The Burkhalter Group, a leading Swiss provider of electrical engineering on construction sites, is continuously growing and setting up new, autonomous Group companies. Efficient IT paves the way for this growth and for profitability.
IT is a key success factor for the Burkhalter Group’s federated business model. The over 40 independent companies use centralised services but also enjoy significant local freedom. This can pose challenges, which the Swiss electrical engineering number one overcomes thanks to Swisscom.
Everybody has seen one: a yellow Burkhalter Group company car. Wherever they are, the nearest construction site will not be far. The family-run company was founded in Zurich in 1959 and over the past 50 years has grown into a Group, with around 2,900 employees active across Switzerland. In all those years one thing that has not changed is the importance of local proximity: with 40 operating companies at 87 locations, the Burkhalter Group is present in all four regions of Switzerland. For IT, this means: providing standardised, centralised IT for the efficient execution of projects while at the same time supporting local needs.
Burkhalter's IT strategy is based on a bottom-up philosophy, and so the company manages as much as possible in-house. “Our approach is: pooling and sharing,” says Zeno Böhm. With this in mind, Burkhalter Management AG buys hardware, such as servers, PCs and monitors centrally from Swisscom. Even the key element, the ERP Xpert.Line from Soreco, is made available to the Group companies centrally. Software with multiclient capability, the usual Microsoft products and in-house developed, ERP-enabled branch software are also provided centrally. The ten employees in the central IT department also take on the role of support and manage their own data centre and network. “For highly complex IT issues, we rely on outside expertise,” the 38-year-old CFO explains. For example, Swisscom provided specialists for the virtualisation and storage area network (SAN) and delivered the solution architecture. “Today, we have a predominantly virtualised data centre and con-sistently opt for inhouse Internet technology,” says Böhm.
The virtualisation approach and the partnership with Swisscom have paid off. “Our partnership with Swisscom goes beyond IT,” says Zeno Böhm. “The experts at Swisscom act professionally, are customer-oriented and have indepth know-how.” But while the virtual environment has not made IT any cheaper, flexibility and availability have improved and redundancy is guaranteed. In this manner, new companies are more easily incorporated thanks to Internet technology. This is a critical point in light of the Burkhalter Group expansion strategy. And the annual balance sheet for 2011 proves it: earnings per share, the key figure for the Burkhalter Group, went up again.
The trend towards virtualisation is continuing. It is supplemented with software-as-a-service for all devices and an improved application integration through consistent use of Internet technology. With these elements, Burkhalter hopes for lean, faster business processes and a heightened service quality. “We opt for solutionoriented partners such as Swisscom who understand our corporate structure and strategy,” says Zeno Böhm. This is the only way to create IT that is fit for the future and for the central IT department to provide the Group companies with a top service