QMT Features: November 2013
Quality is kids’ play
Children's clothing manufacturer Reima taps an enterprise content management system to manage design documentation and streamline factory audit processes.


Reima is Northern Europe's leading manufacturer of children’s clothes. In addition to the Reima brand, the company also develops clothes under the brand names Tutta, Lassie and Progress, all of which are guided by the principal that kids should be able to move and play freely, in all conditions and always safely and comfortably.

Reima is based in Finland, but maintains sales and logistic operations in Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, which includes the company's own offices and its local partners. Logistic and production operations located in the Far East are maintained by both Reima and its China-based partners.

Children's clothing production is more complex than that for adult clothing, and as one might expect, regulatory and compliance requirements associated with the manufacture of children's garments are more demanding. Quality is paramount because of the increased focus on child safety. Manufacturers of children's clothing are required to test many different elements related to safety, and quality-related documentation is a big part of the effort.

“In the past, managing documentation associated with our material testing, manufacturing instructions, and quality processes was inefficient,” said Hannu Herckman, IT manager at Reima. “Critical information was being managed with traditional network folders and employees had numerous file versions stored on their laptops. It was hard to find information, which made it more difficult for our product managers to effectively collaborate.”

The demands associated with developing and maintaining quality-related documentation and processes led Reima to the realization that the company needed a formal ECM solution. Another factor driving the company's need for such a system was that email was becoming a de facto system employees used for storing and managing information.

“Our staff was using email for everything, which increased the challenges associated with getting our design files, technical documents, invoices, and other vital information under control,” said Herckman.

Errors reduced  in  production process
Due to the chaos related to the fact that Reima's design content was stored in a number of different locations and systems, including network folders, personal laptops and email, more errors were making their way into the company’s production process. As a result, Reima needed a more effective system for managing and automating business processes and workflows to ensure its staff was consistently executing required processes as well as accessing the current and most accurate versions of all information and documents.

Reima deployed M-Files Enterprise Content Management, ECM,  in July 2010, and within a short time, design managers and product managers were able to more effectively manage and collaborate on design documentation. After the initial deployment, members of the company’s quality management team began using M-Files as well.

In addition to the design and quality management teams, Reima’s operational staff also utilizes M-Files to manage financial files and contracts, as well as logistics and purchasing documentation (i.e., shipping documents, bills of materials, etc.).

“The ability for us to control and restrict access privileges for some of our confidential financial information and other sensitive documentation was another feature of M-Files we found to be very helpful,” said Herckman.

Since implementing M-Files Reima has experienced significant gains productivity and efficiency because employees now spend less time searching for the right document. In addition to being able to find files quickly, the company’s staff can now be assured that they locate the right version of documents containing the most current and accurate information available.

The check-out and check-in feature within M-Files also facilitates collaboration by efficiently managing the challenges associated with creating and editing documents in a team environment, where it is not uncommon for different users to need to make changes to the same document simultaneously. Reima staff can now check out documents and make edits without risking another team member inadvertently overwriting their changes, or making additional edits using information that is in the process of being updated. Others on the team or in the company at large can also clearly determine, or even be explicitly notified, when changes have been made – with all content residing in one centralized master repository, instead of vital information being scattered across the network or on personal systems.

China factory audits
Reima has become a member of the international Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). This organization studies and evaluates factories’ operations to ensure that working hours, job security and wages are at appropriate levels and that no child labour or forced labour is used.

A BSCI-appointed neutral auditor interviews factory management and carries out random tests on the working conditions. Reima utilizes M-Files to manage the documentation associated with this effort. In fact, this is the primary reason they started using M-Files in China - to ensure compliance with BSCI standards and that associated guidance is being followed.

“It’s our responsibility to ensure that we comply fully with all laws and regulations that impact any of our operations, and M-Files has become an invaluable tool for helping our team in China conduct the necessary process as efficiently as possible,” stated Herckman.

M-Files also plays an important role in the sharing of documents between designers and pattern makers in Reima's offices in China and Finland, as well as by the company's quality teams and logistic teams. This has resulted in a cost-efficient and reliable way for Reima to speed up its workflow processes.

Users at Reima have been very happy with M-Files since deploying the system in the summer of 2010. M-Files has developed a strong reputation within the company, and many Reima employees are promoting the virtues of M-Files to their counterparts working on teams supporting Reima’s other brands.

While Reima has experienced numerous benefits from their use of M-Files, Herckman admits the company has only scratched the surface in terms of how he envisions the company can further leverage the ECM system.

“We have numerous types of documents and other information that can be managed with M-Files, and we're exploring how we can take advantage of the system get more of this unstructured content under control. In addition to managing and controlling a variety of content and related processes, we’re also investigating the possibility of using M-Files as our customer relationship management (CRM) system."l
www.m-files.com
  
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