From the biscuit idea to the customer:
An interview with Bahlsen about workflow management with PANFLOW
Ms. Lücke, Bahlsen decided in 2017 to tender for Panvision as a partner for the digital implementation of significant corporate workflows. What was the main reason for this decision?
We wanted to replace our existing workflow tool, since even minor changes to our IT service provider had to be commissioned and we could not change much independently. Due to our continuous improvement process, this has become increasingly necessary in recent years. The Panvision workflow management system provides transparency about which operations are still open and is very intuitive to use. This ultimately led to our decision and makes the work of our colleagues noticeably easier.
How did you realize that the time has come for a digital workflow management?
We have noticed that we could no longer optimally meet the increasingly special wishes of our customers and consumers with the workflow tool used to date. The digital workflow management with PANFLOW now helps us to meet these requirements.
Panvision already reported last year on the implementation of the first Bahlsen workflow with PANFLOW, the generation of new articles: From the "biscuit idea" to the finished product in the department store shelf, numerous process steps in the process chain were digitally imaged and optimized. For Panvision, this was a very special workflow, as many of our employees, in addition to their enthusiasm for software development, have pronounced competences in the consumption of sweet pastries and almost everyone associates with the Bahlsen products their own experiences, often even childhood memories. But enough of us: how did you experience the implementation phase of the first workflow as well as the workshops held together with Panvision?
We have a very positive memory of this phase. The project workshops were helpful and productive, and we were often able to jump into the implementation and see first results. But even apart from the on-site workshops, we often worked in conference calls or briefly discussed issues by e-mail and solved them together. Bahlsen has set up a versatile team for the workflow project - but the connection to Panvision has always been our project management. Through the 1:1 relationship between the responsible chief developer at Panvision and our project management, problems could be solved quickly and efficiently - sometimes after consultation with the team - resulting in a good and constructive working relationship.
After the successful introduction of the article workflow, have you added extensions or new, independent workflows?
By constantly optimizing the process and the wishes of our employees, we actually continue to develop our first workflow one and a half years after the start and will continue to do so in the coming months and years. We have deliberately opted for a workflow variant that enables this continuous development and, depending on the complexity, carry it out independently or with the help of Panvision.
At the beginning of 2019, another workflow was developed in collaboration with our project team and Panvision to manage our investment proposals.
The first workflows were still implemented in close cooperation with Panvision. When did the moment come when you decided to create your own workflows?
When selecting PANFLOW as the workflow management system, we aimed to develop workflows independently - depending on how complex the respective process is.
The first two workflows involved process development at Bahlsen and technical implementation at Panvision. In the middle of 2019, our first independently created workflow was launched. Both the process development and the technical implementation of Bahlsen were carried out here.
Even though we create simpler workflows ourselves, Panvision continues to support us with workflow management issues or issues that we cannot resolve with our know-how, and helps us to improve our skills. If a problem is too complex, we leave the task to the developers of Panvision.
Please, tell us something more about the first self-created workflow ...
Our first "own" workflow concerns the control of inactive article numbers, the counterpart of our first workflow for the introduction of new articles. As we are a global company, this affects several countries, multiple distributors, different packaging sizes and different recipes.
For example, to ensure that the leveling of raw materials and packaging materials works well, the responsible employees must quickly receive the necessary information. The new workflow supports us by sharing information about the time of discontinuation, the range of raw and packaging materials and the associated costs, thus ensuring smooth coordination between sales and production.
Now that you are in the midst of the topic and successfully create your own workflows - a quick look back at the first steps with PANFLOW: How quickly did you get familiar with the workflow management system and how were you supported in getting to know the software?
During the development of our first workflow, we simultaneously received an appropriate administrator training. But since PANFLOW offers many possibilities, you have to try things yourself. You learn to do it regularly - be it through testing and testing or through the help of Panvision.
One challenge is when - as in our case - a non-IT department develops or creates the workflow. For very complex processes or individual process steps, it may happen that certain parts require individual programming, which is usually not within the capabilities of a non-IT department. Then it needs the support of the developer from time to time.
What do you appreciate about PANFLOW and Panvision?
The support from Panvision does not end with the project completion. You can contact the respective contact person at any time and get feedback at short notice - often even a direct problem solution. It also gives you the feeling that you are talking to someone who not only masters the programming languages, but also asks the right questions and is already thinking ahead.
Thank you very much!
And what has changed in the end through the use of the workflow management system in your company or in the workflows?
The digital workflows have made our processes much more transparent! In addition, we can severely restrict the amount of paper traffic that goes into many places and save valuable resources.
We are very pleased to hear that PANFLOW and our team have - and can - contribute to the optimization of your business processes. Are there any future workflows planned?
Yes. We are currently working on our fourth workflow, which is still in its initial phase. Here, too, we mostly develop everything ourselves - with the support of a few telephone conferences in order to clarify questions together with Panvision or to discuss solutions.
Ms. Lücke, thank you very much for the interview!