Like many industrial sectors, the paint industry is bogged down by manual systems, spreadsheets and thousands of emails every year.

Dealing with these restrictions amidst rising demand and a need to stay competitive, Duha Group, a Winnipeg, Man.-based manufacturer of colour paint samples, paint fan-decks and colour systems, knew it needed to transform its operations to become more efficient and keep customers up-to-date.

The company’s first move was partnering with Salesforce.com Inc. to migrate all of its sales processes that were originally handled manually, and within three weeks, celebrated the end of 17 spreadsheets.

“We celebrate those moments when we get past a manual process,” explains Duha COO Doug Crabb in his nomination form. “Now, if you have a question about something going on with an order, it actually goes on the order via Salesforce Chatter or in a Salesforce social group. Ultimately we’ve eliminated 125,000 emails a year, yet we significantly increased communication with our customers.”

Things “snowballed” from there, Crabb adds, with Duha integrating more processes to Salesforce, such as tracking orders, customer notifications and factory floor notifications.

For example, it used Salesforce’s Force.com platform to help streamline operations by using the mobile app development platform to build an object called Carters, which tracks an order from the point of sales until the time it’s shipped. Real-time order status is displayed in the manufacturing area so everyone knows the status and priorities, according to the company.

“Every department in the company has bought into Salesforce because we’ve been able to give each team what it needs. This has been the key digital transformation success factor for us: the ability to easily deliver functional and operational efficiency to our teams and get their buy-in,” Crabb says, while praising Salesforce’s ease of use.

“Even if we don’t have a programmer available, we know we can be completely responsive to our teams and get in there and make the changes we want to.”

The company is nominated for ITWC’s Digital Transformation Awards, being held June 14 in Toronto. Though nominations for this year are now closed, we’re covering every nominee that we’ve received in ITBusiness.ca ahead of the big event.

Duha didn’t have to drastically redesign or reinvent any part of its business, saying that its digital transformation spread in an “organic” way across the organization. The company’s leadership came together to focus on delivering “exceptional customer experience” in this new “Age of the Customer,” managing director Rick Duha says.

“Success breed success and once leadership felt the impact on both customers and employees of automating manual processes, they looked to see what else could be transformed with Salesforce,” Crabb continues. He has led the charge in fostering an open and transparent culture with the full support of leadership.

However, one of the biggest challenges Duha had to deal with was information being locked in silos throughout the organization. “Endless spreadsheets and emails” created delays in communication between the company and its customers, as well as internal employee to employee communications.

To combat this, Duha chose to implement Salesforce Chatter, an enterprise social network and collaboration software that connects every employee with files, data, and experts. The platform has allowed Duha to improve overall employee culture, fostering collaboration and transparency while also speeding up the rate at which questions from sales or customers get answered, from days to a matter of minutes.

“Now, if you have a question about something going on in this building, it goes on the order via Chatter or in a social group – there is almost no email operationally. Ninety per cent of my emails are just pings from Chatter – that’s the only thing I use in terms of managing operational issues,” he says.

The company also uses Chatter Groups to invite customers into private collaboration workspaces to share updates, provide approvals, and engage. The real-time virtual workspaces allow customers to get the answers they need without having to call anyone, which increases satisfaction and retention while also giving Duha a leg up on competition.

The benefits have been substantial and immediate, says Crabb. He points out that when Duha integrated its shipments into the Salesforce system, it began having “really good” sales forecasting, right down to the day and dollar. It also has the ability to track on-time metrics and respond to events in real-time so that Duha can be proactive rather than reactive.

“In addition, while sales have increased and manufacturing staff has grown to keep pace, the administrative headcount growth is far slower than our sales increases, which I think tells the story about the efficiencies we’ve gained,” he concludes.

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