That’s the ideal scenario – but what about when things don’t go to plan, and you realize the technology you’ve invested so heavily in and spent months implementing isn’t fit for your purpose? Do you rip it out and start again, or carry on and push for improvements from the vendor?
That was the conundrum facing hardwood floor care firm Bona back in 2012. The company, which has 500 staff worldwide and sells to 90 countries, was looking to upgrade its call center system and decided to go with Microsoft Dynamics. But part way into the project, Bona encountered problems, explains Todd Schutte, the firm’s Director of e-Learning:
We got about halfway through implementing Microsoft Dynamics, and they kept coming back and saying it would speed up. Then they finally came back to say, this is how it’s going to be. It was too slow to refresh when we were on calls, typing in information.
Even though the firm had made a significant time and financial investment in Dynamics, it decided to rip out the system and start again:
We’d never undertaken a project like that, we were still doing so many things manually. It was a pain, but it was also the right decision. It was better to make the decision halfway through, than try to force it through and be unhappy in the end.
It really showed us you’ve got to go with what works. Otherwise in the long run, it costs you too much. You’ve got to make sure you pay for what you want, as opposed to - this is kind of what we need but the costs are better over here and then you have to force yourself to adapt and it doesn’t work.
So back to the drawing board, and as Bona was looking to move towards the cloud, the firm next considered Salesforce. Even though it was running SAP for ERP, the German firm was not initially in the running. Schutte explained this was because, back in 2012, Hybris had not had good reviews and so they didn’t even look at it as an option.
But this changed after the failed Dynamics rollout, when Bona’s head of US operations asked Schutte to investigate SAP after a request from Swedish HQ, keen on better integration between its systems. Schutte said that by 2014, SAP had made a lot of changes and upgrades to Hybris, making it an ideal option.
Fortunately, the Hybris rollout proved to be much smoother. Thanks to interaction between the implementation team and Bona staff during the project, adoption was quick and painless, and the firm now offers a better service to its customers and staff. Shutte says:
Before, we were keeping everything in spiral bound notebooks and Access databases. It was hard to go and find information or details on past calls or issues that customers had and tie it all together. You were always starting fresh, which isn’t always the best.
Now we can capture that data through Hybris, it’s easier for us to communicate back to the customer, stay in touch with them, make sure we give them the right information and in a timely manner.
Bona has used the new system to gather better insights into a range of metrics, from how many calls it was taking in a day, how long people were having to wait before their call was answered and whether staff were giving the right answers. From that data, it developed a script especially aimed at equipping new hires with a set of common questions and basic answers, meaning customers were getting the best information whoever they spoke to.
Bona was also pleased with the customizable nature of the new system, which made it easy to make additions specific to the floor care company, and hide elements it didn’t want visible. Schutte explains:
SAP is very flexible. You can’t change the way businesses work. The software has to adapt to what they need. That was one of the nice thing about Hybris. We were able to make it look and function and do exactly what we needed it to. It came with some great out-of-the-box features just as they were, probably about 80% is out of the box because most call centers have those basic functions and information that you need. To be able to customize that other 20% was definitely a good direction for us.
The only major downside to the project was one of Bona’s own making. It decided to try and clean up around 100,000 customer records in its Access database so there was a base of information already in the Hybris system. Schutte says:
Somebody went record by record by record to see if answers were put in the same way, if we’d listed the right product – that alone took us three of the six months just to scrub that data.
We would not do that again. We couldn’t scrub it hard enough and we found out we still had a lot of bad information in there. It kind of skewed some of our information and some of the reporting that we first came out with. Even if we thought we’d cleaned it up, it still wasn’t in the right format to transfer it over to this new system and have it be meaningful. If we could go back and do it again, we would start from zero.
As a company just one year shy of its centenary, Bona has worked hard to modernize its business, and Schutte says that in the 26 years he has worked at the firm, he’s witnessed huge change in its shift to digital and automation:
We’ve obviously had to adapt and take advantage of the technology, just like we do on our manufacturing side. We believe we’re the world leader, especially in water-borne products but even the floor care side, the machines, and we always try to take advantage of technology and building the best products there.
Our employees look to us to continue to find better ways to serve the customer, provide better reporting and better decision-making. So it makes sense that we also look to how to run our business from a hi-tech point of view. If you don’t, I don’t think you will survive 100 years, or even 20 years, with how fast things are moving now.