The Triggre Academy: What to expect?

Triggre Academy

In our previous blogs, we discussed how the Triggre Academy came into being, what its goals are, and who would benefit from participating in the program. Today, we would like to tell you more about the curriculum itself: what can you expect from the training programs, and in which way are they structured?

Training program: from one task to fully-fledged application

The Triggre Academy consists of three levels. Whether you opt to become an Explorer, a Ranger, or a Guide, you will always need to complete the Explorer program first. During this training, you will learn how to work with Triggre step by step. Along the way, you will get plenty of explanation, and if you have any questions, we are always there to help. As you work through the program, you will see that every step results in a bigger challenge.

You will go from completing a single assignment to performing multiple tasks simultaneously. All your tasks are stored in a separate environment, so you can keep track of what you’ve done. Through this hands-on approach, you will seamlessly arrive at this program’s final assignment: the creation of your very own application from scratch. Once you’ve completed this successfully, you’ll be able to get your Explorer diploma.

What’s next? Well, if you’re craving to do even more with Triggre, you can enroll in the Ranger program, where you will learn how to work with interfaces and other, more complex applications. After that, it’s possible to become the ultimate Triggre expert: a Guide who is qualified to teach others how to use the platform and become Explorers and Rangers.

Unlocking your creativity through experience

Here’s the best part of the Academy’s step-by-step approach: it unlocks your creativity. Once you start performing small tasks, you will quickly see opportunities for improvement within your organization. Before long, you’ll come up with ideas to automate your own processes, thus making your work more efficient and fun.

After all, many people think that the tedious manual tasks are simply part of the job, while this is often untrue. Triggre helps you see how IT can alleviate this type of workload. Not because someone shows it to you, but because you’re experiencing it yourself! Interested in the Triggre Academy? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Adopting Triggre – Phase 3

Adopting Triggre

When our customers start using Triggre, we usually observe several phases that they go through. In our last two blogs, we described how growing insights and innovativeness led our customer NCR to build three applications to take the hassle out of certain processes.

In this last blog of the series, we’d like to discuss the third phase, in which NCR, now instilled with evolved skills, developed a more complex application: the inbound routing guide.

Mapping out the process independently

Suppliers are allowed to send packages – which, for example, contain ordered parts – to NCR’s distribution center at the expense of NCR. In the past, courier services were used for heavy shipments, but that didn’t turn out to be an economical way of working.

To control cost, it’s often useful to combine several packages and send them at once, even if this means a package will arrive one day later – it doesn’t make a difference to the process.

As NCR had successfully automated three processes using Triggre, it wondered if it could build an application for this shipping process, too. An important condition was to keep it as simple as possible for suppliers.

Now that NCR had gained the necessary experience, it mapped out and reorganized the entire process independently. Whereas during the first phase they asked Triggre to provide insight into the process, this time around, they only requested that we built the application.

Building the application was very complex – especially because several forms of transportation (air, sea, and road) were involved, each of which incurs different costs, but it worked.

Profitable with positive ‘side effects’

Within two months, the costs of investment were recovered. The application has saved NCR a lot in terms of expenses at a global level. Moreover, the process was designed in such a way that it had very positive unintended ‘side effects.’

For example, the company gained insight into the number of packages that were sent separately. This was important information, as NCR had previously instructed its suppliers to combine several packages into one shipment.

When using the inbound routing guide, they discovered that few of them actually did this. However, the application provides such clarity and ease of use that suppliers are currently following through on it.

NCR already has plans to expand the application to other logistic centers, which will only require small adaptations. It is yet another example of the power of Triggre: once you unleash its possibilities, the sky is the limit!

Adopting Triggre – Phase 2

Adopting Triggre

When the Triggre ball starts rolling, efficiency and insight increase rapidly. In this blog series, you can read more about the line along which our customers often develop their process automation thinking and skills.

Last time, we told you about the application our customer NCR built when it first started using Triggre. Today, we’d like to share their next step: building solutions for simple yet hassle-inducing processes.

Asset management: from confusion to overview

With the first application up and running, NCR decided to have a close look at its other processes to determine which of these could benefit from automation, too. Asset management came first. To whom are laptops given? What is the price of a laptop? How many devices are currently broken?

Of course, there were lists available, but these were complex and often confusing. Therefore, NCR’s first step was to simplify the process. Everything was brought down to one goal: to maintain a topical overview of all distributed and returned laptops.

The second step was quick and simple: NCR built the application and went live with it independently.

Harmonized codes: tool for suppliers

Shortly after automating asset management, a third application followed to better deal with harmonized codes. These are part of an internationally standardized system consisting of names and numbers to classify traded products.

Certain codes require companies to pay customs duties. To deliver products, NCR’s suppliers must have these codes. If they don’t, it is necessary to apply for them first.

NCR used to handle the entire process in a rather time-consuming way: after receiving a request, an employee had to look up if a code already existed. If it didn’t, they had to apply for one. Usually, such requests were not handled right away, which often resulted in considerable delays.

Automating the process seemed to be a logical decision. Therefore, NCR built an application that suppliers can use independently: they look up if codes are available, and if not, they can immediately apply for them through the tool. NCR’s employees no longer need to interfere. They have more time to work on other tasks!

Growing insights trigger more automation

The best part of NCR’s application building journey is that the organization has gradually discovered all the possibilities that Triggre offers. After creating its first tool, the outbound routing guide, NCR saw how easily and quickly they could automate dragging processes.

This insight led to the second and third applications we discussed today – but also to a fourth one, which we will discuss in the final blog of this series!

Adopting Triggre – Phase 1

Adopting Triggre

When working with customers, we often observe a certain evolution: a line along which they develop their ‘process automation thinking’ and skills.

First, they get acquainted with the possibilities that Triggre offers to their organization. Then, they start coming up with solutions for small, simple processes which cause a great hassle. Finally, they tackle major processes, which they can elaborate independently to a high degree.

Today’s blog is the first in a series in which we’d like to illustrate this, explaining the initiatives and progress of our customer NCR.

Improving the logistics center outbound process

NCR needed to solve an issue that employees regularly encountered in the logistics center. The fact that different countries set different rules that packages should meet, posed the necessary problems. Moreover, when a shipment’s worth exceeds a certain amount, a letter of credit is required, which results in delays.

Therefore, it is often better to split a 20,000-dollar shipment into two 10,000-dollar shipments, for example, as the latter are handled faster when going through customs. But manually weighing pallets after they’ve been filled is not very efficient. Naturally, it is better to have insight into such matters earlier in the process.

All this information was ‘stored’ in employees’ minds, but NCR figured it should be visible to everyone involved. Also, it wanted to handle the issue in a more structured way. There was an Access-based application, but it couldn’t be adjusted and it was very slow. Therefore, it was in urgent need of replacement. The solution? Triggre.

From process examination to application

As NCR just started working with Triggre, it requested our help in creating an outbound routing guide.

First, we had a close look at the process from a business perspective. Not all steps were efficient or logical, so we recommended making some process improvements. After that, we created the application together. NCR asked us to finish it, as it couldn’t make time to do it in the short term.

One step forward, more to follow

Now, the application is up and running, and it has brought the expected results. The process is clearer to employees, and it’s the same for everyone. This makes it easier to show others the ropes and train them. Also, the flow has improved significantly, as there are less exceptions in the process.

All in all, the outbound routing guide was a great introduction to the possibilities that Triggre has to offer. And as it turned out, it was only the first in a range of innovative process automation steps for NCR. In our next blog, we’ll tell you about their other initiatives!

Automate your business #4 – What’s next?

Once you have decided which processes you’d like to automate, it is time to build your application. There are several ways to do this: you can deliver it all at once or break down the process into short time intervals, completing small steps every two or three weeks. No matter which route is right for you, at some point you will be ready to launch the first version.

In this blog, we’ll tell you how to go about it – and we’ll explain what’s next.

Going live: from first version to perfection

It is recommended that you launch the first version for a small number of preferred customers or suppliers who are thoroughly familiar with your company culture. By processing their feedback, you will eliminate major hurdles and inconveniences.

After doing so, you can make the application available to a larger group of users that continues to grow over time. Such a ‘phased launch’ is always preferred, as it avoids peak loads (which may occur when you receive all user feedback at once) and allows your organization to gradually switch to a new way of working.

Next steps: one idea leads to another

You are likely to notice potential connections to other systems during the development and launching process. Of course, you can try to incorporate these immediately, but often, it is wise to ensure that the application runs properly first.

Once it does, employees – even those who were initially skeptical about automation – will actually experience the benefits. For example, your application probably speeds up efficiency and eliminates the need for completing tedious manual tasks.

As a result, they will be on board with it. They might even come up with some fresh ideas for your next automation steps. And in this stage, it is easier to start new initiatives or make adjustments to your existing application, which is now running smoothly.

In conclusion, we’d like to repeat what we’ve said throughout this blog series: start small, so you’re able to show tangible results quickly. When selecting a process that will benefit from automation, opt for a department that adopts a welcoming attitude towards it.The rest of the organization will follow once you can show them the advantages of your application in practice!

Automate your business #3 – Make a good start

Now that you’ve discovered your own processes and have a clear idea of processes that can benefit from automation, it is time to roll up your sleeves and get something tangible off the ground. In other words, it is time to automate your business. Answer these four questions and you’re off into the right direction.

1. Can you sketch an overall picture of your processes?

Many people don’t know much about company processes that extend beyond their own department. However, it is paramount to familiarize yourself with processes at the overarching organizational level. Only then, you will know who should do what at which time in a process.

Once you’ve acquired this information, you need to focus on the so-called happy flow: What do things look like when everything is going the way it should? Don’t focus on incidents that hardly ever occur. The effort and money spent on automating these incidents can cost you more than it saves.

Users are often happy with less and simpler options if it results in easier use of the system. Ask your stakeholders the question ‘how often does this occur’ and ‘how much time does it cost you to solve this by hand’, to really estimate the value of automating the step.

2. Why do people perform certain actions (and should you rethink these)?

If a process is carried out in a certain way ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it,’ you might be holding on to an inefficient flow of actions. Try to track down and rethink such processes early on, because translating analogue or ineffective processes to digital versions is often a waste of time and money.

Sometimes, it is wise to eliminate certain steps or reverse the order in which things are done. A question like ‘Wouldn’t it be more efficient to do this much earlier in the process’ can be very helpful in optimizing the process. Be flexible in this regard, so you can truly benefit from automation.

3. What are your acceptance criteria?

What should the outcome of a process look like? As with the first question, it is important to leave out any details and focus on the big picture. Define a broad yet crisp-and-clear answer to this question to ensure that everyone involved understands the ultimate goal.

Of course, to achieve this, several smaller goals can be defined, for instance for each of the stakeholders.

4. Can you create a simple design to test it with stakeholders?

To explain your plan to all the stakeholders, break down your process into five to six steps (at most) and summarize it on a single page.  At this point, however, you don’t know what your application will look like, so make simple, tangible sketches to add further details to the steps.

This will allow stakeholders and/or key users to visualize the process and ask for any clarifications right away. For example, ask why a form field or button is at a certain place or stage in the application blue print. Not only is this a great way to test the waters with them, you also involve them from the very start, ensuring that they’re on board.

Automate your business #2 – Benefit from automation

Last time, we wrote that discovering processes is an essential first step if you want to embrace automation. Once you’ve gone through the three-step plan that we described, you’re ready to answer the next question: Which processes will benefit from automation?

In this blog, we have listed five processes that commonly require automation!

1. Repetitive tasks

Every company has to deal with tasks that are repetitive in nature. For example, you probably have an on boarding process in place for new employees. This might encompass a variety of actions, such as setting up a new email account, creating a personnel file, and providing a new employee with company regulations.

If you create an application that takes care of, or reminds people of all these steps, including a check-mark list for must-do tasks, you will work more efficiently and save a tremendous amount of time.

2. Increased insight for customers and suppliers

Whether you’d like to increase the efficiency of your customer ordering process or your contact with suppliers, automation provides the answer. You can build virtually everything: from a web portal which always shows customers the current status of their shipment to an application providing suppliers with all parcel requirements (including codes and dimensions), which smoothly leads them through the shipment process.

3. Manual data entry work

Optimizing your customer service is always a good idea. If customers email you certain information, it is very inefficient and time consuming to manually enter it into your own system. It would make much more sense to provide customers with login data so they can register their questions, remarks, or complaints in a system, which allows you to respond faster.

Another benefit of this method, is that you automatically have a log of old items and it’s exchangeable between employees.

4. Focusing on people’s interests

Your employees are more likely to cooperate on automation projects if their own interests are involved. So try to find processes that would probably concern them, such as the submission of receipts for work-related expenses.

If you tell them to upload all receipts to your system by the end of the month so you can process these more easily and pay them sooner, it is a win-win situation: they will get paid on time and your accounting department saves time.

5. Deadline-sensitive processes

Wherever deadlines must be met, automation comes in handy. Suppose your quoting process involves multiple people who need to approve a variety of things, from price to delivery time.

As you don’t want to keep the customer waiting for a quote, you can make an application that sets approval deadlines and sends automatic reminders. This makes it much easier to meet your customer’s expectations!

Automate your business #1 – Discovering processes

Automation: you’ve heard all about it, and as a twenty-first century company, you want to embrace it. But where to start? In this blog series, we will guide you through the process step by step. First things first: you need to discover the processes in your organization. We’ve put together a three-step to-do list for you!

1. Organize a knowledge exchange meeting with key users

It’s important to sit down and ask yourself what you truly want to achieve with automation. Many decision-makers struggle with this question, because they are not the ones who encounter process-related issues on the work floor.

Therefore, you should organize a knowledge exchange meeting with key users on a regular basis – for example, every four to six weeks. These key users are employees who have been with the company for a while and who thoroughly understand the workings of the organization.

Not only will this allow you to obtain the required information on processes; it will also show employees how automation will help them improve their own processes and prevent problems elsewhere in the organization.

Another plus is that employees will not feel overlooked, which makes it easier to create support for change within the company.

2. Keep a list with points for improvement

There are always tedious or repetitive manual tasks that employees wish a computer could do. Additionally, a new product or service may require the implementation of a brand-new process. List all the points for improvement you can find and set completion deadlines for them, so you can move on to step 3.

3. Prioritize based on several factors

Now that you’ve mapped out all processes that will benefit from automation, you need to prioritize some and postpone others. When determining the value of automation, consider two factors: urgency and difficulty. If automating a process would save you a tremendous amount of time, do it.

However, you should always give precedence to an easy-to-automate process. If changing it is simple and saves a little time, give priority to it over a highly time-saving, but very time-consuming process.

Keep in mind that you are trying to improve customer and/or employee satisfaction. If you can show people the pros of change instantly and approach this change step by step, they will adopt a more welcoming attitude towards it.

Want to step up your game? Listen to fresh voices!

Of course, you need to listen carefully to seasoned employees who know your organization from the inside out. However, you should also take fresh voices into account. New employees often provide a unique look at your processes. They are not stuck in old habits and may spot things that no one else has thought about. Acknowledge their value by allowing them to share their perspective.

Wondering about the next step? We will tell you all about it in part 2!

Customer case: NCR and Triggre’s fruitful collaboration

Joining forces with a third party to create software can be frightening. After all, you’re no longer in control, and someone else is constantly looking over your shoulders, telling you what to do. Triggre, however, believes in empowering customers, allowing them to create their own software hassle-free while guiding them in the process. In this blog, we’d like to focus on one of our many successful collaborations – namely, with NCR, a company that ships goods to virtually every corner of the world.

Outbound Routing Guide

In cooperation with Triggre, NCR developed the Outbound Routing Guide, a system that specifies the dimensions, weight, and cost of each box, as well as the day on which it will be shipped. The system takes elements such as priority, cost, and destination into account to determine what transportation route is most efficient and which carrier will be used.

Towards an up-to-date, viable application

One of NCR’s bottlenecks was their Access application that no longer complied with current standards – mainly due to updating issues. Furthermore, the company stored information in different places, which made it difficult to quickly retrieve data.

NCR is now dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on an extension of the application. It will soon enter the testing phase, allowing NCR to experience the benefits of automation, such as data being stored in one place as well as making information that is currently only stored in people’s minds, generally available.

Combining two fields of expertise: the key to success

An expert in logistics processes, NCR would normally have to spend days explaining their expertise to a third party. With Triggre, they can create in-depth software components independently, saving both time and money. This hands-on approach also triggers a more innovative way of thinking. For example, NCR recently created a tool for their asset management activities. Before they got started, they only consulted with a Triggre Guide on its feasibility! And an idea for yet another application was recently pitched to the management.

In NCR’s words…

Triggre gives us the ability to experiment with new insights so we can continuously improve our supply chain processes.

Meet Triggre’s guides: “Software creation presents a world of possibilities”

Bringing IT closer to people, eliminating the programmer from the equation: it’s the main task of Triggre’s guides. Today, our guide Eddie Heijblom explains how he helps customers create and realize their own ideas. “It’s not just about creating an application; it’s about the ways in which you implement it, use it, and make it work for your business processes,” Eddie says. “My role is to assist people in making the best decisions in this regard. And I’m very passionate about helping them succeed!”

A contagious can-do attitude

Triggre is a young, dynamic company, and its can-do attitude often affects customers in a positive way. “The pleasant and fun atmosphere is contagious,” says Eddie. “We are all passionate about what we do, and we don’t like the word ‘no.’”

Triggre’s can-do attitude does not reflect the traditional IT approach that is marked by hurdles, issues, and lengthy projects. “We believe it’s important to handle things in a more creative manner. In our experience, customers start seeing all kinds of opportunities once you adopt an innovative attitude, focusing on getting things done. Being able to create software is a big part of that equation. Your creativity isn’t killed by consultants who tell you it’s not possible. From now on, you can try it yourself and discover more possibilities than you had initially imagined. Once people realize that they actually can create what they have in mind without too much hassle, they are pleasantly surprised.”

Nourishing customers’ creativity

Initially, many of Triggre’s customers are frustrated about going through IT-related projects. “Seeing that software creation doesn’t have to be difficult is usually a weight off their shoulders,” explains Eddie. To him, opening their eyes to a world of possibilities is a wonderful challenge: “I nourish their creativity and help them realize their ideas. In doing so, I always emphasize that almost everything is possible. And once they see that the sky is the limit, the creative juices don’t stop flowing. I’ve helped them open a door they always believed was closed, and it encourages them to open other doors to innovation. That’s what I love about my job!”