Soap and cleaning products manufacturer PZ Cussons has brought in Quest Software to deliver a more user friendly intranet platform, aimed at delivering better data and cutting costs.

The 'Spark' system is being rolled out globally across the firm. Based on Microsoft SharePoint, it is being developed using Quest Software's Web Parts application development tool - to create what the company says is an "intuitive application" that features functionally-rich text, image and charts in the aim of engaging employees.

As part of the development, departmental heads have been able to contribute to the building of their sites, thereby allowing greater control of design.

No external SharePoint developers were required in the collaboration with Quest, Cussons said.

PZ Cussons Digital Technology Manager Mark Cadwaladr explained the advantages of the partnership: "We could not have achieved this level of functionality with any single alternative solution on the market; we would have needed to purchase several tools from different vendors, which would have made our approach unnecessarily complicated."

He added that one of the most notable features of the 'Sparks' system is the improvement in availability of real-time information for the company's supply chain team. Bringing information such as costs of raw material and products into a central location means that fluctuation in prices can be monitored and acted upon to make important business decisions, he said.

SharePoint is one of the most widely-used content and document web management platforms. Despite recording flat profits on the previous year, Microsoft's quarterly report released in January showed continuing strong demand for SharePoint collaboration tool and cloud-based soft Office 365 suite.

However a survey of IT managers in the UK by Fujitsu in May 2011 found that only 40 per cent believed that collaboration applications drive cost savings, while on average 2 out of 5 SharePoint sites were inactive.

Chief information officers identified a number of obstacles to effective use including: information existing in multiple silos; 'bad' information leading to poor decision-making; and a lack of skills to make efficient collaborations.