New online portal opens up additional customer groups
Ismaning, 22 September 2020 – For over 20 years, TMD Friction, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of friction materials, has been working with TecAlliance, one of the leading data specialists connecting the digital aftermarket. TMD Friction has repeatedly provided impulses for the further development of TecAlliance solutions, such as the online portal Entry Supply Web, which was launched in summer 2019. This portal allows spare parts suppliers in the independent automotive aftermarket to access the entire customer base of the Order Manager in an easy and cost-effective way. TMD Friction has been using the portal to optimise the order-to-invoice processes with its international factory branches.
From an individual requirement to an industry solution
In the course of the long-standing cooperation, many innovative ideas have been realised together, such as the cloud-based online portal Entry Supply Web, which TecAlliance launched in mid-2019. Sarah Schwarz, Global Business Process & Project Manager at TMD Friction, was looking for a way to optimise business relationships with TMD’s international plants.
“In recent years, we have had so many positive experiences with Order Manager with our trade customers while continuously optimising our order processing,” explains Sarah Schwarz. “But when we received an order and passed it on to our international supplier network, it was a completely different story. Our partners often do not have the necessary IT infrastructure to create transaction documents such as order or shipment confirmations electronically or to process data records of orders. Here we saw an important opportunity to shorten our time to market and make our processes more efficient,” says Sarah Schwarz.
The idea met with great interest from Bryan Marschall, Product Lead Order Manager at TecAlliance, as he had been planning for some time to implement a simple and fast connection to the Order Manager platform via WebEDI for smaller parts suppliers. In the agile organisational structure of TecAlliance, software developers, quality assurance, product owners, consultants and sales persons work hand in hand. “Thanks to our agile work style, our customers can participate directly and intensively in product development. No customer is like any another and each company has its specific requirements. Having said that, we do not want to develop individual solutions, but we always keep the needs of the international automotive aftermarket in mind. During development, we make sure that we offer standard solutions that are suitable for all market participants and add value to the entire sector,” explains Bryan Marschall.
Fast to the target with agile methods
Christian Drexler, Senior Technical Consultant Order Manager, took over the project and led the new product from idea to market. “In the beginning, we took up TMD Friction’s requirements and had them explain to us exactly where the difficulties in the existing process lie. We then compared them with our on-going considerations for developing an EDI-based online solution. And from there it actually took off pretty quickly. Throughout the entire process, from the initial discussions to the roll-out of the finished solution, we kept gathering feedback from TMD Friction, its partners and other customers and incorporating it into the development,” reports Drexler. The integration into TMD Friction’s SAP system was implemented successfully.
“Our experience during this joint development process has been very positive. The coordination was very efficient and the TecAlliance team quickly delivered good results,” says Schwarz. “It was important to us to repeatedly and consistently reconcile the interim results with our international partners. When the solution was introduced in June 2019, it was no longer new – they already knew that it totally met their and our requirements,” she adds.
TMD Friction is currently using Entry Supply Web with a partner who supplies the plants in Dubai and Moscow and the headquarters in Leverkusen. The initial experiences are very promising so that Schwarz comes to a positive interim conclusion: “We have really increased our efficiency because all manual steps from the receipt of an order to the completed delivery have been eliminated. Everything is faster and automated and all processes are running through our central SAP system. We have more time for our retail customers and can always offer them the best possible service. We are now in the process of scrutinising which other partners will use Entry Supply Web. We see great potential here, especially in countries outside Europe.”
Connecting with new international markets
Smaller and medium-sized parts suppliers can use the web-based Entry Supply Web solution to connect to the international B2B Order Manager platform in an easy and cost-effective manner. They can directly access a customer base of more than 35,000 wholesalers worldwide.
With Entry Supply Web, suppliers can receive and export stock orders from all trade customers connected to the platform. Integration into their IT systems and other implementation efforts are unnecessary. The standardised message formats for data transmission ensure seamless and smooth cooperation. The administration effort and the risk of errors during order entry are greatly reduced. For wholesalers, greater availability of goods and faster deliveries translate into more turnover and satisfied customers.