Soapworks is the UK’s leading manufacturer of soaps and cleansing bars for body, hair and face. Its expert team creates innovative and sustainable products which deliver for private label customers, beauty brands and retailers worldwide.
Soapworks receives many quote requests from existing and potential customers each month. The quoting process is complex due to the many factors affecting a cost – including volume required, raw material and packaging specifications, labour and production processes.
For more complex quotes, input from various business areas is necessary e.g. account managers to pull together the customer concept, the technical department may need to advise on a new formulation, purchasing for a new packaging specification and manufacturing for a specific production process.
The existing process used a complex Excel sheet – duplicated for new quotes. The issue was over time this led to multiple versions of the sheet being used and delays as a quote was emailed from department to department to get their input. It was also possible for simple typos or copy/paste errors to corrupt Excel formulae and give erroneous results.
Also, quoting had become over-reliant on a few specific areas of the business. Although Soapworks has an ERP system to manage stock and ordering, it wasn’t flexible enough to capture the complexity of the quoting process.
The impact of all this was the quotation process had become admin-heavy and time-inefficient. Tracking a quote within the process became difficult as everything was done via email.
The project Horisk took on was to develop a more efficient quotation system which would allow a single platform for input to quotations while allowing a snapshot overview of where a quote was in the process.
Allowing ease of visibility on previous quotations provided to a customer was a must, along with duplication and update of previous quotes. Finally, it needed to allow for KPIs on the quote process to be measured.
Horisk quickly identified as key Objectives that the system needed to allow for a more collaborative approach to generating a quote - allowing all relevant departments to contribute independently without holding up the process. It also needed to make it easy to view and reuse existing quotes.
The challenges to doing so were to first identify all the potential factors which could affect different types of quotes and devise a data structure and system which was flexible enough to cater for each of these without becoming difficult to use.
We began the consultancy phase in late 2019 with on-site meetings including all the key stakeholders. This was used to define the project scope and gain a deeper understanding of the critical factors affecting each quote.
After this, development followed an Agile pattern of project management - with fortnightly sprints each focussing on a separate element of the system.
Regular meetings were also held with the project team to discuss individual aspects in more detail and demonstrate results from the previous sprint.
The system went live in March 2021. Since then, numerous enhancements have been made to add more workflow features, capture additional elements of a quote, and add further management reporting.
The final system provides:
This system demonstrates Horisk’s ability to analyse a complex process and specify and develop a comprehensive and robust solution which dramatically speeds-up the process and is easy to use for all staff in the business while providing essential management information.
“The costing system has completely changed the process of quotations within Soapworks,” says Sarah Byrne, Management Accountant at Soapworks. “It has enabled users to add value to each quote, has resulted in more accountability for each department and has given us a database of quotations to both reference and use for future quotes.
“It’s also improved accuracy and timeliness of quotes produced and, most importantly, has allowed for greater speed of response to customers.”
“I’m sure the increased efficiency in relation to responsiveness to customer quotation requests, although not wholly measurable, has had a positive effect,” adds Sarah. “Finance certainly now has more time to spend on areas of reporting which aid strategic decision-making within the business.”
“It was evident from initial conversations/meetings that Horisk understood precisely what was required for Soapworks. They quickly defined a project scope, and their technical expertise was evident from the start,” - Sarah Byrne, Management Accountant, Soapworks.
“I would recommend Horisk due to their professionalism and ability to deliver a software package that meets the specified requirements.
“They took a concept/idea from a non-software-minded person and delivered it. The costing system continues to evolve; ideas will be discussed with Horisk, and a solution/idea will be delivered.”
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