BMW Group France digitalizes its business processes with Adobe Acrobat Sign.
Make document processes more efficient
Improve employee experience and make remote working easier
Integrate a secure solution that complies with GDPR requirements
Signing time cut from a few weeks to an average of less than 48 hours
10,000 documents signed, all created and edited digitally, representing 200K pages a year
Documents met compliance rules and litigation risk is reduced
Enhanced company reputation
Adapting document flows to the needs of remote working
“This is a project to transform our working methods, which not only increases our efficiency but also reduces the administrative workload for teams and provides a modern employee experience,” explains Laurian Guillon, HR Manager, BMW France.
BMW Group France has around 1,000 employees across four business units: BMW France (the distribution subsidiary for the BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad brands in France), BMW Financial (the group’s captive financial arm), BMW Distribution, and Alphabet, the business vehicle leasing subsidiary. In 2020, BMW Group France opened its new headquarters in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, on a site in keeping with the group's ambitions. It includes an autonomous smart building, designed to limit energy losses, reduce its carbon footprint and meet the needs of new working habits and employee mobility. E-signature is part of a global project to digitalize working methods and change practices.
“Our work is currently organized on the flex office principle, mobility and remote working. Some business processes need an e-signature solution to work in this way. This also met the company’s requirement for a global environmentally friendly approach, advocating paperless processes,” explains François Houdeau, IT Delivery Manager, BMW Group France.
Streamlining and speeding up document flows and contract signatures
Until recently, signing processes were totally manual, with paper documents being sent by mail, and then the signed documents being returned by the various parties and scanned.
This slow, costly process was inefficient and unreliable, as many documents came back incomplete or were lost during the process. “Some of our contractual documents have 150 pages of schedules, which have to be initialed one by one. This is time-consuming and can lead to errors. Digitalization can be complex at Alphabet France, because it involves booklets which are non-detachable to guarantee their authenticity if there are disputes,” says Carole Payan-Kokkinos, Senior Legal Counsel, BMW Finance.
The company issued a local call for bids for the French subsidiaries and assessed the solutions based on seven main criteria:
- The possibility of rolling out the solution internationally
- Helping to ensure data security and GDPR compliance
- Helping to ensure the security of signatures, in accordance with the eIDAS regulation
- A simple, user-friendly solution, to facilitate employee buy-in
- The ability to interconnect with existing solutions
- The ability to sign from anywhere
- The cost
“Acrobat Sign was essential to give our employees the flexibility they need for remote working and to increase efficiency.”
IT Delivery Manager, BMW Group France
Simplifying and standardizing HR document management
“Acrobat Sign was a perfect match for our business requirements for security and ease of use. It was easy to create an interface with our DocuWare EDM system and thus provide an optimum employee experience,” explains François Houdeau. The process was carried out in two stages. First, BMW Group France is integrating Acrobat Sign as part of the renewal of its dealer agreements. Previously, two copies of each agreement, which is around 50 pages long, were printed and sent by mail, completed by the dealer and then returned, signed, to BMW Group France.
“There were quite specific business requirements: in particular the network needed to be able to personalize the agreement according to their workforce. This first step was therefore carried out in the form of proofs of concept (POC) to validate the needs,” explains François Houdeau.
BMW Group France compared the solution with the businesses' requirements and confirmed the expected benefits, including lower costs, signing times cut from several months to three days and reduced compliance risk, with the assurance of having an actual signature before the start of the service.
The second step involved creating an interface between Acrobat Sign and DocuWare via its API, and with an Electronic Archiving System (EAS), to integrate it into HR processes. The challenge for BMW Group France was standardizing documentation methodologies across the group’s four business units. The project teams had to identify all existing HR documents, create a document database and a classification system common to all business units, and rethink the user experience as business needs were identified.
“The four business units used different methodologies and tools. Our approach is one of continuous innovation, optimizing our documentation processes according to feedback from the businesses,” says Laurian Guillon.
Speeding up administrative tasks and focusing on our core business
The process is now rigorous, efficient and above all, completely transparent. The employee creates and edits the document, such as a declaration of employment, the end of a probationary period, a statement or a certificate. Most HR documents are included in the process. The recipient can then complete the document, sign it and return it to the sender, without leaving the DocuWare environment. “Our aim is to cut down on administrative tasks. With the integration of Acrobat Sign, the process is digitalized from end to end, right through to signing and archiving,” says Laurian Guillon. The employee experience is being brought up to date and made more efficient, and the group has implemented a dashboard providing direct access to its HR documentation in the EDM system. Employees can create and edit their own documents without bothering HR, which can then focus on its core role.
The use of Acrobat Sign has been rolled out to other business areas, including legal, purchasing and sales. There are now 10,000 documents that require e-signature each year, for around 150 active users.
“Acrobat Sign is really easy to use. There are substantial time savings for both the sender and the recipient of the document, with signing times cut from a month to an average of 24 or 48 hours. And that doesn't include the time saved on handling, keeping track of contracts or checking,” explains Fabrice Lambert, Senior Legal Counsel, BMW Group France. There is less risk in terms of compliance, since Acrobat Sign seals the whole document.
“This is crucial from a legal point of view, as we can be confident that all the pages have been initialed and that no schedules are missing. We know who has signed and when,” says Carole Payan-Kokkinos. The legal department can track the document, check the authenticity of the signature, and archive an electronic document, guaranteeing its integrity, and that it meets essential compliance requirements if there are disputes.
“The transparent integration of Acrobat Sign with DocuWare cuts down on the administrative tasks of HR and provides a better experience for employees and our talent. It has been an opportunity to standardize HR processes across all four business units in France.”
HR Manager, BMW France
Ensuring user autonomy
Managing the change was made easier by the simplicity of the solution, which is administered by the IT department. Employees who require an account authorizing them to use Acrobat Sign can access a help package, developed by IT, detailing best practices. It includes procedures for using the tool, the Adobe training webinar on the solution, an online knowledge base and, if needed, personalized support.
“We wanted an intuitive solution that would be easily accepted by employees. The changeover was very easy to manage. Employees, as well as external recipients who have to sign a document with us, all grasped how to work with it immediately. It is very flexible,” says Aurore Jean-Marie, IT support and communications manager.
Providing a modern experience and facilitating business opportunities
Beyond the obvious benefits, such as reducing signing times and ensuring compliance, Acrobat Sign enhances the group’s reputation, which is crucial for its business opportunities. Alphabet is a young business unit within BMW Group France and focuses on long-term leasing for businesses. “Implementing e-signature with Acrobat Sign was essential in respect of our competitors. It enables us to respond to our business finders very quickly and demonstrates the group's confidence in this fast-growing sector,” explains Marie Chauland, Broker Sales Manager, Alphabet.
Mainly used to send sales agreements, the e-signature solution simplifies management tracking of contracts and helps ensures secure authentication of the signatory. “Authentication is based on named email addresses and the solution is very easy to use. This makes it user-friendly, simplifying the relationship with brokers and increasing our business with them,” she says.
BMW Group France is pleased with the progress made. Increased productivity and time savings are clear at all levels of the process. In the future, the challenge will be to link the Acrobat Sign solution, rolled out by France, with the infrastructure of the BMW AG parent company in Munich. “Since our call for bids, the group has also decided to use Acrobat Sign at a European level. We have therefore been working closely with them on their strategic decisions. This will enable us to interface Acrobat Sign with our directory and further strengthen user authentication,” explains François Houdeau.