Sharmans are a successful and growing industrial business who manufacture and distribute their own gutter lining product, Plygene. Plygene is sold directly to contractors, before being fitted to commercial properties. As a result of this niche business model, Sharmans have to handle numerous different points of contact in order to progress their ongoing projects.
The company was beginning to suffer growing pains, their disparate software systems failing to keep pace with the rising number of projects and properties in need of simultaneous management. Looking to shed these limitations and continue scaling up their enterprise without technological constraint, Sharmans sought out a digital transformation. Their aim was to acquire a system which would effectively manage all ongoing projects and contacts whilst catering to their unique business. As a result, they challenged Shoothill to develop a bespoke platform which would serve as a management hub for all their operations.
Managing Director at HD Sharmans
Rising to this challenge, Shoothill build a state-of-the-art CRM (Customer Resource Manager), hosted on the cloud using Azure, and fully customised to Sharmans specific requirements. A number of smart features were implemented, allowing the system to serve as a multifaceted project management portal, providing support to all team members. Several software tools were included, for purposes such as reporting, project tracking, communication, and efficiency through workflow automation. Cloud computing allows for multiple users across the company, with remote access, their permissions handled by an in-house admin.
Users are displayed an overview of all current projects, which can be sorted and searched based on a number of filters for quick retrieval of data. The functionality of this portal used cutting edge technology, written in C# and using the latest version of .NET Core, for high performance. Projects could be expanded to view their information, including selections from the other fields. These fields were properties, occupiers, contractors and specifiers, which could be entered into the system by a user within their associated tabs. The UI was designed to be fluid and easy to navigate, build in Typescript and React, with MobX.
Properties refers simply to the buildings to which the gutter lining is fitted. Their entries contained the building’s address as well as other information relevant to the installation, such as dimensions, structural details, lease agreements and so forth. They were also assigned an occupier. The occupier entries contained data on the companies who owned these commercial properties. Contact details such as the company name, headquarters location and point of contact information could be found here, as well as any other user-added notes.
Sharmans direct customers are the contractors who buy and install their product on the occupiers’ properties. Specifiers on the other hand are third party companies whose services are involved in the gutter lining installation; roles such as surveyors and architects. Both of these fields store contact details for their firms’ headquarters, user notes, and handle internal record management for training purposes. The contractors’ profiles also store details for their point of contact, whilst specifiers are assigned their service type from a drop-down menu, which is shown as a colour coded indication on their overview.
Users keep these fields up to date and can create projects with the correct entries allocated. Project profiles also record a reference name, completion date, various internal records regarding legal and best practise, and team members who can be attached through their user accounts. The financial information for each project is tracked and processed using a Sage API integration, returning a colour coded status indicator on its progress, so that project managers can monitor developments at a glance. Tasks can also be created within the projects and are automatically delegated to the correct user for completion.
The user landing screen lists outstanding tasks, personal and professional, with prompts to ensure team members stay within deadline and projects are kept on time.
Once completed, tasks can be checked off, and the project will be updated, keeping everyone in the loop. Tasks can be managed on a calendar, which was implemented through a Microsoft Office integration. Through this API solution, providing the task system and calendar, employee time management can be performed through the system, keeping workflow running efficiently.
Data manipulation on the platform is handled using SQL servers. With all the company’s project data stored in a carefully organised database, Microsoft Power BI can receive it through an API integration and processes it in order to provide a series of informative dashboards. These displays visually breakdown the data in a series of easily interpreted graphics and charts, based on the structure that the system stores it in. This ensures Power BI’s output is compatible with the unique way in which Sharman’s require their reporting to be completed.
After development, the final system proved very effective. We immediately saw the powerful impact it had upon the company’s operations. The solution quickly resolved their struggles concerning the management of their many projects and heavy workload, taking the weight off the team’s shoulders by providing an effortless means to achieve tedious and time-consuming tasks. This also removed the drag factor on their growth, providing room to scale up their business without encountering further setbacks.
The software also shored up their siloed system issue, replacing the inefficient knot of inadequate systems with a streamlined consolidated solution. Reporting company data correctly, previously a frustration, was made simple with bespoke tools. Besides ameliorating their existing issues, the software also provided further benefits. Communication, both external and internal, became easier with the dynamic progress tracking and CRM system. Fluent visibility is provided to senior management across projects, and employees are empowered to work more productively.
In summary we developed a smart system which was able to handle data to niche requirements, a Customer Resource Manager which structures information in a way which makes sense and uses third party integrations effectively and fluidly. With automated processes reducing workload, this full-service database and project management software effectively reengineered the Sharmans business with digital tools in a human-centric way to augment time management, customer service, efficiency and organisation.
As a result, Sharmans were thoroughly pleased with the solution we delivered. It has completely digitally transformed their business, to the point that they are now entirely running their enterprise through it. Not only fulfilling their requirement of a bespoke management hub, the system surpassed their expectations, proving an ideal digital workspace for their operations. We retain a great ongoing professional relationship with the company.
“We love working with Shoothill,” The Managing Director at Sharmans, Mark De Rozarieux, said, “They delivered the functionality we asked for and contributed with their own ideas throughout the project. They took on this bespoke project when we couldn’t find anything suitable off the shelf.” Shoothill will continue iteratively developing the software over coming years to adapt it’s potential with emerging technologies. We are proactively seeking opportunities with Sharmans for further collaborative innovation.
In conclusion, we at Shoothill were very proud to work on this challenge and deliver a quality end result. Our planning team were able to design software around this unique business structure, having to fully grasp their complex operations to deliver on the specification. Our development team rose to the occasion, building a system with fluid integration and workflow automation which performed flawlessly. We always enjoy working with businesses like Sharmans, enterprising and forward thinking.