The creation and implementation of dedicated IT solutions for business is one of the main focuses of our company. In today’s interview with Jakub Imosa, President of the Management Board, Tomasz Brodziak, Vice-President of the Management Board for Sales, and Bożena Wołoszyn, Director of the Implementation Department, we talk about the implementations we have made over the years, how we work and how we became an international software company.
How did Kotrak’s adventure with IT system implementations begin?
Tomasz Brodziak: When I started working with Kotrak, the company mainly sold fiscal equipment and implemented Comarch systems. At the time, there was one programmer on board. I started permanent cooperation with the company in 2008. It was during this period that the breakthrough and the idea of creating dedicated applications appeared. You could say that Kotrak’s transformation took place between 2005 and 2008.
While working on a programme for De Heus Nutrition, another programmer was hired. After 2008, the systems team began to expand and grow rapidly.
What are the characteristics of the software developed for De Heus?
T.B.: The first dedicated implementation we did for this company was a mobile feed sales application. We continue to work with De Heus Nutrition to this day. Along with the business needs of the contractor, we have created new systems.
We developed an application for collecting information from customers – the CRM system. Subsequent products were more and more developed. For example, we designed applications for production management, which are constantly being modified and developed.
This was followed by a whole suite of programmes supporting production and the organisation of factory work in communication with the company’s headquarters: a href=”https://kotrak.com/en/offer/food-manufacturing-software/”>Food Manufacturing Software. It is worth mentioning that most of the software for this contractor has an interface in English.
DHApps, the De Heus Nutrition bespoke application, today supports the following areas:
- trading and sales,
- Business Intelligence,
- finance and accounting,
- fixed assets,
The customer is satisfied with our cooperation. We continuously develop dedicated products, create new modules, respond to his new needs and provide maintenance services.
(Find out more about DH Apps, a comprehensive solution for an international manufacturing company)
How did subsequent implementations arrive and what was the customer acquisition like?
T.B.: Creating the solutions I mentioned opened up the possibility for us to seek out business customers interested in dedicated software. We no longer had to rely solely on off-the-shelf external products.
We started to develop stand-alone systems, integrated with ERP applications from various manufacturers. We work for companies from all over the world in a wide range of industries, sizes and reach. We implement mobile, desktop and web applications such as: B2B E-commerce Platform, Warehouse Management Software, Manufacturing Execution Software or Chemical Manufacturing Software.
How is our range of IT solutions developing?
T.B: We operate according to market needs and current trends. At the moment, mobile and web solutions predominate and we implement these most frequently.
We have set our sights on developing applications for manufacturing companies. An important element for us is the integration of systems with machines. This was the next stage in our implementations.
There were also orders from companies that needed the support of an advanced programming team with experience. Here, it is worth mentioning companies such as Mowi, for whom we created, among other things, an interface to optimise the reception processes in production.
(Read more about comprehensive system for the food producer)
What is the implementation process for dedicated applications?
Bożena Wołoszyn: The implementation procedure and the methods we used have been transformed over the years. The first major ERP implementation took place over 16 years ago. A lot has changed since then.
Over time, the need for an implementation methodology arose. We now use a variety of solutions, which we tailor to the needs of the contractors and the type of application. There was a growing commitment on the contractor side. Customers were becoming more aware, so to meet the challenges, we started a series of training courses in-house, which broadened our competence in system implementations.
The methodologies we currently use most often are Prince and PMI. We have also developed ways of working that we adapt to the type of project. The standardisation of activities and procedures has improved the work of the implementation team, which has grown with the increasing number of assignments. For us, the selection of tools for the implementation process is a key issue for the correct course of work and depends on whether we are implementing a dedicated application or an off-the-shelf system.
International projects have taught us the importance of an individual approach to clients. Here, we have to pay special attention to the structure of the companies in the country in question, applicable laws, tax issues, specific business processes and local factors. We have carried out system implementations in 16 countries, which has allowed us to develop certain patterns for our work.
Correct project organisation and communication with the client enable us to operate effectively. For larger assignments, we use additional bug tracking and project management tools such as JIRA for ongoing contact. This enables us to respond immediately to requests and organise our work efficiently.
For smaller projects, we hold periodic meetings with the client to summarise the activities and present the stage of implementation we are at.
Kotrak also provides technical assistance – what does this consist of?
T.B.: We are committed to ensuring that customers are satisfied with both our systems and post-implementation support, which is why we have been providing assistance services since 2008. The specialists in this department are familiar with our software. They are often involved in their implementation, which means they are familiar with the projects and therefore have a complete overview. This way of working allows us to provide a high level of service.
What also sets us apart is that we have a stationary service team. This is about 15 people who have been assigned to specific topics, for instance, ERP system repairs. They are available to the customer at a time that is convenient for them and only deal with the fulfilment of requests. In this way, we ensure a fast response to the needs of contractors.
B.W.: We provide service around the clock. The need for this type of operation arose when we were servicing customers from countries in different time zones. De Heus factories are located all over the world, so we have adapted to this situation and are available around the clock. This, of course, required a change in the working mode in the service department. We have introduced a shift system and on-call duties, which works well and allows us to provide a high-quality service.
What overseas implementations have Kotrak specialists carried out?
T.B.:After developing an application for De Heus in Poland, we were asked if we could take the solution to South Africa – this was our first overseas implementation. Subsequently, the contractor decided to implement the system in Vietnam, Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Ethiopia, Ukraine, Ghana, Brazil, Bangladesh and many other countries.
As far as Mowi is concerned, we initially developed software for them for the Polish market, then started providing support services for their other European locations and implemented IT solutions in Norway and Sweden.
We also implemented IT solutions for other clients in various countries such as the United Kingdom.
Map of IT system implementations:
What do the pre-implementation analysis and conversation with the client about the application look like?
Jakub Imosa.: Before carrying out a pre-implementation analysis, we select a team of people who have experience in developing products dedicated to a specific industry. If the client is from a new area, we select consultants who will be familiar with the project assumptions and industry characteristics.
The first consultation is about the basics of the project. We talk about the purpose of the app, how it should work and who the target audience will be. The information gathered allows us to choose the right team and tools. Next, we select the people responsible for the project on the client’s side.
We then establish the scope of the project with the client during an analytical interview. We discuss the assumptions and our consultants create a functional design. This allows us to determine the time needed to create the application and the costs necessary for the execution of the order, resulting from time-consuming programming or installation work.
In the next stage, we determine the technical requirements for the smooth operation of the application, as well as the number of programme users. The collected data allows us to design the software architecture and determine the required technical parameters.
How long does it take to develop a dedicated application for a client?
J.I.: The time to develop an application depends on its type (web, desktop, mobile), functionality, additional modules and required integrations. Developing a system for a business is time-consuming, as we continuously verify changes, fix bugs and modernise solutions. Writing software for a manufacturing company, for example, involves running detailed processes and defining many advanced functions.
An example would be a system for performing and analysing analytical tests, where we have to create all processes from scratch. We then design the architecture, database or application interface, which unfortunately takes time.
However, if the client wants a faster implementation, they may opt for a basic version of the system and refine it later. In this situation, we use the Minimum Valuable Product technique. This allows our clients to familiarise themselves with the delivered solution more quickly and then develop it later. Developing an application for the retail market in most cases takes less time. It can be programmed in just a few months.
Applications for which industries do Kotrak specialists create most often?
J.I.: We work for both B2B and B2C industries. We specialise in developing applications for manufacturing (like Kotrak Warehouse Management Software), trade, distribution and laboratories. We also have extensive experience in implementing systems for the agri-food industry both in Poland and abroad.
(Find out more about MES System for food production)
Remote deployments are an important issue in the current climate – what experience does Kotrak have in this area?
T.B.: Our specialists have been doing remote implementations for many years. We did another implementation in South Africa, which we discussed earlier, remotely and were very happy with the process and the result. We have also performed remote implementations in Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, Vietnam and the Netherlands. They taught us how to work with clients without the need for face-to-face meetings, which is a highly valued skill in the current global situation. Thanks to our overseas collaborations, we were prepared for the change associated with interviewing and implementing systems remotely.
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