In discussing the release of version 6.0 of the PDF Converter for SharePoint with long-time client Steven Moens at Xylos, we also talked about our history of working together, a partnership that started when Xylos recommended the PDF Converter for SharePoint for their end-client, Umicore. (A brief video of this case study is available here).
Muhimbi: Tell us about Xylos, your client, Umicore, and what you do.
Steven: Xylos is an ICT service company. We have three main business units specializing in systems integration, systems management, and business solutions focused on increasing the productivity of end users. We’re headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium with offices in Brussels and Moscow. Our firm has around 180 employees. Our SharePoint consulting team is about 15-20 members.
Umicore, our client, is a global materials technology group. It focuses on application areas where its expertise in materials science, chemistry and metallurgy makes a real difference. Umicore has over 14,000 employees total and has business units all over the world. Because of this, they have SharePoint farms in Europe, Brazil, North America, Asia, and South Africa. Umicore uses both SharePoint 2007 and 2010 and the corresponding workflows from Nintex. I have worked with Umicore exclusively for 3 and a half years now on their SharePoint implementations. For many of those implementations we now use Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint.
At Xylos, I believe we have a pretty clear view of how to work on SharePoint projects. Our philosophy is that we first work with the out of the box functionality of SharePoint, train end users, and get them used to working with it. If there is a client requirement for which the out of the box features of SharePoint aren’t sufficient, we look for 3rd party tools that will meet the requirement. If there are no 3rd party tools that have functionality to meet the requirement, we’ll build one.
Muhimbi: How did Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint make its way into the project?
Steven: Xylos came in initially to train the Umicore team in SharePoint’s out of the box functionality. The second step of our methodology is how we came to use Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint: we used it for the first time with Umicore because we needed the functionality it provides for an application we were building. This initial application involved InfoPath and Nintex workflows where at the end, the document needed to be converted to PDF.
Out of several tools we evaluated, we recommended Muhimbi because of ease of installation, ease of user adoption, and low cost. In addition, our contact with Muhimbi staff made it an easy decision to make; the response was always quick and the information was very high quality.
Muhimbi: So this was your first time working with a Muhimbi tool?
Steven: Yes. We had such a great experience with the tool, every new SharePoint application at Umicore uses the PDF Converter for SharePoint and we’ve recommended and implemented Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint at other Xylos clients, such as Terminal Investment Limited and KBC Securities.
Muhimbi: When was this?
Steven: About two and a half years ago. We started the trial in November of 2009 and purchased in December 2009.
Muhimbi: We’ve updated and released several versions since over the past two and a half years. Do you keep up to date on the versions and utilize new features?
Steven: Yes, every version has something new and useful for us. We’re excited to update to version 6.0 as it enables conversion from InfoPath to Word and this is something we’d like to take advantage of. We have on occasion put in feature requests and Muhimbi seems to respond within the next release or so, which is great.
Muhimbi: We try to make sure the tool evolves with users’ desired functionality. It’s great to hear your use of the PDF Converter for SharePoint has evolved with the tool as well. What is it about Umicore that makes Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint important for you?
Steven:At natural mile-markers managers need to approve InfoPath forms before the team can continue work on a project, but Umicore is a global business with management all over the world. Before Muhimbi’s solution was installed, the approving managers needed to be physically in the office or return to the office to approve documents.
With Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint's capability to convert InfoPath forms into secure PDFs, we can send secure PDFs via email (a Nintex capability) to manager’s mobile devices for approval. This is incredibly convenient and increases efficiency and productivity by a magnitude. A lot of approvals now happen in real time when previously this would have been impossible.
Since the initial group within Umicore started using the PDF Converter for SharePoint over 2 years ago, many others began using it as well because it has been so useful. Now, over 70% of SharePoint applications within Umicore use the PDF Converter for SharePoint.
Muhimbi: Do you have advice for others considering Muhimbi?
Steven: If you have a question, don’t feel it is hopeless to ask support as it is with many ISV’s. You will receive a good response quickly from Muhimbi.
Muhimbi: Would you recommend PDF Converter for SharePoint to other SharePoint users?
Steven: Absolutely, as I’ve previously mentioned, we’ve already recommended and installed Muhimbi’s PDF Converter for SharePoint for several Xylos clients and more and more groups within Umicore have started using the tool since we started using it.