Experience the journey telecommunications tech business Gigaset has taken with the Board Decision-Making Platform, leading up to the latest software release.
At a recent Board EMEA User Group meeting, @Dirk Lörwink, Applications Manager at Gigaset Communications GmbH, walked through the company's current digital transformation journey with Board, covering their experiences of upgrading Board 10 to the Board Spring 2021 release. This version of Board represents a milestone in the evolution of the decision-making technology, delivering increased performance and unmatched flexibility.
A major player in the European business and consumer telecommunications space, Gigaset is no stranger to Board. First adopting Board in 2009, the team at Gigaset focused on replacing a complicated and inflexible Business Intelligence (BI) and planning platform. Building on Board's drive to continually improve its platform – and recognizing a growing demand for a more user-friendly and sophisticated Integrated Business Planning (IBP) tool – Gigaset went on a journey, updating its Board solution to Board 9, then Board 10, and finally Board Spring 2021.
This blog lays out Gigaset's reasons for upgrading, details the journey through the various versions, with examples of the benefits reaped by Gigaset, and crucial advice and lessons learned from the digital transformation initiative.
User needs and technical advancements drove the upgrade decision
For many firms, the mere mention of a software upgrade unleashes a collective rise in anxiety levels. These concerns come despite knowing that new releases typically provide improved functionality, increased security, and other critical benefits. For Gigaset, following a long-standing relationship with Board – who operate with a bespoke approach to meet each customer's individual needs from both a technical and user standpoint – these fears were allayed.
Looking specifically at technical needs, the technology at Gigaset had to support an increasing prerequisite to facilitate remote working (i.e. in the wake of the pandemic and the impact it had on the evolution of workforce requirements and desires). Along with remote working came the need for a new web-based interface that is more responsive and intuitive in design to suit multiple devices (such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets).
On the plus side, global improvements in broadcast and network tech have seen the foundation for remote working better supported than before. On the other hand, these same technological improvements have decreased security across the legacy IBP platform at Gigaset; as the number of devices and locations trying to access the platform goes up, the level of security goes down. As well as this, more significant amounts of data to store necessitate boosts in platform performance. Finally, with an eye to the future, support for Board 10 will cease by the end of 2021.
Besides remote working needs, Gigaset also wants the overall user experience to evolve via Board. The positives delivered with the upgrade include:
- A modern look-and-feel to strengthen the perception of Board from the user's point-of-view
- A sleeker interface that encourages users to learn and leverage new features and functions
- New ways to enhance system functionality identified through users re-engaging with the platform
- Increased user skillsets following user training/retraining on the updated software
- Growth in user awareness of the management features in Board and overall support of the platform.
How the journey to Board Spring 2021 unfolded
Gigaset is a model customer for Board when applying several best practices to the upgrade journey. To start, six key "super" users were tasked with the initial testing period, freeing the 200-general users of Board to carry on day-to-day business as usual, irrespective of the project. Additionally, Gigaset rolled out a test environment before launching the platform properly (an essential step to help ensure a smooth go-live and mitigate many common issues with an untested or inadequately tested project).
During the upgrade period, a focus on timely and accurate data – and Board's ability to find, organize, leverage, and deliver structured and unstructured data – paid off. Following the cleanup of 11 databases at Gigaset, the team introduced new processes to:
- track high levels of data
- rework visual screens and dashboards (where required)
- initiate new methods of data loading.
Gigaset also leveraged the Board community to receive tips and guidance on new features from other adopters of Board Spring 2021. Extensive educational materials were prepared and rolled out for users to understand the change management required. This helps with several tasks, including learning how to establish new authentication methods.
Gigaset flicked the switch after introducing new general users and launched the new Board version in May 2021. Immediately, the fruits of a smooth upgrade were evident. The move from a Windows-screen interface to a Web GUI created a positive buzz among users who appreciated the new look-and-feel. Databases worked much faster too. Performance-wise, what took a 4-hour, overnight data load from the largest database now takes 45 minutes. Users are delighted by this supercharged data loading.
Notably, the customer managed the upgrade with minimal involvement from Board's product support team, a testament to both their self-sufficiency with the application and the flexible nature of Board, at its core, to make this possible.
Following the successful upgrade to Board Spring 2021, Gigaset shared some important lessons learned during the journey:
- Engage your key users: Rely on them to do the right thing and lead the way for the digital initiative.
- Establish a test environment: Ensure the architecture is set and tested to how you intend/need it to work for your business.
- Do not try to do everything simultaneously: For example, building a new front-end, cleaning up and uniting databases, and working authentication and security all at the same time.
- Plan tasks in a step-by-step process: Be sure to allocate sufficient testing time for each step.
- Understand the upgrade process: Research and investigate potential areas of concern.
- Use milestones throughout the upgrade process: Set markers to perform actions such as reviewing and cleaning screens, capsules, data, and so on.
- Leverage the Board support team: When technical hurdles arise, you can rely on the Board support team to quickly and professionally resolve issues.
In addition to the user benefits previously indicated, Gigaset gained a state-of-the-art, collaborative platform that delivers a single version of the truth to multiple decision-makers across the company.
Over 200 users now have an improved, more efficient competence center to deliver strategy and planning in weekly or monthly increments and execute budgeting and forecasting processes. Another plus is these users can rely on a single IT developer for occasional technical assistance.
Board Spring 2021 delivers full coverage for a host of processes. These include IBP, financial planning, performance management, demand planning, commercial and variant planning, materials and transportation management, and cost analysis. A true best-practice IBP approach involves HR, IT, R&D, Sourcing (procurement), Production, Distribution & Logistics, Sales and Marketing, and Finance & Administration – unifying all departments to work towards the critical business goals.
Gigaset has experienced what Pietro Ferrari, Chief Technology Officer at Board, predicted when he summarized the appeal of adopting Board Spring 2021 at the Board Day conference:
"Board representatives will be able to assist customers in preparing a transition plan, including an upgrade path to our latest version, the Board 2021 spring release. This major release includes new functionality and added capabilities, beginning with faster, improved performance – specifically in delivering faster data views, and large data flows. Users will be impressed by the faster response times and calculation-delivery. I'm proud of the team's efforts in testing the new release to ensure it is reliable and robust, including validation by some of our early adopter customers. It's proven and working in production settings now."
Board 2021 Release
With the Board 2021 release, businesses are elevating the best of Board 10 and Board 11 for supercharged performance and unmatched flexibility. Learn more about the milestone evolution of the Board Decision-Making Platform which is helping enterprises succeed in a constantly changing reality by driving greater planning agility and delivering more accurate insights.