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Fujitsu  uses the Now Platform
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Fujitsu builds a standardized global workflow

~120K

Employees use the global infrastructure

30%

Reduction in approval procedure lead times

UX

Improvements enhance employee approval


Renewing an aging settlement system
The approval systems used by Fujitsu until now were built over 20 years ago, and due to their notable aging, expansion has proven difficult. Furthermore, Fujitsu’s Group companies have all been operating approval workflows using their own custom-made methods, creating a bottleneck for efforts to realize agile management.

By using ServiceNow, Fujitsu was able to solve this problem by building a workflow that is standardized at the global level. The company expects to see significant decreases in lead time associated with approval operations.

Launched in October 2021, Fujitsu Uvance supports the Fujitsu Group’s (Fujitsu) mission to “make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation.”

The Fujitsu Uvance brand is comprised of seven fields: the cross-industry fields of Sustainable Manufacturing, Consumer Experience, Healthy Living, and Trusted Society meant to solve societal issues, and the technological fields that support them, Digital Shifts, Business Applications, and Hybrid IT. Among these fields, Digital Shifts practices agile management and employee work-life shifts that make full use of Fujitsu’s own data and technology. To realize a sustainable society, Fujitsu strives to transcend industry and national boundaries, and support corporate reforms and the work styles and lives of individuals.

In an effort to enhance the employee experience, Fujtsu sought to automate its document approval process. Since the approval system in use was built in the late 1990s, it was aging and growing more obsolete, making it difficult to expand its capabilities.

Kanna Kimura, Manager of Fujitsu’s Enterprise Service Management Department of the Digital System Platform Division, describes the situation this way: “The current approval system basically just takes a paper version of a circular, digitizes it, and sends it around, so we haven’t really been able to address the demands of globalization or mobilization.”

Furthermore, since over two decades have passed since the system was originally built, Fujitsu’s own business structures have changed radically since then, and the gap between the capabilities of the approval system and Fujitsu’s operations has become more apparent. Given these circumstances, the corporate side of Fujitsu announced a policy to review the approval rules themselves.

In 2020, there was a movement in Fujitsu seeking to unify the approval rules among brands, and it was decided that they would have their processes standardized under Fujitsu’s approval rules.

However, approval operations proved highly divergent among Fujitsu brands, with some simply moving their approval processes along by email, since they lacked an adequate system infrastructure. This would make it very challenging to achieve true unification of the approval rules.

Takeshi Horikawa, Senior Manager of Fujitsu’s Corporate Governance Legal Department of the Legal, Intellectual Property, and Internal Control Advancement Division, had this to say: “With this history in our background, we ultimately decided to renew the approval system from the infrastructure up. Rebuilding the system through a general-use workflow designed to support approvals at the Fujitsu Group as it engages in business globally, we will enhance work efficiency and UX, and ensure appropriate governance. We also strove to realize a high degree of scalability that can withstand ongoing data-based process reforms.”

Developing the six “To-Be” axes of the new approval system with a design-oriented mentality
Fujitsu has approximately 400 Group companies deployed across 180 countries throughout the world, and building a new approval system for use by the approximately 120,000 employees assigned to them would not be easy.

Thus, Fujitsu has been employing a design-oriented approach as part of a phase where everyone envisions the new approval system “To-Be” (the ideal state). Mr. Horikawa explains, “We conducted interviews with a wide range of users across various ranks, from employees responsible for drafting various matters to members of the officer class, and, in addition to examining and comprehending the raw opinions we acquired, we also fostered an understanding among project members for the goal we were trying to achieve.”

This is how Fujitsu developed the “To-Be” concept, which is comprised of the following six axes:

1. Enhance approval speed: The most important axis for realizing agile management

2. Enhance UX: Resolve user dissatisfaction with the current system, such as “the many deficiencies in application details cause them to be returned,” and “I don't know forwarding destinations”

3. Optimize governance: Ensure consistency and continuity of decisions by making it possible to search and reference past procedures

4. Use data: Visualize and improve bottlenecks by analyzing data on approvals

5. Globalize: Make it possible for Group companies worldwide to use the same system

6. Coordinate systems: Maintain the same coordination with peripheral work systems as practiced in the past

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As an operations department, we had strong expectations for ServiceNow, that they would be able to provide us a platform that could build workflows quickly, and also flexibly accommodate future modifications and expansions.

Mr. Takeshi Horikawa

Senior Manager, Corporate Governance Legal Department, Legal, Intellectual Property, and Internal Control Advancement Division

 

Operate any and all workflows on the Now Platform
To build a new approval system that satisfies the six axes, Fujitsu deployed the Now Platform.

Previously, Fujitsu had been operating systems that were custom-made for each region, Group company, or even department in some cases, but will now promote the “One Fujitsu Program” that aggregates all work into a single system. The Now Platform was selected so that all workflow systems will operate using Now Platform shared instances.

“The new approval system will be our first act under this policy. By integrating various workflows into shared instances, we can promote data coordination. We also felt that the platform came with the strong added benefit of allowing us to easily incorporate the global knowledge and best practices built up by ServiceNow into our workflows,” says Ms. Kimura.

The Now Platform was also the optimal platform for allowing Fujitsu to “stop focusing on Japan” when it comes to approval operations.

Mr. Horikawa explains, “If we are going to standardize approval rules and processes throughout the Fujitsu Group, we will need to make sure they fit global standards. We want to select a platform that allows us to realize and build a workflow that can take us in this direction quickly, and can flexibly adapt to future modifications and expansions. We had a number of different options available, but we ultimately told the Digital System Platform Division that we wanted to use the Now Platform.”

Reducing approval operation lead times by over 30% and promoting further process reforms
Efforts to build an approval system based on the Now Platform started in August 2021, with the help of a ServiceNow consultant. In January 2022, the system that would become step one of this project, was released.

According to Ms. Kimura, “The system targets Group companies that had run their approval workflows based on email, and it provides services to 61 domestic and 44 overseas companies, for a total of 105. The system is accessed an average of 128 times a day by approximately 8.7 users.”

Step two, which targets other Group companies and the Fujitsu headquarters itself, began operations in late May 2022.

“After step two gets going, all workflows, from preliminary consultations to deliberations and approvals, which were segregated under the current system, will be seamlessly coordinated. We expect to reduce the lead time required for approval procedures by at least 30%,” says Ms. Kimura. Mr. Horikawa also explained that “the UI is so simple and refined anyone will be able to use it after spending some time with it,” and he expects the new approval system to have a major impact on all operations at Fujitsu and its Group companies.

Of course, the release of step two will not mean the end of efforts to renew the approval system. “All data regarding approval operations for the Group as a whole will be centrally aggregated. So we must first reform processes based on data analysis. We will run a continuous cycle on the Now Platform for analyzing problems identified as we operate the approval workflow, and reflect process improvements in new workflows. This will allow us to realize a more agile form of management,” explains Mr. Horikawa, thus pointing out that Fujitsu will continue to address challenges. 

 

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