The client was undergoing a product refresh, introducing new colours to their furniture range as well as new items.
The way that certain products were structured in their database meant that well over 100,000 records needed to be created or updated and linked together.
There were ways of updating the database via spreadshee upload, but these weren’t workable given the size and complexity of the task.
We designed a system which allowed the team to specify colours in one spreadsheet, and part combinations in another, then feed those into a tool which took care of creating/updating/linking all the parts correctly.
Because we built the system in a modular fashion, we were easily able to add buttons for a myriad individual functions (e.g. there was one button just for updating shelving components).
While this sounds like a bad case of feature creep, the rule we stuck to was simple:
- We took our hourly rate versus the cost of staff time, and used that for cost comparison.
- If a feature cost less money to build than it would save, we built it.
Because the developer was talking directly to the user, with no approval loops, development costs were low, and the cost/benefit calculations for these extra features were discussed in £10’s and £100’s, not £1000’s.
So even though the software had a one-off use, we were able to save the client months of work.
Intelligently automating this meant that we not only avoided a large number of errors, but also picked on on a numbder of discrepancies in the part numbering that would have caused issues.
Take home points:
- Automation can even save you money on one-off tasks. This example was a no-brainer for automation, but we have been able to do similar things on a smaller scale.