Increased growth meant additional processes and more information that had to be handled. For Eltel, the situation wasn't without its issues. A cloud solution that could evolve at the company's pace and give control over all the details was therefore implemented. – Today we take decisions based on facts and statistics, not on good assumptions, says Per Schjelderup from Eltel.
– In 2015 we were faced with the challenge of handling several thousands of aftermarket connections and a resource pool that had grown from a handful of people to over a hundred in a few years. Per Schjelderup, who was responsible for fiber connections at Eltel then, needed to find a working solution to how the processes were managed. I Stockholm alone, fiber connections within the aftermarket grew from around 500 to over 8 000 in a few years. All the information was scattered across a large number of Excel files that had to be kept synchronized on a daily basis. This was a vast and time consuming task. – All our photo documentation was previously stored in Dropbox and similar solutions. We rapidly outgrew that solution as the amount of photos grew in tenfold, to tens of thousands of images. Too much of our time was spent searching among documents and compiling information, Per says.
In April 2016, a collaboration with IS Tools begun, and a solution was launched by June the same year. At start it would only support the simpler processes but it successively evolved. – We've really been able to improve and refine the tool whenever the need for it surfaced instead of having to wait for new releases. The demands change over time as every new customer has their own unique processes and requirements, which means that we sometimes need to adapt very quickly. The flexibility in the system as been extremely important for us.
One strength according to Per is the availability of statistics. Since Eltel can measure every step and has full control over each individual process it's possible to identify bottlenecks early on and adjust accordingly.
– Something that really adds value is that we can benchmark subcontractors and compare them. That gives us a whole different base for decisions than earlier.
Per also sees the benefits of having all the information updated in realtime. Inviting clients to follow the status on their project is a good service, but when they can see the details behind the status themselves it's much easier to have a dialogue around how the project is running too.
Eager to expand the system to Europe
Eltel are using the solution at six offices across Sweden today and are now looking to expand it to an additional ten offices.
– There's a big advantage in simply paying a per-user license fee, which is the payment model being used. That way we've been able to trim the cost to the number of active projects, paying only for exactly the number of licenses we have actually used, says Per.
Eltel's presence around Europe implies the possibility to introduce the same system everywhere.
– If we can use the same solution we'll be able to draw from the experiences already present within the company. Since the system has built-in functionality to achieve GDPR compliance it should be a relatively easy step to take. Any additional customizations that need to be made depending on the country are simple adjustments that we don't see a reason to worry about, says Per.
Digital all the way
Many will recognize the situation when the subcontractor invoices start trickling in. A lot of time and energy is spent on verifying that the specifications are correct and to check that all work being invoiced has been approved and completed. Per feels that the situation has changed completely since they started using the new system.
– Today we continuously report steps as they're completed. If not all included activities are completed we'll have a dialogue with the subcontractor to find out why, before getting invoiced. We're in control of when invoicing happens and we know in advance that the work is verified since every step is controlled. Working digitally all the way, having complete visibility of all the details, and following a frictionless flow are the greatest rewards from using the system.
– And that we're able to spend our time and attention on the right things. Today we take decisions based on facts and statistics, not on good assumptions. Deviations can be followed and acted on in realtime instead of having to spend valuable time trying to find them first, Per concludes.
Per's advice to anyone considering a new IT solution:
- Dare thinking in new terms. Don't be afraid to get rid of Excel files, Dropbox or OneDrive. Encorporate those into the IT solution instead.
- It should be simple. See the value in flexible solutions. Situations change all the time and that requires a highly adaptable system.
- Learn the details. And understand every part of your local process. You are the only experts within your field and you know exactly how your processes must work. Define every single step - we, for instance, have more than 70 unique statuses for each customer.
- Start small. Begin automating simpler tasks to gradually free up resources. Get more advanced over time. A few IS Tools user licenses are enough to have the whole toolbox at your disposal.