"Speaking the customer's language and meeting his precise needs" is not just some marketing slogan at AUCOTEC. This is backed up by an entire department with eight experienced engineering experts who work out well-founded process analyses, feasibility studies and return-on-investment (ROI) calculations for and with customers – tailored to the circumstances of each interested party.
All engineering participants involved
For this purpose, all upstream and downstream areas of potential users are also examined in relation to necessary interfaces to complementary tools. "We talk to everyone who is involved in engineering in the broadest sense, including the Sales team," said Stefan Wedderkopp, who has led and significantly expanded the department in recent years. Thanks to tailor-made process analyses, a realistic rollout plan can then be created at a very early stage.
ROI analyses are also one of the tasks of the application consultants, as the experts who are involved before a customer's decision are known at AUCOTEC. ROI analyses are more complex than process analyses, but are often another essential component of a "proof of concept", or POC for short. The individual tasks are defined for each area, and their duration and frequency of use are recorded. An overall image, which represents the best workflow with the AUCOTEC system, is modelled in a POC from the many individual tasks, together with the associated interfaces. The software is then prototypically implemented for one area and the interested parties can use it to simulate their own workflows.
Self-made wow effect
"Thus we almost always achieve a significant 'wow effect' among customers," said Wedderkopp. "This is also due to the fact that the savings and acceleration results come from the customers themselves. They experience firsthand what is possible. Thus the figures are 100% realistic," stressed the engineering expert.
Whether this involves a feasibility study or also the calculation of monetary effects in an ROI, the entire process analysis or a short version as the interested party has already worked out important information himself: anything is possible. The work varies depending on the size of the company, the participation of disciplines and the number of users. "It can take one to two days, but also a good 120 days. At least this has been our most comprehensive POC project to date," reported Stefan Wedderkopp, who is now focusing on new challenges at AUCOTEC and has handed over the department to Florian Hanka. "On average, process analyses require about five days," explained Hanka. Two days at the customer's premises, two for analysing the results and modelling the processes, and one day for the final presentation.
Mirror for the sceptics
Under Wedderkopp's leadership, the department has already simulated about 30 POCs, including workshops and customizing for the customer workflow. This has all been performed in the context of AUCOTEC's cooperative platform Engineering Base (EB). The application consultants repeatedly hear a phrase from the beneficiaries of the analyses, even from those who were initially rather sceptical about whether they needed such a thing at all: "You held up the mirror to us!" "Of course, the individual departments know how they themselves work, but not necessarily what the colleagues next door are doing," explained Florian Hanka. If you want to fully exploit EB's qualities, the merging of different engineering disciplines is crucial because the more extensive the workflow, the greater the benefits of the software. "The problem lies in the consistency, and thanks to such an analysis, customers' eyes are opened in the truest sense," added Stefan Wedderkopp. The project plans for management may consider hundreds of individual steps per department.
Even if users like to beat around the bush with specific figures in order to refrain from revealing their competitive advantage, the experience of previous projects has shown a clear trend: "The results mostly show a saving of time of between 25% and 40%," said the new Department Head Hanka, who was involved in many of the projects.
Continuing seamlessly after the decision
So what is next after such an analysis? AUCOTEC's Consulting department also has an extra SharePoint environment. This is where the application experts provide all information and analysis results for colleagues who look after customers following their decision. After the kick-off, which is always attended by the Presales experts, the Service team assumes responsibility. It does so for project management, implementation support, customizing and migration of legacy data as well as its processing, as required. "Application and implementation consulting interact seamlessly with each other in our company," said Florian Hanka. "Thus our colleagues speak our customers' language and meet their precise needs."