The mobile teams on the track also use the Enterdex Mobile App
The time when quality was used as a sales argument is behind us: for consumers this has become the lower limit, self-evidence itself. Today, companies mainly score with customer-friendliness and efficiency. For that reason, specialist in (sliding) windows and doors Belisol contacted the ICT company Brenso for her automate and optimize business processes.
Nico Van den Broeck is tried and tested in ICT: his company Brenso has been around since 2001 and has focused fully on the SME market since 2014. In this capacity, Brenso has also been working for four years with Belisol, the well-known specialist in (sliding) windows and doors in PVC, wood or aluminum.
In concrete terms, it realized an automation process for Belisol within the planning system and digitized customer files in the back office. Employees on the job can now easily view planning, required materials, contact details, etc. via a mobile device – supplemented with the possibility of feedback.
“Something had to be done anyway, because everything was still done manually and on paper,” says Stefanie Waldraet, responsible since 2007 for the planning of the installers and technicians within BeliTeam. “That was literally printing orders on paper and completing them by hand, which entails a lot of risks: it is a very time-consuming process, the chance of errors is greater and when a change occurs, it suddenly becomes a lot more complex. Even better: you can just start all over again.”
“We have fully automated that process, which makes a world of difference, especially in terms of time savings”, adds Nico Van den Broeck. “You could say that the planning has become profitable. Especially since Stefanie and her team can now closely monitor the teams on track.”
“How long were they on site, how many breaks did they take, how many kilometers did they travel…? – which leads to more correct wage calculations, for example. There is also no longer a separate tracking system for rolling stock: that was included in the automation process and integrated into the new system.”
We can draw up the planning in the future and determine from this when everything is optimally occupied
“Another advantage is that we now have a much better view of the capacity”, says Stefanie Waldraet. “We can draw up the planning in the future and determine from this when everything is optimally occupied in terms of placers, or when over- or under-occupancy threatens, so that we can make timely adjustments. If the system shows that an hour has unexpectedly become available somewhere, we can make a customer happy by booking it there. That flexibility is greatly appreciated.”
This automation journey sounds like a seamless process, but it wasn’t quite that. Because automation and digitization bring changes, and whoever says ‘change’ says ‘resistance’. “There were indeed some teams that had trouble getting along, simply because they had been used to the way of working for so long,” says Stefanie Waldraet.
“And somehow that is understandable. But that being said, they were quick to take to the new system once they saw its benefits. More insight, for example: this way they can immediately view their holidays, hours worked, etc. at any time.”
“The fact that they embraced this all in all also has to do with our working method,” adds Niko Van den Broek. “It is important to talk to people at an early stage. For example, we asked all teams in advance about their expectations, and asked them what they would change if they were in charge.”
“In this way, everyone gets the feeling that they are participating in that change process, which lowers the threshold considerably. We do not make a system for Brenso, we make a system for Belisol employees. That is an approach that we apply to all our customers: it has to come from below if you want to get people on board.”
“Furthermore, we always work on intense communication with the customer, right from the start. This is the only way to guarantee satisfaction in the end. Especially because in this case we work with a complex algorithm with about twenty parameters: you obviously need to get these as clear as possible if you want to arrive at an optimal planning.”
“And you do that by consulting efficiently with the customer. Because fair is fair: because it was such a complex algorithm, everyone at Belisol was a bit skeptical about it: would this work? The answer to that question can only be given by the user. And I think he is satisfied in this case (laughs).”
Bridges between islands of data
On Brenso’s website we came across an intriguing sentence: we build a bridge between all islands of data. Is that a fact that Nico Van den Broek, with his more than twenty years of experience, still observes in companies, we would of course like to know.
“I can safely say that this is even a real drama for many SMEs,” he answers bluntly. “Copying data, making mistakes… It happens far too often. For the sake of clarity, we do not keep any data with Brenso ourselves, but build bridges between, say, Excel and Googleor between planning and Waze or Google Maps.”
“In this way, for example, the materials list that the Belisol employees see on their tablet is retrieved in real time from the back office, or the customer’s address is automatically transferred to the navigation app via latitude and longitude.”
“In other words: there is no need to enter data again, thanks to those bridges. The photos that technicians take on site are now automatically linked to a digital file. If they were not entered correctly in the system in the past, they were simply untraceable.”
“Incidentally, that is the most important evolution I have seen in over twenty years of ICT experience: where automation projects for the SME market used to be too expensive and complex and therefore impossible, they are now feasible, because standard packages are offered today. Such as Teamleader, or the tools from Microsoft. That’s a good thing, but that’s exactly why we offer no standard packages. Because every company deviates from the standard.”
“For example, the calculation and planning systems of a window specialist such as Belisol are unique. As a company, you therefore have a choice: either you adapt your systems to the standard, either you let the systems work the way you want them to work, and then you need custom software. We offer that customizationbased on that thorough review that we just talked about.”
“And yes, our automation processes require a high investment, but the return in time and money is often a multiple and there are government support measures for this, for example via VLAIO. So the ROI is big: according to our calculations, the investment is earned back within a year to a year and a half. And that is not even counting the factors that cannot be expressed in money, such as customer and employee satisfaction.”