Replatforming an existing spare parts ecommerce environment in a large international B2B organisation can be a challenge. Replatforming under circumstances that Dynapac was facing, is a true tour de force.
The project's starting position was hard:
- The existing e-commerce platform was becoming obsolete within the next 6 months
- ERPs were being replaced simultaneously due to a company merger
- business needed to keep running
- lots of complex integrations
- and while starting the development phase: the COVID-19 pandemic took over Europe - travelling, and in-person meetings were not possible.
Still the replatforming was done within budget and deadline (5 months!) and is now being rolled out to 12 countries and counting.
How did they do it?
Freddy Lessmeister, Vice President Aftermarket Logistics at Dynapac: “Our organization was acquired by the Fayat Group a few years ago and this meant that our IT landscape eventually had to be carved out. We had been given a deadline of 6 months sharp to replace our current order portal by a new e-commerce platform.
For us, the timing actually was good, because improving the customer journey was already on our roadmap. This absolute and frightening deadline also turned out to be quite helpful. We knew we had to make decisions super-fast and could not afford to keep lingering.”
Before starting replatforming, Dynapac had a vision of using the digital channels to significantly increase their customer satisfaction and loyalty, and with this drive their business. They were convinced that the new platform could help improve the customer journey.
By integrating seamlessly with Dynapac’s multiple ERPs, the platform would offer real time pricing, stock and order information along with a smooth order and checkout experience. Additional integrations would improve the on-site search and tailoring the products to the installed base.
Such a ‘my fleet’ feature, along with an intuitive design and localized content, resulted in an easy-to-use and customer-centric customer portal that improves user experience significantly. Freddy: “This vision helped us in making decisions and also explaining them to our organization.
What also helped is that in Intershop, we found an e-commerce solution that already met a large chunk of our B2B specific requirements, thus enabling a short time to market. Evident (now Valtech) is an experienced and committed implementation partner with a lot of B2B commerce know-how. So, with these partners, we started our great adventure in Q4 of 2019.”
Learning 1: Do not economize on the definition phase
Especially when you are in a hurry, you must not skimp on time nor budget during the definition phase. One thing you know for sure is that you have to make tough choices for the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to remain manageable.
Therefore, it is crucial to kick off with a deep dive into your organization, clients, processes, IT landscape, etc. This is the best way for your partner to get to know you and your business, share knowledge and experience and jointly make the right decisions towards solution design and approach.
Especially in case of complex integrations with multiple ERPs, it is important to create blueprints at an early stage together. Next to your clients, it is also crucial to involve the business and the most important people who will be working with the new platform.
Ensuring their involvement from the beginning really helps making difficult decisions and the adoption of the new platform. A well-executed definition phase creates a solid base and enables the much needed flexibility for the development phase!
Learning 2: Work agile
Freddy: "When looking for a partner, Intershop suggested to work with Evident (Valtech) because of their experience with both Intershop and B2B. More specifically, because of their focus on the B2B aftermarket and spare parts business. We also chose Evident because they work agile.
Agile/scrum is a methodology that we knew we needed to be able to meet the tight deadline and budget we were facing while coping with existing uncertainties. We especially appreciated the frequent releases, the clear communication lines and insights that were provided on a weekly basis.
We created a rhythm together, continuously steering the project in the right direction.
Because ready-to-use features were delivered every 2 weeks, we were also able to continuously add content to the platform, instead of having to wait until the very end of the development phase. This was a huge time-saver.”
Learning 3: Share complexities with your partner.
Creating this user friendly and smooth customer portal required quite a few complex integrations. Freddy: “A good example of the pragmatic partnership with Evident was that we divided the complexity between ourselves. Instead of fingerpointing at each other, or ignoring challenging tasks, we analyzed where the complexities were, and decided by whom they were best addressed together.
Thus, equally sharing and embracing the challenges in an open and true partnership. So, don’t just expect everything to be handled by your partner, but take joint responsibility for success”
Learning 4: start with an MVP and stay focused
In order to meet the tight deadline, Dynapac took the approach of starting with the basis. Freddy: “We created an MVP and stayed away from all the extras and extravagant requirements for the first phase. We also analyzed what functionality from the existing platform was not essential and could be left out or replaced by new, out-of-the-box features. This allowed us to first focus on the basics needed for an initial launch that had to support the running business.
This main goal prevented us from distractions and internal discussions that could hinder the first release.”
When defining what functionalities must be part of the MVP, make sure they actually add significant value to the platform and dare to say no if they don’t. Try to continuously find the optimal balance between business value and implementation costs.
Learning 5: free up the right resources and give them responsibility
“Another important part of the success is that we, as a client, also realized that we had to invest a lot of time into the collaboration. We knew that a project like this is a joint effort. We therefore involved people in the project who had a good track record within the organization and understood the business. They were freed up to spend a significant part of their time to help succeed the project. This dedication also justified their mandate to make decisions based on business value and feasibility, which is very important in an agile way of working.”
Learning 6: look beyond your city to find the right talent
Freddy: “Based on the advice of Intershop we selected Evident (Valtech) as our implementation partner. To be honest, this was a difficult choice, since they are primarily based in the Netherlands and Portugal. But they convinced us that a combination of working remote and agile and being regularly on location in Germany during the process should do the job.
And then, just when we started the development phase, the COVID-19 regulations came about. Luckily, the key team members already knew each other very well and we already built up experience in working remote. We brought the whole Dynapac-Evident team together and defined a new optimal way of communicating and working together.
We adjusted quickly and experienced literally no hiccups during the development phase. We did miss the get-togethers, dinners and celebrations though. But we will make that up one day!”
Dynapac discovered something else in this: “Since everyone’s working remote, this means you can look beyond your close region to find the very best fitting partner out there. Partners and team members can be selected based on their experience instead of their geographical location. This opens up a huge potential for new partnerships and recruitment.”