eCementos: Portal for Customers and Sales Force

Leading the cement market involves rethinking the entire process, from order creation to shipping and the digital interfaces to manage them.

It’s 8 am and Federico takes his tablet to check on the status of his clients' orders and dispatches of cement and concrete before starting his daily route. This morning he is going to visit construction companies and distributors of building materials in the southern area of Greater Buenos Aires, where demand has grown in recent months, and therefore, delivery logistic requires careful attention. The web application of the customer portal shows an alert, indicating that a shipment for Hormigonera Castex –one of his main customers– is delayed at the Olavarria plant because the truck driver’s driving license has expired. Federico calls his client and asks them to send a new driver to avoid further delays, so that the truck can reach its destination on time, saving the customer's service center an urgent call.

For Cementos Avellaneda, one of Argentina’s main suppliers of cement and aggregates, whose plants produce nearly 3 million tons per year and ship over 14 thousand tons per day, being able to anticipate problems that delay customer orders is key, since logistics of the cement industry are complex. Achieving efficiency in the shipping process from the plants –where average wait times could traditionally be up to 8 hours– by coordinating its own trucks with customers’ trucks and those of subcontracted companies was key to smoothing the interaction between all players involved: customers, sales force, drivers, and the customers support center.

eCementos, the new web portal for customers of Cementos Avellaneda (Argentina) and Cementos Artigas (Uruguay) designed and developed by Giro54, integrates real-time data directly from SAP servers.

This allows construction companies and distributors of building materials to manage and access information about the status of their orders and shipments, their credit, payments and billing. The portal also provides the sales force with information on their performance related to their monthly goals and the clients’ purchases related to the production capacity of the plants, which greatly facilitate their work.

To understand the needs of those involved in the process, we conducted contextual interviews, we “shadowed” salespeople in their daily routes, we interviewed clients and analyzed their interaction with the available tools and reviewed the claims resolution processes with the customer service team.

These observations let us discover that salesmen used their tablets many times a day to perform intent-driven tasks, mostly from their car between client visits.

This means high data consumption in fragmented periods of time, much like Google’s micro-moments. Therefore, we focused on optimizing load times and shortening the paths to complete tasks. We placed special emphasis on improving readability in daylight, which was achieved by means of high contrast of the elements on screens and generous typography sizes. At the same time, layout spaces were optimized and menus were redefined for faster interactions and data input.

One of the main roadblocks to be solved in this project was to merge multiple players in the same digital platform, including a “non-digital” group, used to slow processes with paper forms and resistance to digital interfaces. The portal was conceived to improve the shipping from the plants, integrating data of the transport companies and informing about the validity of the documentation and insurance policies of trucks and drivers.

We worked with an agile methodology with sprints, integrating the UX team with the web portal developers and the SAP developers, who collaborated in a single project management platform through planning, task assignment, quality assurance (QA) and bug fixing. This way, the project progressed incrementally, allowing us to identify and solve problems quickly as they arose, which was key to launch the portal according to schedule.

The impact of the new portal was immediate. The new interface design managed to double the amount of information visible on screen, improving legibility thanks to a redesign of the navigation and search filters that maximize the space allocated to relevant content and data.

The use times of the app were significantly reduced for salesmen, who now have more efficient access to information and can make a global analysis of their clients portfolio with on-screen data visualizations that summarize sales, credit and product quotas. This process is done in just 3 steps and less than 10 seconds in total, compared to the 33 steps and almost two minutes it took to visualize the same information in the previous portal. The average time to create a new order was reduced by 35% and access to a client’s account report was reduced to half the clicks and 25% of the previous time (5 seconds).

At the same time, customers can now self-manage more tasks, which frees a great amount of time from the commercial team.

Giro54