PlaceMakers transform their future with Adaptiv
“From a thought leadership, tool setup and building perspective, Adaptiv, along with our group technology team, have been key in setting up foundations we could successfully build on.”
“We were very pleasantly surprised. Adaptiv very much shared our cultural values and were a perfect partner for us.”
PlaceMakers is Fletcher Building’s retail trading arm in New Zealand. The leading and largest supplier of building materials and hardware, PlaceMakers also manufactures frames, roof trusses and structural components at operations around the country.
PlaceMakers decided to move away from their heavy reliance on a single outsource provider in 2012, as part of their ongoing technology strategy.
PlaceMakers looked for partners with the technical expertise to support their business aspirations – especially in integration. More importantly, they wanted a partner who fitted into a culture based on collaboration, commitment, transparency, and accountability. On the recommendation of their newly appointed operations manager, PlaceMakers chose Adaptiv to work alongside Fletcher’s internal IT team as their integration partner.
It was a ‘natural fit’ from the start, says Mark Phillips, Fletcher Building Group’s GM of Technology for the Distribution and Concrete Divisions. “From the outset of our initial engagement,” says Phillips, “we were very pleasantly surprised. Adaptiv very much shared our cultural values and were a perfect partner for us.”
Adaptiv and PlaceMakers have worked together on hundreds of projects in the last eight years, from migrating the business from BizTalk to reviewing and recommending EDI strategies, to providing integration leadership and services for a significant digital transformation initiative.
Following a shift in business strategy in 2017, PlaceMakers decided to implement a digital programme to improve the quality of its customer service.
The programme launched in late 2019, and successfully transformed three major points of contact with PlaceMakers’ customers. As well as optimising in-store digital processes (such as mobile transaction systems) the digital programme introduced a transport management solution with end-to-end visibility for staff and customers, and created an online customer channel for purchases, queries, and order tracking.
The programme is so successful that, in a building industry first, PlaceMakers was one of just three finalists shortlisted for the prestigious CIO Summit 2020 award for Business Transformation through Digital and IT.
Phillips and Ritesh Patel, General Manager Digital and Transformation (NZ Distribution) at Fletcher Building, are justifiably proud of the programme and the hard-won CIO award nomination. “It’s been one of the most exciting and transformative projects we’ve worked on with Adaptiv. We’ve come a long way on a legacy ERP that was developed before APIs were even conceived,” says Phillips.
Fletcher Building Group’s technology team had a clear vision of the architecture they needed to build to support their new customer value propositions.
“Adaptiv played a key role in helping to shape the overall strategy, direction, planning and design of the integration components of that architecture,” says Phillips.
To support the transformation programme, PlaceMakers needed a new integration platform to leverage its 27-year-old Epicor ERP. Adaptiv put forward a successful business case for MuleSoft as the integration platform, with Solace as the event broker platform.
“Because of their years of working with Fletcher Building Group, Adaptiv understood our complex environment. They appreciated how our legacy ERP worked, and how to approach designing integrations to it – so we didn’t have to start from scratch. From a thought leadership, tool setup and building perspective, Adaptiv, along with our group technology team, have been key in setting up foundations we could successfully build on.”
Patel says that the building industry is one of the last to be digitalised. “The transition from ordering building supplies by phone to using a self-service app has been a significant one for our customers, but moving to a digital platform has been essential for us to stay in business and compete effectively.”
Despite the steep learning curve – for staff and customers alike – Patel says the programme is highly successful. “Over 25% of our managed accounts signed up for our digital products in six months. That’s 60% compared to budget. In just one month we reached the volume of transactions that we expected to achieve in 12. We’re now doing 20 times the volume load we predicted.”
Just based on staff time saved through automating previously manual processes, Patel worked out that, overall, the programme saves PlaceMakers more than 100 years of labour. “We regained the time and capacity for our people to shift from being just order takers to proactive salespeople. They can have real conversations with customers now, which allows them to add more value.”
PlaceMakers’ handle over 1.2 million phone orders a year through their branch call centres. The digital channel has significantly reduced the annual volume of calls.
The integration approach delivered value and accelerated speed to market, says Phillips. “The combination of partner technology and the overall architecture means we’re only building our integrations once, and using them in many parts of our solution. For example, we built the Trade Pricing integration once – but reused it for three or four more different products. That reduced the cost and time required to bring new features to market dramatically.
“We’re now releasing new features to market every two weeks, where previously it would’ve been every six months.”
Patel says the technologies used to support PlaceMakers’ digital strategy played a major part in its success. “I’m surprised we’ve been able to do all this given the legacy technologies that we have. However, that’s where MuleSoft comes into play. It allows you to successfully orchestrate these things.”
PlaceMakers’ digital programme is in year one of a three-year journey. And to ensure that their staff and customers are engaged and onboard, PlaceMakers put a comprehensive digital learning programme in place.
Phillips places a high value on teamwork, and Adaptiv proved their worth time and time again.
“On a day-to-day basis,’ says Phillips, “Adaptiv’s team have acted as the MuleSoft leads across the Digital integration teams, working with Group Technology in areas such as thought leadership and knowledge, through to building features.
“Adaptiv’s people have been amazing, as has been the company’s ability to work alongside our other key partners. That really talks to the culture of engagement, and how Adaptiv’s people fitted in extremely well with our business – and did from the outset.”
“The Adaptiv value-add, over and above just pure integration services has been their leadership in CI/CD (continuous integration, continuous development),” says Phillips, “Adaptiv helped us drive and mature our CI/CD and DevOps capability to support our digital transformation going forward.
“Adaptiv’s bedrock engagement style is based on professionalism and capability. And the fact that they are just good people. They just fit in. Adaptiv stands out for their technology leadership and ability to create genuine, measurable value using MuleSoft and Solace. They’re also not afraid to tell us constructively when we’re not doing something right. That’s the sign of a good partner, and we really value that.”
Adaptiv’s open and collaborative business style adds value to every interaction, according to Phillips.
“Adaptiv’s culture of engagement and professionalism, their deep knowledge, and willingness to offer advice and beyond, have been a hallmark of our relationship over the years. The trust and respect we have for Adaptiv is built on their legacy of outstanding delivery for PlaceMakers.”