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Lafarge Selects Alfresco to Optimize Document Sharing with its Subcontractors and Clients and Saves €200 000

From the Freedom Tower (New York) to the Flower Tower (Paris), Lafarge supplies the construction materials that build the world’s cities. The company was founded in France in 1833; today, it employs 63,000 staff members across 61 countries. Lafarge is a major player in the cement, aggregate and concrete industries.


The IT department wanted to modernize its document management system to:

  • Centralize documents stored across multiple solutions (file servers, Documentum, FormScape, Lotus Notes...)

  • Provide users with a tool that is intuitive, powerful and yields productivity gains

  • Eliminate external document storage and service costs

“We wanted to implement a solution that is easy to use by all, and malleable so that we could mold it as we saw fit,” says Jean-Philippe Palau, innovation director with Lafarge.


Several partners had recommended Alfresco, so the IT Department started a test project to store and archive customer account documents (invoices and delivery slips, which are required in case of dispute). A Web portal was developed to view several millions of documents now stored on Alfresco.

The IT Department, impressed by Alfresco’s ease of integration and development, launched a second project for the Logistics Department. Trucking companies must provide documents on a regular basis (e.g., driver’s license, registration, insurance and proof of road worthiness) to show that the 1,500 vehicles and their drivers comply with regulations. A Web portal— modeled on the client portal—is used to upload and access documents. Workflows generate alerts and automatic requests for new documents when the expiration date approaches.

A three-month POC, followed by a pilot, validated the solution. User feedback helped tailor the solution and create a tool that is user-friendly, intuitive and valued by all, including those who are normally ill at ease with IT.

User rights hide unnecessary information to avoid confusion. Because it is so simple to use, the new tool requires minimal training. A simple presentation of the platform to the teams was sufficient. A mini user guide was circulated, and points of contact were trained to answer users’ questions. 


The solution was deployed gradually. Today, 100 staff members in the Logistics Department and 500 trucking companies use Alfresco. By the end of the year, all subcontractors will use Alfresco to show that they comply with regulations and safety standards.


Lafarge sends a large number of paper documents to external storage and certification firms. By managing customer account documents internally, Alfresco saves Lafarge €200,000 per year. This is the first step in a larger project to scan, digitally sign and store documents on Alfresco. No date has been set for the larger project; however, “the financial gain will be huge,” says Jean-Philippe Palau.

The Logistics team can now concentrate on core responsibilities instead of administrative tasks while making sure that all trucking companies comply with the law. 

By implementing Alfresco unaided, the IT Department saved on costs. With a proprietary solution, it wouldn’t have been so easy. “One of the issues with proprietary solutions is that purchasing services is very expensive. If we compare that with an open source solution we can develop and implement ourselves, the cost of the proprietary solution rapidly becomes prohibitive. Besides, it is rare to have a list of requirements that covers everything from the beginning, so we really appreciated having an agile solution. By using web scripts, we can call all functions natively and enrich them with additional layers without ‘breaking’ Alfresco or having to rewrite it,” says Jean-Philippe Palau.

Today, the team is leveraging the success of the two existing projects to suggest to other departments that they start their own project. Ideally, Alfresco should be used for all document management needs within Lafarge. 


"We wanted to implement a solution that is easy to use by all, and malleable so that we could mold it as we saw fit.”

- Jean-Philippe Palau, Innovation Director, LaFarge