Case Study: Sweetman’s Timber

How sales process automation has helped one Hunter Valley timber business.

Client: Sweetman’s TimberIndustry: Manufacturing

About Sweetman’s Timber

Sweetman’s Timber produces quality Australian hardwood products for a variety of fencing, engineered products and timber landscaping supplies.

Operating since 1921, and based in the Hunter Valley, the fourth-generation family-owned business supplies thousands of products and made-to-measure cut timber to a range of clients.

Customers range from DIYers through to councils, industry and other large organisations, and the business specialises in long lengths of wood for structures like wharves and bridges.

With a team of 22 staff, Sweetman’s distributes to clients based predominantly in New South Wales.

“Cypher IQ Digital take the time to truly understand your business, they completely tailored a solution to meet our requirements. Cypher IQ Digital have proven themselves as technology experts. They have delivered an incredible solution and are always looking to add value to improve our business processes. The team offer a service that provides a business solution not a product, this is why we decided to partner with them.”

Luke Crump – General Manager

The Challenge.

Sweetman’s General Manager Luke Crump explained how the business caters to a variety of customer requirements. “We’re nimble enough to handle the needs of our smaller DIY customers, and yet we’re big enough to be able to customise, scale up and adapt to the requirements of any size job – even large commercial projects,” he said.

That adaptability comes at a cost. With so many different types of jobs going through at one time, good communication between multiple staff members became a vital requirement for ensuring the smooth processing of each order.

“We can be running with anything up to 200 orders in the system at one time,” explained Luke. “We’d been relying on pen and paper to relay information – but with the hand-written system, there were up to five different places where inaccuracies could creep in.”

The disjointedness of their paper system also meant that valuable time was often being wasted – not only on tasks like data entry and filing, but also in the chasing up and checking of issues when clarification was required.

When it came to the filing and archiving of order documents, the company’s manual storage system relied on large amounts of paper needing to be retained and filed away. “This was a challenge, as documents were often getting rained on, blown away or misplaced in the fulfilment of orders,” said Luke.

The Solution.

The business decided to employ Cypher IQ Digital to help them digitally automate their sales order processes.

Using a fully scalable and customised solution, Sweetman’s has been able to introduce the processes and systems to help them minimise the potential for errors, file and retrieve documents at the touch of a button and enhance the overall customer experience.

As Luke explained, the new system was rolled out in stages, “This meant that user uptake was actually much higher, as our team felt more involved in the creation process, being able to offer feedback and adapt it for their specific needs over time.”

“The new system has transformed our day-to-day efficiencies in a number of key areas.”

“Until the introduction of this technology, we’d never actually done product coding in the mill – but the new process has radically improved our ability to more easily search for and source products.”

The Result.

“The new system has transformed our day-to-day efficiencies in a number of key areas,” reported Luke. First to be impacted was the mill itself. “Until the introduction of this technology, we’d never actually done product coding in the mill – but the new process has radically improved our ability to more easily search for and source products,” he said.

Not only that, but the link between mill and office has also been enhanced. “With the digital system, everyone works with the same information, using the same system, which minimises errors and improved efficiencies,” Luke explained. “Because updates are now in real time, we’ve eliminated any lag involved in relaying information between different employees, as everyone is working off the same data. And we can also clearly see the status of every order and keep tabs on where it’s at, and relay that to the customer.”

Order process transparency and tracking has also been fine-tuned using the new solution. “With this system, orders can be completed a lot more quickly – and we’ve also been able to dramatically reduce the number of errors made, minimising incorrect order details before products reach a client, saving us a lot of additional processing costs.”

The reduced time spent on paperwork, and the improved overall quality of the company’s documentation has also been invaluable, Luke continued. “We just load everything into the system, along with all drawings, purchase orders or other relevant docs. That enables everything to be fully visible to everybody at any time. Nothing gets lost or misplaced, and there’s no longer any need for complicated filing systems or time-consuming admin.”

The functionality also has a hugely positive impact on employee accountability, explained Luke. “Accountability tools have really been pushed in the last six months, making it much easier to see exactly who’s done what. This means that if something doesn’t look right, we can straight away double-check for clarification with the person responsible, rather than wasting time chasing up who did what.”