It all started in a shed in 1963. Today, Theo Förch GmbH & Co. KG supplies the automotive, construction, and metalworks trades and industrial and maintenance workshops with more than 100,000 individual workshop, installation and fastening products. Besides their headquarters in Neuenstadt am Kocher (Baden-Württemberg), the company has 35 locations spread out across Germany and 55 subsidiaries globally, run by 23 foreign companies. In order to boost collaboration within the company, FÖRCH centralised its IT services and, after consultation with Bechtle, decided to use a Microsoft 365 platform.
FÖRCH’s workshop, installation and fastening products make them an expert partner for the automotive and construction trades and industrial and maintenance workshops. They can boast an experienced external field service, an all-embracing product catalogue and extensive services and solutions—and as a direct sales company are always there for the customer. Their business abroad has grown to the same size as the one on their home turf, which makes it necessary for their 55 subsidiaries run by 23 foreign companies to be able to communicate with each other and the headquarters in Neuenstadt am Kocher, just as much as their 35 German locations.
When it was approaching the time to renew the licence for their previous communication architecture at the headquarters, FÖRCH decided that they did not only want to modernise their IT, but also improve collaboration throughout the entire group. Whether for video conferences or collaborative projects, FÖRCH required a standardised platform for better collaboration throughout the entire group, and felt the urge to drive digitalisation in order to create modern jobs globally, both in the office and in the field. Their goal was for all employees to access a shared platform intuitively and regardless of their end device. Regardless of the operating system used, digital collaboration just had to work.
Our German employees and those in our 23 foreign subsidiaries communicate on a daily basis. For this purpose, we need a solution for collaboration that suits all users. Bechtle consulted us on this and invited our colleagues from abroad to come and attend workshops and convince them of this technology. We’re very grateful to have made the leap to the Microsoft 365 platform. Microsoft Teams and many other features have made our job a lot easier.
Steffen Federer, Division Manager IT Operations / IT Development, Theo Förch GmbH & Co. KG
Finding the right solution to this problem was not only a technical challenge. FÖRCH required a centralised platform for a decentralised structure. For this purpose, Bechtle held several workshops at FÖRCH, during which they introduced different platforms, ultimately leading to the conclusion that Microsoft 365 was the most suited for the challenges in communication that lay ahead for them.
The next step was to sort out the licensing situation. For this purpose, FÖRCH and Bechtle worked out the user roles for the approx. 3,370 employees at home and abroad and allocated the right licences to suit their needs. FÖRCH’s employees in the external field service and logistics now use first line worker licences, some of them with iPad devices. Those in the office will deploy Microsoft 365 E3 licences both at home and abroad.
The migration of workloads from the previously used environment into the Microsoft environment was planned by a specialist team at Bechtle over the course of a half a year and tested meticulously at pilot locations. The migration plan they came up with together was taken on by FÖRCH, so that their central IT could use the guide and migration tools provided to migrate the users themselves.
The new, centralised Microsoft 365 platform allows FÖRCH to work globally, dynamically and intuitively. The Microsoft 365 platform is controlled by local administrators using a permission and role-based system and provides faster communication, e.g. via Microsoft Teams, making it possible to organise projects across countries and locations in the blink of an eye. Updates to the latest software version guarantee that FÖRCH always has access to the newest functions.
Outlook/OWA, Teams, SharePoint, Stream, Power Automate, PowerApps and Planner make interaction easier—whether internally or with external partners such as agencies and customers. FÖRCH now uses the Microsoft Platform to organise different workflows and company processes. The company’s IT has used PowerApps to develop different scenarios, e.g. for inventories, to save time and money—just like the licensing model itself.