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Case Trade Connectors

More structure, please – or how to keep growing without losing the North

It’s a common story: the business grows, and the processes can’t keep up the pace. At some point, you must do what Trade Connectors did – bring in some structure to ensure efficiency and enable future growth.

Trade Connectors FMBA is on its way to become a market leader in GS1 standard solutions for their member organisations. It specialises in the digital journey of products, with strong focus on creating value to their members. With Sofigate on board, the destiny is clear, and the journey has become far smoother. Trade Connectors is ready to pursue their business goals.

Trade Connectors benefits, collaborates, invests, and builds a GS1 Platform together with its member organisations. It creates products and services that build a connection between the physical and digital world and help to manage the digital duplicate of products in the data value chain. The company had grown steadily since it started its activities in 2015. However, it had reached a point where its processes had become an obstacle for efficiency and scalability.

“It is obvious that we had outgrown our processes. We had to bring in structure and put new methods in place”, says Jimmi Bonnelycke, Agile Director at Trade Connectors. “But most of all, we needed to know where to go with our products. We were just looking at the next quarter instead of a year or two ahead. We needed a guiding star.”

It became Sofigate’s mission to help to find that star. Trade Connectors had assessed development tasks they needed to accomplish, but they could not do it alone. The first step was to break down the task log to gain control of the transition. Sofigate provided focus, insight, and ideas on how to proceed. And then, pulled up the sleeves to make it happen.

“This kind of transformation requires a lot of effort and internal discussions to define the best ways of working. Everyone at Trade Connectors was involved in this work and we could clearly see the results as we moved along. Now the obstacles are cleared, and Trade Connectors can focus on what’s important – the future of their business”, says Sofigate’s advisor Markus Heinonen.

From tangible improvements to a holistic approach

If you have ever worked in a growth company, you know how it goes. When the work keeps pouring in, you just try to handle whatever crosses your path – and may end up doing a lot of stuff on your left hand. With calendars and to-do-lists full to the brim, there’s no room for long-term development.

This was the situation at Trade Connectors, too. At first, the priority was to implement some tangible improvements on operational processes. But it soon became clear that they needed a more holistic approach. “We had to start from scratch, look at the whole organisation and clarify our way of working. Later, this would dribble down to our operational processes”, says Bonnelycke.

The focus shifted to agile transformation. Sofigate helped define how to work and document things in an agile manner, and what structures could be suitable for Trade Connectors. “They brought in knowledge from the Business Technology standard framework, picked the pieces we needed, and took them into our world”, he continues.

The result is a mixture of structure and agile methods.

“It’s not 100% agile: it’s agile our way. We have a structure we can rely on, processes and documentation in place, and common tools to work with”, Bonnelycke remarks.

Would you like to improve the ways of working at your organisation? We can help! 

Transformation at all levels

The transition affects Trade Connectors at all levels of their operations. “At the strategic level, the project has highlighted our improvement areas. Unifying the strategic approach amongst our members is the key to successful and efficient collaboration”, Bonnelycke says.

On the tactical level, Trade Connector’s manner of dividing responsibilities has changed completely, with a shift to a product-centric approach. Resources are now distributed around the products, and the company knows what kind of workload it can take. “We can focus on what we are doing, and what we can achieve quarterly, per sprint or 1-2 years ahead. This gives our members transparency on our resources and strengthens our relationship with them.”

At the operational level, Trade Connectors is ready to put new practices into use. Processes have been documented, gaps have been identified and improvements can be implemented step by step. A lot of this work is still on-going, but the vision is clear. And now that the management has more space in their calendars, they can effectively lead the organisation forward.

Trade Connectors is pleased with the motivation and hands-on approach that Sofigate has showed all along this process.

“We were very satisfied with the competence level and eagerness of our advisor Markus Heinonen. He made a great contribution and without his efforts it would have been impossible to keep our daily business running while creating, documenting, and facilitating this change. We couldn’t have done it without him”, Bonnelycke says.

Follow your star

This giant development leap has helped Trade Connectors build the foundation for their future growth. With day-to-day operations running smoothly, the company is ready to shift into a higher gear and scale their business. Now, they can focus on their business goals and ensure that their members receive the highest value from their services.

“In 2021, we will concentrate on developing our processes to support stable growth with new services and members. Looking at the next strategy period, we prepare to further develop our organisation and service portfolio to meet the future needs of our members. We are excited to start our journey towards this opportunity and thrilled to be in this unique position together with our members”, Bonnelycke states.

The guiding star is bright and shining; Trade Connectors is now ready to see where it takes them.

How have others transformed their businesses with Sofigate experts’ help? To find out, read more of our success stories here!

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