,
Development Department,
Business Systems Division,
Corporate Planning Unit,
Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd.

Faced with the need to update Yanmar's communication platform, Mr. Yajima felt it should go beyond being a mere IT introduction project.
To ensure all employees were aware of the project's importance, a goal needed to be set to give everyone a clear image. Thus, Mr. Yajima identified the "Work anywhere style," "Co-working style," and "Knowledge work style" as the project's concepts and appointed an executive officer of human resources to be the project's chief officer.

Meanwhile, he also evaluated the solutions to adopt. "Considering the available features and system operability when rolling it out globally, we decided to adopt Office 365 with support from Fujitsu," says Hidenori Matsumoto, Division Manager of the Development Department, Business Systems Division, Corporate Planning Unit, who is responsible for the platform's actual operation. "We chose Fujitsu because Fujitsu and its group were already using Microsoft's communication tools and we felt we could rely on their ample know-how" (Mr. Matsumoto). "We liked the fact that they shared frankly with us the difficulties they had faced when they introduced the system themselves, and also what we should avoid doing when introducing the system" (Mr. Yajima).

Fujitsu Group's support helped achieve a smooth transition for stable operation

Komei Owada
IT Infrastructure Department,

"When introducing the system in Japan, Fujitsu Group supported us from start to finish-from generating concepts through to training. In other words, Fujitsu supported us from the start of introduction to training, keeping operational stability in sight," says Komei Owada, Manager of the IT Infrastructure Department, giving Fujitsu high accolades. "For the meetings to explain the new system, we thoroughly examined the materials we would use and the time schedule to ensure such meetings went smoothly and were carried out with a consistent quality no matter where they were held. We prepared an approximately three-hour agenda and held meetings for the chief officers of each department. We left everything up to Fujitsu, from creating the summary of the video message by project leaders talking about work style innovation to preparing various materials. They did truly excellent work and we are grateful" (Mr. Owada).

Tetsuya Iida
Development Department,
Business Systems Division,
Corporate Planning Unit,
Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd.

"Before expanding globally, we explained the project's purpose and how we would progress in detail to our overseas companies because their working styles and IT environments differ from what we have in Japan. As for the project's implementation, we did a pilot introduction at our company in Singapore to accumulate know-how. We then built a model for expanding to other regions based on that know-how, so we could smoothly roll out the system to other locations," says Tetsuya Iida, Manager of the Development Department, Business Systems Division, Corporate Planning Unit.

Yanmar and Fujitsu Group worked as one to implement the carefully planned roll-out and training, resulting in a successful introduction that was completed in two years and stable operation.

Benefits of introduction and future prospects

2,000 tablets in Japan spring to life with the proper environment

The platform was successfully completed in 2016. "It is now easier to see employees' schedules and attendance, and it is easier for employees to communicate with each other" (Mr. Matsumoto). "Using online meetings and other means, we have cut down business trip costs. Also, because everyone shares their schedules with everyone else, some of the people who need to moderate other people's meeting schedules, such as secretaries, have been able to free up to four hours per week. There has been a change in awareness throughout the entire company towards working styles that are not confined to specific locations, and I feel that this has led to speedier management" (Mr. Yajima).
In addition to numbers that illustrate these results, Mr. Yajima also feels that the project has improved work efficiency in many other areas, resulting in faster operations.
To resolve the first issue, "to communicate management's intents to all employees more speedily to ensure thorough awareness," a new Japanese and English portal site was created. All employees can instantly share the information they need, resulting in faster operations.
To resolve the second issue, "to centralize and make effective use of dispersed know-how," information from Lotus Notes is now being transferred to SharePoint Online, which is gradually helping expand the level of information sharing and usage.
More than anything else, the project managers are happy that this new platform has begun to show great effects with respect to the third mission, "to accelerate information sharing across departments to provide speedier services to clients." Mr. Yajima explained: "My original idea was that, if the back office could provide sufficient information to sales, the salespeople who actually handle clients could work more smoothly. Based on this idea, we provided about 2,000 tablets to everyone in charge of agricultural sales in Japan at the end of 2015. Using SharePoint Online, we added new content to support their sales activities. We deliver information that clients will find useful to our sales sites, such as videos comparing our products with those of our competitors and real-time credit calculations. That way, our salespeople can make use of the information they need, which means we can provide more services and information to our clients. Also, by using tablets and sharing daily news, one can do things like get direct advice not just from a line manager but from the branch manager and even headquarters." Salespeople are no longer alone; they have all of Yanmar backing them up now. "The field and back office are definitely closer now, and communication is also better," says Matsumoto.

To become a company that makes society and clients happy

"The work style innovation for employees is of course important. But that is not our final goal. How much can Yanmar contribute to clients and society? Work style innovation is just one part of that cycle, and our original intent is to change our working styles so that we can offer better services to our clients. Office 365 is an important tool to this end. I feel we have reached a stage where we cannot do without Office 365 if we want to proceed with work style innovation" (Mr. Yajima).
"Through our service representatives and salespeople, who directly face clients, we provide products and services that encompass Yanmar Group's know-how, and strive to become a company that makes society and our clients happy. As a tool to do so, we hope to use Office 365 even more effectively. For instance, we can use information from Internet of Things data to strengthen the services we provide to clients via our communication platform. There are still plenty of things we must consider. In that sense, this is an endless battle," Yajima says concluding the interview.

[Photo: left and next] Taku Kuramoto and Kiyoaki Daidou, Fujitsu Limited

Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd.

Location :
1-32, Chayamachi, Kita-ku, Osaka, 530-8311, Japan
Representative :
Takehito Yamaoka,
Representative Director, Chairman, and President
Established :
March 1912
Capital :
6.3 billion yen
Employees :
17,974 (as of March 31, 2016; Yanmar HD Consolidated-base)
Business outline :
Enriching people's lives around the world on land, at sea, and especially in the city

Research & development, and manufacturing and sales of:
1. Agricultural machinery and equipment (tractors, combines, rice transplanters, tillers, and more)
2. Marine technology (small- to medium-sized marine diesel engines, pleasure boats, and more)
3. Large engines (generators and propulsion systems for ships and more)
4. Energy systems (micro-cogeneration systems, gas heat pumps, and more)
5. Construction equipment (mini excavators, portable generators, and light towers)
6. Industrial engines (compact diesel engines for industry)