Achieving enterprise-class functionality with a small business budget.
Pragmatic Artists used the power of the cloud to create a highly scalable, customized and cost-effective solution that satisfied both long-term strategic and day-to-day operational objectives in record time.
Cerana Imports is one of the largest craft beer importers in Asia. Currently, all it’s customer information, sales funnel information, order and inventory data, and more is tracked using a custom-built application and excel sheets. Cerana imports more around 50 brands of beers and distributes these to about 500 outlets in four major cities. With additional venture funding, it planned to expand this to thousands of outlets in 10+ cities within 18 months.
The current setup would simply not work. They needed to increase operational efficiency manifold while they were in the midst of a massive scaling exercise. Further, Cerana also wanted the ability to monitor real-time consumption of tasks. For this purpose, they were starting to test flowmeters that would transmit flow data. However, the rest of the solution was not in place. How would they record this data reliably? How would they integrate with their entire sales staff? How would they do all this cost effectively? And in time to meet their investor’s and stakeholder’s goals?
In order to keep up with it’s growing business, Cerana needed to find a way to systematize and automate several aspects of it’s business.
- Increase revenue by allowing the sales force access to a wealth of customer data
- Track inventory levels across customers to serve them better
- Decrease costs by automating various sales and operational activities
- Allow salesforce to place orders for samples or materials on the move
And of course, achieve this enterprise-class functionality all within a small business budget.
In order to meet Cerana’s requirements, we first mapped out all the requirements from a 360 degree perspective.
- What are the business’ overall strategic goals?
- What are the current processes?
- What are the current pain points?
- What is the Cerana’s view for the future state?
- What functionality are must-haves? What are nice to haves? Why?
- Who are the various users of this system?
- How many of each type of user are there?
- And so on…
Once we understood the problems of the organization clearly, then we set out to map some possible solutions. Important questions we asked along the way are:
- How do we decomponse the functional components of the system?
- Which current technologies are suit the described use cases?
- What components do we buy and what do we need to build?
- What are possible system architectures for Cerana?
- What is the cost profile of each of these architectures?
- What are the pros and cons of each?
- And so on..
By following a step by step analysis of all the requiements against available technology options, we then came up with a fully thought through system architecture that would work for the business. We presented this options to Cerana along with fully transparent rationale for our recommendation of the envisioned future state.
OUR CLOUD SOLUTION
The great news was that, when combined together, there were multiple cloud-based platforms and products that could meet Cerana’s needs. But which combination would be the right one?
Keeping in mind our constraints of functionality, time, and cost, we were able to narrow down on a solution that could met Cerana’s needs using off the shelf cloud software with some custom integration components. What this meant was that Cerana got a lot of functionality that they didn’t think they needed (but later required) included out of the box. Futher, the platform we recommended was highly configurable so future business rules and requirements can be easily incorporated.
Pragmatic Artists got this setup running off the ground within 16 weeks with more than dozens of sales personnel target users managing millions of dollars worth of inventory and sales.
The final technology stack included the following components:
- Zoho CRM and Business Intelligence
- Zoho Creator to create custom Workflows for Sales and Automation tasks
- Amazon Web Services (EC2) setup to absorb data from flow meters
- Amazon PostgresSQL (Elastic DB) to store all consumption data from physical flow meters
- Custom connectors between Zoho and AWS to import and export data between systems
- Customized reporting running on AWS using Chart.io front-end
- Intercom.io for marketing automation tasks