Why Time And Resource Scheduling Software For SMB Manufacturers

    Martin Karlowitsch
    April 10, 2016

    As you might know, our background for at least 25 years has been the development of software tools for other software developers. With our tools, we address a make-or-buy-need in the software development process, and enable our clients (who have software development skills) to rapidly build interactive Gantt charts within their applications. As such, we are specialists in developing software to visualize time- and resource-oriented planning data. This blog posts share with you some of the reasons why we - as developer of developer tools for on-premise applications - have decided to build a SaaS software application to deliver easy time and resource scheduling for SMB manufactures.

    Why #1: Similar need within homogeneous market segment

    Inspiration_M.jpgOver the past 2-3 years, we have experienced an increasing demand from SMB end customers, who have some common characteristics.

    • Manufacturing companies, typically with rather individualized products rather than mass production: make-to-order or job shops
    • No ERP system in place, maximum a very bare bone “order management” software
    • Production planning process based on XLS or whiteboard or printed sheets, and a lot of shop-floor communication (“we have this guy running around from machine to machine and always speaking with two phones simultaneously”)
    • Need to visualize the production schedule and to understand the dependencies
    • Main driver for searching a visual production scheduling software is not that much an optimized utilization of capacity, but rather the management of delivery times and delivery time commitments (what happens to order A, if I squeeze in order B?; I have a new inquiry, what delivery time can I commit to the customer based on the current schedule?, etc.)
    • Want to control the schedule, rather than being controlled by an automated schedule based on super sophisticated algorithm

    The interesting observation was, that customers matching the above pattern did find us as provider of Gantt chart development tools. Also, it was not customers from just one country, but we faced a kind of global demand. So: if you get found although you do not offer a ready-to-use application, but "only" a tool for software developers, how will this change if we would be able to provide some out-of-the-box visual planning functionality to enable easy time and resource scheduling?

    Why #2: Product as better fit than a solution

    Initially, we tried serving the above demand by developing tailor-made scheduling applications. This worked quite well - but in most of the cases more for the more midsized to large of the SMBs. Typically, these clients also had an enterprise-class ERP system in place. 

    As great as this individual solution development was and as happily as we will continue this type of project business for the larger SMBs, it did not resonate with the many smaller SMB make-to-order or job shop companies. The reason is obvious: Tailor-made applications are like tailor-made suites: they fit perfectly, but they are rather costly.

    Hence, we decided to consolidate the experiences we have gained through many customer prototype and project developments in order to do what we can do best based on our long-term experience of developing interactive Gantt chart software:

    • Build a general product for many potential clients rather than a solution for one
    • Make the interactive Gantt chart the heart of new product
    • Design the product to be ready to serve global customers
    • Focus on small make-to-order and job shop SMBs

    Why #3: Built from scratch, based on experience

    When dealing with many job shop or small make-to-order clients in the past 24 months, we had to learn that our conventional value prop is not a good fit for them: although they all were heavily needing some production schedule visualization techniques, they did not have the capabilities to work with a sophisticated software development tool. Hence, we needed to change our offering - from a tool to a ready-to-use production scheduling software application.

    Also, many of the companies we dealt with had no own IT departments. Hence, for us it was obvious to build our new product as a SaaS (Software as a Service) application, which customers can access via a browser anytime and anywhere. Even more important, we started with the aim that customers can use the software "as is" - without lengthy customization and without the need to attend complex training sessions. 

    In order to achieve this, we used our 30+ years of experience to build this product completely from scratch applying latest technology and latest development methodologies.

    Where we are now, and what to do next

    We now have reached a stage which we call “private beta”. This means, the product is not fully finished and not yet available for the “mass market”. However, the product has reached a certain level that we open it up for early customers … also with the idea of getting feedback from an intense dialogue and making sure we will launch a product that fully fits the needs of our “target market”.


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