BRUNSWICK BOWLS A PERFECT 300 WITH LANSA
Experience is everything at Brunswick. That’s why for over 125 years, Brunswick has been the leader in bowling products, services and industry expertise for the development and renovation of recreational bowling centers. The company’s expansive portfolio is a result of being the only full-line supplier of bowling equipment, supplies and consumer products. Brunswick is represented by a large team of North American sales members and a large pool of distributors, located in every market of the world.
Despite this success, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced. Even more, the application was connected to multiple back-end systems and databases – Windows and IBM – and due to the complex set up, it was difficult to share back- office data across departments. The application had delivered on its initial vision but had reached beyond the extent of its life expectancy, no longer fully meeting business and user expectations.
After failed attempts using open source tools, Brunswick built full-stack enterprise-grade apps with LANSA.
Keith Arteaga, Brunswick IT Manager, knew the VB6 application had to go. While his team were experts in developing for a specific operating system and technology stack, reaching beyond that stack into multi-UX development was presenting a skill and learning curve challenge. In addition, data silos were impacting the company’s ability to access operational information and manage sales opportunities in a timely manner. For example, before an opportunity became a contract it went through a lengthy validation process. This required users to retrieve information from multiple databases to perform a comprehensive credit analysis, evaluate payment history and assess past product sales. The sales team had to depend on office personnel and numerous manual steps to provide them with this information.
Arteaga’s vision was to replace the old application with a point and click web solution that could be hosted on the same system that drives their back-office processes. By doing so, his team could consolidate user interfaces and data access to bring all their business intelligence data into a single application and architecture. This would dramatically speed user access to quotes, credit approvals, contracts, freight shipments and payment schedules. Sales could much more easily track and manage their opportunities through every phase of the sales cycle. Customer expectations would be more accurately set and met.
“After two months into the project our team started to become concerned about manageability,” said Arteaga. “There were no boundaries in the development environment and the split environment was a dramatic departure from how we were used to developing for our ERP. We spent a lot of time jumping between environments. Debugging was very difficult. And there was a lack of standards – it seemed like the wild west – too many different ways to do one function. The team wanted to be more progressive but was getting tangled up in determining sustainable standards that would guide both development and enable the ease of on-going maintenance. Our team is too small to build apps that are difficult to maintain.”
Craig Sturtevant, Brunswick IT Analyst and lead developer on the project, expressed additional pain. “Some of our code was on one side of the fence where we were comfortable, and the rest was in the wild. Instead of everything being in one location where we were all working, it appeared in multiple places.”
The team could see where the maintenance of business logic and rules mixed in various parts of the code would be cumbersome to keep in sync with future changes.
Slipping behind schedule and concerned about sustainability, development in the split environment stopped. Arteaga turned his attention to finding an easier, long-term platform that would enable his team to collaborate, innovate and integrate with existing systems and databases from a single platform.
The LANSA low-code development platform was attractive to the team because it provided instant access to the architecture of a pre-built enterprise application. This meant the team could focus on business value and not have to learn so many new languages and separate frameworks.
In addition, the LANSA platform would expand the company’s access to data by integrating many systems across Brunswick’s diverse back- office data ecosystem within one development environment.
“With the help of online tutorials, documentation and a few calls to LANSA support, we got started with the LANSA platform quickly,” said Arteaga. “In a short amount of time, we built a lot of functionality that many other companies would not have taken on given the newness of the solution.”
The application handles all information relating to bowling equipment prospects, product and solution quotation, to contracts and management of current customers. To achieve this, the application integrates with many existing systems to bring users – depending on their permission level and needs – access to contacts, credit approvals, locations, opportunities, freight quotes, maintenance and payment schedules, contracts, document and email templates and more.
“To say we have been able to capitalize on being able to use lots of existing technology all while integrating it with the new application would be an understatement,” said Sturtevant.
For example, customer numbers in the application are tied to customer numbers in the company’s financial system. Receivables use these numbers to track and secure payments. Another benefit to the application is that it accesses, in real-time, the customer technical support database. This provides sales with awareness of any product or maintenance related issues before they call or visit customers as well as detailed information about what products are in use at customer sites.
“We have brought together data from many sources, providing more visibility into back-office data than ever before. Users see all the possibilities we now have in being able to integrate with existing systems. We’re really creating a system of record and a system of engagement all in one powerful application,” said Arteaga.
Sturtevant added, “When the project was done, and I went to do a small job in our old environment, it really hit me how much easier and more enjoyable the LANSA environment is to work with.”
In a short amount of time, we built a lot of functionality.
The new application was designed for both the everyday desktop power- user and the field-based laptop user. Arteaga and his team received many compliments on the application, including how much faster users can locate information. And because the LANSA platform is designed for speed, agility and reuse, Arteaga’s team experienced many benefits of their own.
“With LANSA, we noticed the speed of development easily increased by 30 percent. And, the overall ease of development dramatically improved. I also like the fact that our team can maximize reuse within the platform. Before, we’d have to hunt and peck through every program and manually make updates,” said Sturtevant.
Another key benefit of the LANSA platform is the ability to seamlessly extend web applications to mobile. Since Brunswick’s application has been so successful, the team is working on new mobile apps. Their goal is to enable the sales team to not only look up information about an opportunity or a contract, but also record notes or competitive intel in the field rather than wait until they get back to their laptop PCs.
Arteaga concluded, “As a manager, I was concerned about the depth of support available on our development platform and technologies. For a lot of the open source work, you’re at the mercy of online forums with no clear answers in many cases. By contrast, with LANSA, I have a very reassuring backbone of support confidence no matter how small or large of a question or concern that we have. I now have a platform which offers a simple low-code solution to build my applications, a developer team that can achieve our goals and a LANSA support team that continues to offer help and guidance.”
With LANSA, we noticed the speed of development easily increased by 30 percent. And, the overall ease of development dramatically improved.
Company and System Information
- The leader in the bowling industry for over 125 years, Brunswick provides products, services and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry.
- For more information visit brunswickbowling.com