Penope Oy is located in Lahti and has been operating in technical wholesale since 1973. The company imports, sells, services and installs woodworking machinery and associated spare parts and accessories. Penope Oy’s business unit Enerec also imports, sells and services environmental technology equipment and production lines. Enerec’s product selection includes equipment for both the recycling and energy sectors.
Penope and Enerec are two of the highest-quality brands in their sector in Finland. With the aid of their skilled installation and maintenance personnel, they provide project deliveries and maintenance services throughout the country.
Penope Oy wanted an experienced professional to lead digitalisation
ICT Manager Mika Heini was hired to make the company’s “giant leap towards digitalisation” and develop the company’s business on digital terms with an eye to the long term.
“The company’s Board had decided to turn its gaze to the future, and that meant renewing our digital environment. They also understand that this isn’t a one-off measure, but a question of continual development. And that’s why they decided to hire someone for the task rather than using a consultant. The former ICT Manager happened to be retiring at the time, so it was a suitable juncture,” says Heini.
“I have twenty years of experience in IT, and just before taking this job I spent four years working on ERP projects as a supplier. Thanks to my background, I knew how to approach this kind of project.”
Platform choice a key part of the digitalisation project
As an experienced system renewer, Heini took an analytical approach to the project. The first choice to make was the platform. The second was the system and the third was the supplier. Every choice was carefully considered with an eye to both its short- and long-term effects.
“I didn’t see it primarily as a system project, but rather as creating a foundation for digital business. That’s why it was clear from the outset that we wanted a cloud-based system. And not just any cloud-based system, but one that would support business development both now and in the future. We decided on Microsoft Azure,” says Heini.
New system paves the way for development
Pairing Azure with a Microsoft system solution was the logical choice. The former ERP, CRM, customer service tool and time tracking app for maintenance and installation personnel made way for Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Dynamics 365 Field Service.
A LogicApp solution, which is based on Microsoft’s Azure Integration Services (AIS), enabled Penope Oy’s various applications to be integrated in a way that enabled data transparency in accordance with the company’s specific requirements.
“The Microsoft Dynamics 365 product family made a favourable impression, as we were able to build a cohesive and real-time solution that, being cloud-based, has the potential for almost limitless further development. Thanks to its shared platform and perfect compatibility, the system is more than the sum of its parts. Initially, we weren’t intending to replace our CRM, but our requirements specification showed that it would make sense with regard to the big picture. And as it didn’t really affect the cost, it was an easy decision to make,” says Heini.
The choice of supplier has a major impact on a system project
Heini’s background as a supplier was also evident in his choice of partner. A supplier needs to have technical expertise, business understanding, and a support organisation that is large enough to meet requirements once the system is in use.
“We had a relatively good idea of what our system architecture would be like, and Digia’s tender was very much in line with my own vision. The cloud-based Dynamics 365 Business Central system was brand new at the time, and there weren’t really any deployment experiences to draw on yet. However, Digia has made many on-premises deliveries of the same system, so their technical expertise was also convincing in this area. A variety of integrations were also required with payroll, customer information, and sales, purchase and travel applications. Digia also had convincing references here,” says Heini.
Teamwork and Teams work
The project involved a very extensive one-off delivery and three Digia teams were involved: Business Central, Sales, and Integration. Due to the large size of the project, tight project management and steering were critical. The parties therefore decided to conduct project meetings and workshops remotely using Teams. This proved to be a good choice, as work was carried out efficiently and remote meetings saved both time and money.
Deployment went extremely well, and all parties had a shared view of how and when it would be a good idea to make adjustments to the system.
“Our remote meetings worked extremely well. Both meetings and workshops were well prepared, and we were able to focus on the essentials.
We both tried to resist the temptation to adapt the new systems to Penope and Enerec’s familiar practices, as I knew the closer we could get to a ‘complete package’, the more we could avoid the headache of continual updates in the future.
Despite the involvement of three teams, Digia presented an unbroken front, although the integration team’s large workload caused a slight delay in launching testing. On the other hand, our people hadn’t had time to practice using the new system, so we had to slightly postpone its introduction for that reason, too. In hindsight, these minor delays actually turned out to be positive things from a risk management perspective,” says Heini.
Fast benefits from Dynamics 365
Penope Oy treated the system project as laying the foundations for digitalisation and future business. However, the short-term benefits were also considerable. The new solution made customer service practices more efficient, as it was linked to the CRM and gave customer service agents direct access to which products had been delivered to customers, their maintenance history and other essential details. The IoT devices delivered by Penope also report critical errors directly to customer service.
However, the biggest change was seen in work management for maintenance services.
“Our business benefitted from the customer service solution and Field Service in particular. We had previously been using an app to track the number of hours worked in maintenance services, but we lacked an actual solution for work management. But we’ve now paved the way for significantly improving our maintenance operations, as we can forward tickets to maintenance personnel on, for example, a geographical basis,” says Heini.
Main benefits stem from platform versatility and a real-time overview
Personnel were also fairly quick to internalise the new operational logic and learn how to use the new system. Real-time financial monitoring based on operational logic also generates all kinds of advantages for business management.
“From a business perspective, one of the greatest benefits of the new solution is that data entered into any of the systems will be automatically transferred to accounting and financial management. This creates transparency and gives us a real-time overview of everything related to the company’s finances, and this enables us to be more confident in our business-related decision-making.
Another critical benefit was obtaining a technological foundation for business development. Many of the devices we supply already have IoT functionality, and we’ll now be able to offer more extensive preemptive maintenance services. Another developmental path is remote-controlled maintenance, for which we are well prepared.
Thanks to Digia, we now have the technology stack in place. And once the coronavirus pandemic has been brought under control, the door to the future will be open,” laughs Heini.