Cloud-based solution replaces Excel configurator
Until now, HAUG Sauer configured the piston compressors for its sales partners using an Excel application.The company from St. Gallen now uses the Online Configurator based on Microsoft SharePoint and Power Apps.
Using the Excel configurator, it was possible, based on technical inputs, to create a design of the compressor taking into account the modular system and the customer-specific operating data. The calculation was also the basis for a first indicative offer to customers or distributors. The Excel file was an internal document and was not sent.
In a test phase, two sales partners were trained on the Excel calculation program with the aim of enabling them to create indicative offers independently, without support from HAUG Sauer. Based on this experience – and in order to give sales partners more independence and speed in creating indicative quotes – HAUG Sauer decided to implement this via the cloud with a browser-guided process for all sales partners.
A cloud-based configurator using Power Apps and SharePoint Online
After a short evaluation, it was clear that the new configurator should be built on Microsoft technology and operated close to the standard of the Microsoft tools used. A combination of PowerApps and SharePoint Online was used as the solution. PowerApps was used to implement the form and Excel configurator logic. This technology provides a web-based solution for creating forms with the most common functionalities, such as mandatory fields, calculations and formatting. SharePoint Online was used for data storage. To grant external users access to the web form, the Azure B2B Connector for guest users was used.
The implementation or replacement of the old configurator could be realized within 6 weeks. This short implementation time was only possible thanks to the use of the latest Microsoft technologies and the associated low code/no code approach. All functionalities, workflows and processes could be implemented exclusively by configuring or parameterizing the corresponding Microsoft tools.
Benefits achieved in phase 1
- A central data pool for the basis, maintenance and further processing of the configurator
- Easy access granting for external sales partners and internal users (application engineering)
- Support and expansion of business development by means of consistent and centralized data
- Fast and secure availability of a created compressor configuration for all stakeholders
- Fast continuation of work on a created configuration by HAUG Application Engineering, since the configurations created by the sales partners are available in real time
- Evaluation of usage and result data from a business development perspective using modern cloud technologies, such as how often a configurator is used by whom, how many configurations actually go on to HAUG Sauer for a further quotation/project step, etc.
- The sales partner has comparison options for different configurations at his disposal, which provide important information at a glance
- A download area for data sheets and specifications for the same target group as the configurator provides additional added value
- Updates of configurator logics or compressor types can be quickly and easily entered by HAUG and are directly available in the configurator.
Outlook and expansion of the configurator
The first ideas for the further expansion of the online configurator already exist. A print version of a configuration or of different configuration variants as a factsheet on Word/PDF is provided. An initial rough budget quote would also be feasible. It is still being examined whether the individual configurations should be supplemented with graphics and characteristic curves and also integrated into the print rejection. The online configurator is used by calculation specialists at the sales partners, who must have detailed knowledge of the modular system and the configurator.
In a further phase, a compressor suggestion function is provided, which searches for suitable configurations in the existing modular system on the basis of some selected operating data. The selection is made on the basis of simplified rules for the selection and evaluation of compressor designs. This would also allow the sales department to generate proposals directly without the support of the calculation specialist and submit them to the customers. This would further improve the independence and speed of the offer process and have a motivating effect on sales. Likewise, suggestions from the extensive modular system could be displayed, which can be produced more cheaply or more simply and support standardization.
Online configurator is versatile
The basic technology of this configurator, including workflows and stored processes, could certainly be applied to other industries. Conceivable here are, for example, manufacturers of complex and customized pumps or similar technologies.
“We were very satisfied with the cooperation in the project – it was very efficient, personally very pleasant and professionally top. The implemented solution brings us to a whole new level of interaction with our international sales partners in sales and engineering.Beat Frefel, Managing Director / Managing Director of HAUG Sauer Kompressoren AG
We would like to use Sharepoint again for future similar requirements.”