World’s largest manufacturer of CNC machines for metalworking
Time of development:
The Schwäbische Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH - a metalworking machine manufacturer - needed to develop an internal web application, which would make interaction between managers and storekeepers more convenient. For example, an employee needs to take office supplies, a laptop for presentation, or spare parts for a machine from the storage. Prior to this, the employee needed to come to the storage himself and fill a request order. When it was executed the employee got a notification on his email. It took a lot of time and in general the communication was inconvenient.
The developed web application was supposed to solve this problem. The employee just needs to choose the necessary positions and press the button - that’s how the request comes to the storekeepers. It’s like an online store. After execution of the request, the manager gets a real time notification. Then, he just needs to come and pick up the executed order. Besides, the employee always sees the stock balance, and if the required position is out of stock he doesn’t waste his time and chooses an equivalent in stock. We called this application SW Shop.
The client uses two main products for his internal processes:
- ERP system, where all stock balances are taken into account and request orders are formed;
- CRM system, where all notifications are made and employees can leave a detailed description of the request.
During the first meeting we found out that the aim was more global - to combine the work of both products and make the company's operations more automatic. And the developed SW Shop was a pilot project that was supposed to confirm that automation will be really useful for the company. For this moment Schwäbische Werkzeugmaschinen had already involved another team of developers, they started automation on the basis of Microsoft Biztalk.
Another important limitation was that it was too expensive to install an additional license for ERP system for every employee. Besides, ERP system did not work on mobile devices - and that was a problem for storekeepers as they were constantly on the go and were not sitting at their desks. The mobile version of SW Shop application would overcome these limitations.
As a result, we were required to:
- take the lead on the project and define client’s business requirements;
- establish communication between our developers and another team, that was working on Microsoft Biztalk Server;
- draw up detailed and clear documentation in order to make it more comfortable to maintain the application in future;
- set up CI/CD and unified system of code support;
- test the workability of desktop and mobile versions of the application, as well as connection to the external services - ERP and CRM systems via Biztalk;
- implement a work product that will be the starting point for future automation of all internal processes of the company.
The following roles were required to implement the pilot product:
- Frontend developer developed user interface in TypeScript using Angular framework;
- Backend developer was responsible for application features implementing code in C# and worked with MS SQL;
- DevOps engineer was responsible for code deployment on a server and worked on Biztalk;
- Project manager supervised the progress of the project and organized interaction with the client;
- Architect was in charge of technical aspects and supervised the interactions between all developers;
- QA-engineer tested the product according to technical and business requirements.
Right away we decide that we won’t create a separate mobile version in order to save the client's money. But we will implement Progressive web application technology - when the website will be automatically transformed into a mobile version. Thus, information about the request execution will be available almost immediately and the employee will know through a notice at CRM system that he can pick up the order.
In order to implement it we use the database on MS SQL - all stock positions from ERP system are uploaded firstly to an external base, and then appear as a catalog in the application. Additionally, the stock balance is available - the manager can see which position is in stock and doesn’t waste his time. This application interacts with ERP and CRM systems via Biztalk. That is why we set up all coupling and perform testing in close contact with another team of developers, and manage the whole project.
The application was successfully implemented after 6 months of work as it was initially planned by the client, although there were no strict deadlines. Now managers place orders quickly, storekeepers receive their requests on their mobile phones and are not confined to their office place, and the client hasn’t overpaid for additional ERP system licenses.