LoQutus helps Renson restructure orderplacement and records management processes
Web application/product configurator delivers pronounced strategic and commercial value
Renson, specialising in ventilation and solar shading, has a history of pursuing continuous product innovation. However, two specific problems had slowed its growth: the lack of uniformity in records management and insufficient streamlining of the order placement process. Strategic partner LoQutus brought Renson a comprehensive solution with the development of a web application/product configurator that set the company back on the path to growth.
Renson develops ventilation and solar shading systems, ranging from relatively simple residential applications to complex solutions for apartment buildings. The company serves a global market from its headquarters in Waregem. Renson was nominated as finalist for the “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2015.
Renson is constantly adapting its product line against the backdrop of the rapidly changing construction market with increasing regulation of energy efficiency and ventilation. And the company prides itself on developing new products, bringing them to market in a very short time.
Making knowledge accessible
Patrick Snauwaert, Group Director ICT at Renson, says, “In about 2009, we developed a vision of how we could better communicate with our customers going forward. At the time, the installers, frame manufacturers, contractors and others submitted orders in a variety of ways: from a handwritten piece of paper on the building site to a fax or an email message. That inconsistency created problems for us and hindered our ability to quickly and efficiently process orders.”
Part of the issue for Renson was the fact that the company does not sell standardised products. Each order is custom-made: measurements, colour, finish, etc. At the same time, there can often be technical limitations because not all specifications can actually be met in practice. “In addition, there were only a few people within Renson who were fully informed about the entire product line,” continues Snauwaert. “They also dealt with the orders. The centralisation of this knowledge sometimes created problems for us as well.”
Finally, Renson’s records management was poorly structured. The various account managers were fully aware of their own projects, but it was difficult for others to follow up in their absence. In short, the challenge was to make the knowledge base more widely accessible.
The travel industry as guideline
Renson went in search of a solution and a partner to help them correct these problems. Snauwaert explains, “Most of the proposals we received were comprised of a simple e-commerce application. In view of the scope and complexity of our products, this was not enough. We were aiming for a demand-driven solution in which the customer can more fully specify his order. Coincidentally, we encountered a tour operator during a meeting who, although in a different industry, had solved a similar problem. Their experience was a real revelation. The way in which people order vacations online today, including numerous specifications (type of transport, type of destination, type of accommodation, formula, etc.), actually closely matches the challenges we were facing. That helped us solidify the required methodology we needed to seek. We wanted a dynamic system that could be fuelled by our existing ERP system. Nevertheless, the question about who was the best strategic partner for us still remained.
That partner proved to be LoQutus. They not only knew how to set up such a system, but they also clicked with Renson’s IT-staff. Thomas Vandaele, Solution Architect & Analyst Developer at LoQutus, comments, “In addition to other requirements, it should be possible for customers within the entire foreign dealer network to be able to use the system. That means a single flow of information from any customer up to Renson’s work centre. Renson wanted rapid feedback throughout the entire customer experience, and LoQutus could meet that need.”
A never-ending story
The analysis of the records management system commenced at the end of 2010 and Renson implemented the new system at the end of 2011. Snauwaert adds, “The complete development of this business-critical application was based on mutual consultation. Our IT team had monthly meetings with the people from LoQutus right from the start. LoQutus listened to our questions and suggestions, proposed solutions and kept up with the entire development in a very timely manner. These meetings are still ongoing because systems like this should never be considered as static. Renson is always innovating and developing new products and processes, so we fully expect that ongoing refinement of the system will always be necessary.”
The development of the web application/product configurator commenced at the end of 2012. Renson’s employees entered the technical product knowledge using a flexible file format. Since that time, the web application has been updated continuously to address the demand for additional functions. Now, approximately 3,000 customers are using the system, comprising a total of about 8,000 customer employees. That, in turn, generates a wealth of useful information.
Snauwaert says, “Another benefit is the fact that we can use the new platform to quickly familiarise new employees with our complete product line. And today, 50 of our biggest customers are submitting up to 98% of their orders via the product configurator, with a seamless information flow that makes us much more efficient. This also demonstrates how easy to use the system is.”
A significant time saving
The web application/product configurator saves significant time for both Renson customers and employees. The result is that error-free orders are processed much more quickly and problems are solved faster thanks to proper records management. Both Renson and its customers also benefit from better communication. The processing of uncomplicated orders takes place almost completely automatically, so that production can start immediately. This also makes handling last-minute orders easier. In addition to more efficient ordering, deliveries also proceed more smoothly.
Looking towards the future, Vandaele concludes, “LoQutus continues to support and guide Renson in a process of continuous improvement. Among other things, we are currently working with them to develop an Intranet that will make internal communications even more efficient.”
“The web application/product configurator developed by LoQutus is really a commercial direct hit. Our seven biggest customers(accounting for 50% of the turnover in Belgium) even use our new system for their customers. In this way, they ensure that no mistakes occur in the order. They then simply migrate the technical data over to their invoice, for an efficient and error-free result.''
Patrick Snauwaert - Group Director ICT, Renson