IT Selector interview with Thinkwise
Royal Saan replaces legacy business software within one year using the Thinkwise enterprise low-code platform
The logistics service provider, Royal Saan, relied on a self-developed ERP platform with four linked software packages for many years. The company selected Thinkwise to completely replace this software and integrate it using the low-code platform. This was accomplished in just ten months and resulted in flexible, modifiable software and drastically reduced costs.
For a company like Royal Saan everything revolves around having the best possible and most efficient logistics and administrative processes. To achieve this the company developed its own ERP platform using Progress during the 1990’s, including interfaces with four standard software packages for HRM, CRM and others. However, modifying this outdated platform was time consuming and expensive, in addition to paying significant maintenance fees for the various software packages.
Edwin Saan, in his role as business architect, was given the assignment to look for an alternative and found the perfect match in the Thinkwise Platform. His plan was to recreate all the existing software in a new, integrated low-code environment within one year. “The management could hardly believe the business case,” says Edwin. “If this is possible, then it is actually a no-brainer.”
Since the project involved the entire business operation and all business units, this was a major change for the organization. For this reason, the various applications were dealt with in phases and in different modules, with a high level of involvement of the employees. Edwin Saan: “If you load a data model with Thinkwise, the user interface is practically already done. This enables employees to immediately see the results and indicate what we can improve. This is a valuable addition compared to just drawing up a requirements document. Users find this complicated and have trouble envisioning the future application based on text alone.”
The HRM system is a good example of the interactive development process. The employees made screen shots of all the screens of the existing application and they indicated which functionality they do or do not use.
“I drafted the data model using this input,” Edwin explains. “The platform then generated the screens, which I polished up slightly, after which the users could provide comments and suggestions again. They were very enthusiastic, as this made the development process tangible for them.”
The employees were extremely satisfied about the final result. This was partly because the old application was almost fully redeveloped, modified and improved upon to their specifications. Edwin Saan: “Everything is very recognizable because we used the same definitions and terminology as in the original application. Our HR employees could immediately start working with it.” The two-man development team at Saan, supported by a Thinkwise specialist, were able to recreate the entire application landscape using Thinkwise in only ten months.
“It is unbelievable, how fast this went,” says Edwin. “We went live with the software in one go at the start of the new year. Following a short training course, the users could quickly work with the software even though at that time not everything was completed. There were almost no bugs, but many new requests. During the first months of the year, we developed the remaining parts and many requests were addressed and implemented at the same time.”
One of the best results of the project, according to Edwin Saan, is the invoicing process, that has been extensively automated and is now far less labor intensive. “The entire process, from signing-off a receipt through to invoicing and the final administrative processing, is almost fully automated. A pro-forma invoicing process has also been implemented, including a function which – at the express wishes of many customers – completely and automatically combines all attachments and the invoice itself into 1 document. This saves us an incredible amount of time.”
In addition, this project achieved an important part of the business case, namely phasing out the existing software packages, and the associated cost savings. “All our business software is now integrated in one platform,” Edwin states. “Furthermore, it now only contains the functionality that is important for us. With Thinkwise you do not end up with a ginormous system, of which you only use around half and pay high license fees for. You get exactly what you need. And you save tens of thousands of euros in costs every year.”
The transition to the Thinkwise Platform has been a tremendously successful choice for Royal Saan. Both the fast completion of the project as well as the functional benefits speak for themselves. Further development of the software is ongoing. Within a period of 5 months, using the Thinkwise Platform, a new warehouse management system has been developed and implemented at a recently acquired logistics company. “Thinkwise is just a very talented organization,” Edwin Saan decides. “I wholly subscribe to their ideas and vision about low-code. The entire software world is growing in that direction. I have no programming knowledge myself, but even I have learned to work with this low-code platform. As a business architect, I used Thinkwise to create applications by myself faster than I could explain them to a programmer.”