Preparing customers for tomorrow. That is what Adfocom has been doing as a software supplier for 35 years. For 20 years now, they have been serving several large exporters in the floriculture industry. We talked to Consultant Tim Rengers and Sales Manager Jeroen Kersten about their company, Floriday's API link and API version management. Tim: "Working with version management is an absolute must for a properly functioning API."
Adfocom first came into contact with Floriday when they sat around the table with a customer. Now, a year later, they have launched the second version of the API link with five buyers who use Adfocom's ERP package.
Relieving the burden from A to Z
Adfocom has used Dynamics Business Central (formerly Navision), Microsoft's platform, for the Floriday API link. Jeroen: "We've developed a solution on this platform for the floriculture industry that can support the customer virtually from A to Z," From contact with the customer, creating purchase and sales price lists to financial accounting. This means taking responsibility for all the customer’s needs. And the nice thing about working with a major player like Microsoft is that they always work with the latest technologies. That saves us a lot of work; we need to program fewer basic functions and can develop something new on top of the latest technologies and standards more quickly. This allows us to focus purely on sector-specific programming."
Putting the customer first
"The customer and their needs are truly our main focus," says Tim. "When we ran the first version of the API, we were still not satisfied. So, we marked time and started a number of things again. This took us a long time. It was only with the second version that we actively encouraged customers to use it. The 2.0 version is now completely ready for use and the circle is complete. We can get all the suppliers, the trade items and the supply through this link. This enables us to compose an assortment for the customer. The entire purchase and processing can take place from the ERP package. It ends up as a purchase batch that goes to Floriday through the API. All we have to do is make a few additional adjustments when the customer wants them."
Extensive testing is of paramount importance to Adfocom. Tim: "I've created a trial account on both the buyer's and the grower's side to check whether the link is working properly. Using these trial accounts, I can see in practice whether functions are working properly, and this also enables me to explain it well. We like to make it easier for the customer. We want to come up with working methods that are similar to their own. For example, stickering: we keep two methods up and running so that customers can choose for themselves. This gives the customer more freedom to switch."
Jeroen: “As a software supplier, we have an advisory, and sometimes steering, role. However, it's the customer who ultimately determines how our software interfaces with the processes. We do think that links like the API are a must for them, because it has more possibilities. Our customers were willing to connect to the platform. It is up to us to look at their process, and to prepare and involve the buyer. This is also how we handle the implementation; we literally sit around the table with the customer. We show them the environment and immediately hear about how the customer works in practice, the customer’s concerns and which discussions are taking place there."
From VMP to API
Tim: “Now you can work via both VMP and API through our ERP package. If customers continue to ask for it, we'll continue to support it. However, as mentioned before, we do realise that the API has more possibilities. It’s a smarter and more modern system that can provide more relevant data. It will also be able to provide more sales opportunities online. Standardisation is an important factor in this. Then we can at least understand each other."
"It was also good that you introduced the purchasing dashboard. This introduces flexibility into the process. That’s essential to making the transition to the API link.
At the moment, the customer mainly wants to get a good grip on the Floriday supply, so that the assortment is also up to date. That's their focus now. Once they have familiarised themselves with that, we're going to look at how ordering from the grower via the API can be done in a constructive way. That will hopefully be possible this summer."
Together you are faster
However, more is needed than standardisation. Jeroen: “Clear and timely notification, clear rules and documentation from Floriday is a precondition in these types of change processes. Make it predictable. The fact that we now work with version management of the API is truly an improvement. However, you have to know in time what you have to take account of, what the rules are for growers and buyers and how exactly it works. That will help the process."
Tim: “Guidance is essential with these types of implementation processes. I notice that Floriday is willing to do that, and that the attention paid to buyers is growing. But to really succeed, you need to invest even more. Sit around the table more often and watch the buyer, how they work and what they encounter, as previously devised working methods are not always ideal for working online. And you only find that out in practice. For example, start a working group with buyers/growers, software suppliers and Floriday experts. Get together around the table and look at the process regularly, create mutual understanding and exchange knowledge. Buyers, growers and software suppliers can also tell Floriday something. Together, you can get off to a flying start."
We will soon be giving the floor to one of Adfocom's customers. How do they experience working with Floriday's API link?