Case Study: Westermans International - Continuous Improvement
Westermans International are a family owned business who enjoy a stellar reputation globally for supplying quality and exceptionally reliable metalworking equipment. Established in 1967, the company was originally known as Leicester Welding Supplies. 10 years later and with significant growth, they naturally progressed into the market of provisioning second hand and refurbished welding machinery & plasma cutting equipment.
Today, Westermans are the proud employers of 15 staff in their impressive 30000 sq foot headquarters made up of multiple offices, warehouses and workshops.
They are trusted suppliers to multinational corporations such as Altrad Babcocks, Rolls Royce and EDF and have a loyal, growing customer base.
The Partnership between Westermans International and Cool Code Company is true to form in that there has not been any single engagement for any specific challenge but a collection of engagements and projects focused around continuous improvement in all IT aspects of Westermans.
The engagement started back in 2008, Westermans were growing at pace and realised their website was quickly becoming outdated and unfit for purpose. It was initially created using Classic ASP which was out of support. Content wise, it was very basic and there was very little information about the products on offer which was driving significant call volumes which staff in turn, struggled to accommodate.
In addition, the end to end order and inventory management process was being undertaken via spreadsheets which was of course a drawn out manual process, very prone to mistakes.
The initial solution was a two-fold exercise. First and foremost, it was established that Westermans needed a user friendly, self service based website where prospective clients could access the information they needed without having to speak to someone. There was also a need for SEO improvement as this was essentially non-existent in the current website format at the time.
The second and more complex element of the solution was mapping out and understanding all processes involved in the end to end order journey from initial quote/discussion right through to invoicing and everything in between. This allowed the opportunity to understand which of these processes could be digitalised and how they could all be brought together.
From this process mapping exercise, it was determined the following was required -
A bespoke platform with elements of both a CRM and WFM tool, encompassing all aspects of the order journey that could be integrated seamlessly with the website to allow not only for self service in terms of accessing product information, but so clients could actually interact with the back-end system and initiate and view the order journey.
The CRM/WFM system was to include the following critical elements -
- Client database
- Inventory management capability
- A quote builder tool
- Order placement ability
- Tracking ability from dispatch to fulfilment
- A definitive audit trail
- Mobile app for clients
- Client engagement portal
- Stock Control
These two projects took place separately with the website upgrade and enhancements being first and the hybrid CRM/WFM platform following.
Since its launch, the Westermans International website has continued to morph to keep in line with client demand and feedback. The website was built using .NET technology with a SQL database. It integrates with some of Westermans other core systems including Ruler Analytics and Mailchimp and is now flexible and accommodating to change.
From an integrated CRM/WFM perspective, Westermans now have an efficient, streamlined process from start to finish, encompassing all the elements listed above on to one single platform. The technology used reflects that of the website and allows for the seamless talking of the front and backend for clients and employees alike.
From a client and prospect perspective, they have a user friendly, easy to navigate website to interact with that clearly shows the products on offer with key corresponding information that allows them to make decisions easily. Clients can view and do everything they need to themselves as opposed to having to spend time speaking to someone (although the option is of course still there), which allows for a much better customer experience.
From an employee perspective, it has streamlined the whole end to end process from initial quote to order fulfilment and invoicing due to the merging and streamlining of processes that were initially independent. It has increased overall staff efficiency by 75% (and 99% when staff are off) and mistakes such as losing quotes, using the wrong quote numbers or giving incorrect tracking information are completely negated from a systems perspective.
From a business perspective, Westermans International now have a flexible all in one platform that integrates seamlessly with it’s website and can be updated as often or as little as is required without long lead times or complications. Employees are quicker onboard due to having to learn how to use one system as opposed to learning multiple different processes and then having to understand how to pull them together. International clients have easy access to the information (and languages) they need and due to this, Westermans continue to be market leaders in their field.
Cool Code Company have and will continue to develop and enhance the Westermans International website to accommodate technology requirement changes, integrations and usability to ensure Continuous Improvement. New languages will become available on the website in the near future so Westermans have a wider client capability for enquiries and interactions. Cool Code Company will also be facilitating a move to the cloud for Westermans’ CRM platform over the coming months to allow for optimum performance and cost savings.
Claire Spillane, Director at Westermans International had this to say about her personal experience working in partnership with Cool Code Company -
Q) How was your IT landscape looking before you started work with Cool Code Company and why did it need to change?
A) Our website was first built back in the 90's and whilst it was great for a few years, the business grew rapidly and we quickly realised it was not fit for purpose. As an international business, our website was our Sales Brochure and had to work well for our clients who we would never meet face to face back then.
We had several elements that needed addressing -
SEO became even more important with the competition getting on board with digital marketing, we needed something we could add and edit quickly and (often daily) ourselves for the customer to find and see.
The Sales Director retained too much in his own head and nothing was traceable or consistent. Price requests were increasing rapidly and we needed an automated system to respond. Encouraging visitors to the website to complete various forms so that we could track the amount of spend on Google Adwords was another piece of the jigsaw that Cool Code Company addressed.
The streamlined sales order journey was imperative so that we could trace from the buyers initial request right through to dispatch notes being created – and everything in between. Cool Code Company built this around how we work so that we all felt comfortable to use it and it has nearly all of the features each employee requested. It is bespoke software just for us.
Q) How has the work Cool Code Company has done been of benefit?
A) For 2 years we have made unbelievable progress in the office so that any staff member can pick up on a colleague’s work when off. It’s so simple, that all Admin employees can give the status of a Sales order, know when stock is available or sold, what is booked in to dispatch, who needs to leave a review, or who needs ordering to being able to access historical sales data when needed. We finally feel like a professional operation with every bit of information at our fingertips.
Q) What did you value most about the whole engagement process and the current relationship?
A) Tony Hearn is a star. He is one of the most reliable people to work with, always responding to requests and giving realistic time frames for the work. He gives honest advice and I never feel I am wasting his time.
Q) Would you recommend Cool Code Company?
A) Without a doubt I would and indeed have recommended Cool Code Company. For start-ups especially, I think they could benefit from the way Cool Code Company works, speaking in understandable terms but also being aware of marketing strategies for our website and not just coding work. They are happy to work with other 3rd parties which makes life easier. Over the years they have truly kept us going.