Digital sales transformation for a global engineering company

Vahterus

Condensing more than 20 years of consistent engineering work into a new digital channel is no small feat. While at it, together with Columbia Road, we managed to build the first online sales tools in a very complex environment and start our digital sales transformation journey with immediate concrete results, and more to come. Fredrik Östling, CDO, Vahterus


Key objectives

Vahterus sells high-end heat exchangers for industrial applications globally. The products represent one of the crown jewels of the high-tech industry. They have extremely low tolerances in quality deviations and all the solutions are customised for specific needs and context.

Vahterus is the industry leader that has been on a growth track since the 1990s. To accelerate growth in digital channels, Vahterus contacted Columbia Road to initiate a significant digital sales transformation program that would entail, for example, building new digital services for their highly specific needs in a very complex sales environment. 
 
From the get-go, we defined actionable targets and KPIs that have a direct impact on revenue:
  • Scale up complex industrial B2B sales: from excel and emails to automated digital sales
  • Streamline operations and increase sales efficiency 
  • Enable a high-performing sales organisation 
  • Build a platform that allows to scale up with further digital tools and services

Our approach

The entire digital transformation program was seen as a huge effort to overtake at once. To make sure Vahterus gets the benefits they were after and keep their existing processes running smoothly, we decided to slice the transformation program into pieces. We planned to change things one end-to-end vertical at a time so that we could create value in each of them. The first use case selected was a sales configurator and the adjoining proposal creation process.
 
We started with a technical feasibility study. By implementing a moderately budgeted technical proof-of-concept first, we mitigated the biggest implementation risks. It meant that in a complex and highly business-critical environment, we knew that we had a solution to every problem we could face. 
 
After finding a successful technical approach we created a roadmap prioritised according to business impact and designed a service concept based on several interviews with sales, IT, and R&D. The service mock-ups were iterated together with key stakeholders by using fast prototyping methods and tools.

Low coupling, high cohesion

The B2B sales tool (configurator) consists of five key configurators with complex thermodynamic calculations using a physics library – and several application-specific sanity checks. In addition, we were after providing more visibility for the proposal base and leveraging the intellectual capital within the sales organisation. Throughout, we had technology-related drivers, but always went back to the business need. 

To ensure a technical solution that would support business needs first, make scaling up easy and be sensible from IT’s perspective we decided on a custom-built technical solution.

The configurator is built with .NET Core, with a React front-end, and deployed in the Azure Cloud environment. The software architecture consists of loosely coupled microservices that can also be used by other digital services in the future. This architectural approach makes the solution scalable. Also, the configurator now integrates with several systems from file management to order review and engineering processes.

Interactive 3D model of Vahterus Plate & Shell Heat Exchanger


Impact

In concrete results, Vahterus is now equipped to offer its customers proposals faster within one efficient solution. The digital cloud-native sales configuration tool is the first step in Vahterus’ digital sales transformation program that helps the company achieve significant impact over time:
  • Operational efficiency: proposal throughput time and accuracy has improved; sales processes can now be integrated with material sourcing and production.
  • Collaborative sales work enabled: vastly improved ways of working and an enhanced operating model. 
  • Globally scalable sales tools: microservices and software development practices that scale with future digital services.
We continue to support Vahterus on their digital sales transformation journey.

About Vahterus

Established in 1990, Vahterus is a Finnish family business focused on sustainable heat exchanger solutions. Its Plate & Shell Heat Exchanger technology is utilised in various demanding processes in the oil and gas, chemical and process, energy, and refrigeration industries worldwide.

With headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Finland, Vahterus has subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, China and the US, and a global network of more than 50 distributors.

www.vahterus.com

Copyrights for photos in this case belong to Vahterus.


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