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Delivering business and IT requirements through a preliminary study

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16/10/2019
Juha-Tapio Teno & Harri Mikkonen

Aplicom, founded in 1990, is one of Europe’s leading developers and manufacturers of vehicle telematics and IoT solutions, as well as related software. Recently, the company realized that their customers would benefit from an ordering portal – like a B2B webstore. It could help them reduce the number of incorrect orders and make the entire ordering process more efficient.

Harri Mikkonen is Aplicom’s Head of Operations, meaning that he is responsible for the supply chain, aka the delivery of products and services. “We have come to the conclusion that digital services could make it easier for our customers to order our products. The order portal is Aplicom’s way of meeting this need”, Mikkonen explains. “Not only will it allow customers to purchase our services as if buying from a web store – it will also give them an opportunity to choose the version of the product that best meets their needs, which should naturally reduce the number of incorrect orders. It is important to us that we succeed in offering accurate deliveries to our customers all around the world,” he continues.

“Currently, our customers send us e-mail orders, which we enter into our ERP system to initiate the delivery process. We believe that our company’s revenue, sales and the number of orders will grow in the future. Our goal is to make that growth possible with our current resources, by improving our processes and operations,” Mikkonen states.

But what might be the best way to approach these various digital needs and wanting to develop an aspect of their operations in a smart way? “I wanted an evaluation process where we would describe our needs and an expert organisation would tell us about the different possibilities and create logical solutions based on them,” Mikkonen explains. “I have a background in the IT sector, and I asked my contacts whether Skillwell might be able to carry out a project like this. They were strongly recommended.”

"A clear and efficient line of communication was established very quickly, which I think is an absolute prerequisite for a successful partnership"

Mikkonen contacted Skillwell, and the project was launched right away. “Skillwell’s experts had a very practical and direct way of approaching the challenge. I really liked being able to get straight to work, skipping all the digital mumbo jumbo!” he notes. The preliminary study was created in shared workshops, which took place in a fairly rapid succession in accordance with Aplicom’s wishes. “A clear and efficient line of communication was established very quickly, which I think is an absolute prerequisite for a successful partnership. I particularly liked the way that the experts asked us questions and challenged our views instead of accepting everything at face value,” Mikkonen describes. “Throughout the process it was clear that Skillwell’s experts had plenty of experience with projects like this,” he adds.

As the final product, Aplicom received the preliminary study report. Skillwell’s preliminary studies always take into account the perspectives of both the sales personnel and the customers, as well as the technical requirements for the process. “We received a comprehensive, high-quality document that was dozens of pages long and included a description of our needs, MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and potential further development options, all presented using business-oriented IT language,” Mikkonen explains.

"I think it is strange that solutions like this are not more commonly used by Finnish industrial companies!"

Mikkonen has been very happy with the contents of the preliminary study. “An assessment like this definitely provides information and a deeper understanding of the matter at hand. I recommend that other businesses operating in the Finnish industrial and SME sectors turn to professionals for assistance instead of just talking about these things. I say this because talking in itself does not really improve the situation, so ordering a preliminary study like this can make things much clearer. I think it is strange that solutions like this are not more commonly used by Finnish industrial companies! Sometimes companies do not understand how useful an evaluation like this can be and see it as a waste of money. However, no one can buy solutions like this out-of-the-box, and there is no solution that would perfectly fit the needs of every company. If you limit yourself to pre-existing solutions, you are quickly going to run into problems,” Mikkonen warns.

A demo solution was created in 12 hours

In Aplicom’s experience, the experts’ know-how has been invaluable. “The goal was to quickly get an overview of the situation and find out what modern-day IT solutions are available,” Mikkonen explains. “I can wholeheartedly recommend Skillwell’s preliminary studies to any company considering new IT solutions. I was very impressed by the skills and know-how of Jari Ikävalko and Juha-Tapio Teno, who worked on the preliminary study.”

It was clear that Skillwell’s experts had a lot of knowledge about this type of projects. “When the demo solution that Jari created in 12 hours was presented to our sales personnel, they pointed out that it already had pretty much everything we needed,” Mikkonen laughs.

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