Ingersoll Rand: Managing Spreadsheets in the Age of Digital Transformation

OVERVIEW

Ingersoll Rand, a worldwide provider of industrial equipment and technologies, found their End User Computing Tools limiting and unsuitable for enterprise deployment.

Ingersoll Rand relies on many End User Computing Tools, custom solutions they developed for their specific needs, and many of these tools were developed with client-side software such as Microsoft Excel and Access. This approach was far faster and less costly than custom coding solutions from scratch, but were often not well suited for enterprise deployment.

We have used EASA to build CPQ tools which consolidate dozens of processes across our business. As a “citizen developer”, I can publish my own apps without relying on IT. The ability to put a wrapper around the pre-exisitng spreadsheet is also attractive – you don’t have to code any logic.

Nick Seagrave
Pricing Manager

The Problem

Excel offered the needed flexibility and agility lacking in commercial “CPQ” (configure, price, quote) but presented its’ own limitations, such as poor security of their proprietary data and algorithms, and were highly difficult to manage and control in large scale deployments.

Like many companies, Ingersoll Rand uses End User Computing tools such as Excel and Access. These tools are used for a variety of tasks where existing enterprise systems do not meet users’ needs. An example use-case is product pricing for products which must be configured or customized to a customer’s specific requirements. In these situations, off-the-shelf CPQ systems often cannot provide the same flexibility and agility as Excel.

OUR SOLUTION

With the low-code tool EASA, they were able to create enterprise-grade applications that completely protected their IP and eliminated typical spreadsheet management issues.

While Excel is very popular, it is not particularly amenable to efforts to modernize and automate business processes. When critical spreadsheets are shared via email or network drives, it is difficult or impossible to include capabilities which are standard for most enterprise applications: user-authentication via single sign-on systems, secure cloud-based deployment, data capture from each user’s session, and the ability to perform analytics on users’ data. With so many users now working remotely, perhaps the biggest concern is the security of data and intellectual property contained in spreadsheets. Extracting the complex business logic from Excel and embedding it in a hard-coded application is prohibitively expensive, and most low-code systems do not offer a way to reliably extract logic from Excel. So, like many companies, Ingersoll Rand simply continued to live with the disadvantages of Excel.

THE RESULTS

Ingersoll Rand was able to deploy completely custom enterprise CPQ applications that re-used their existing spreadsheet-based application. Not only did this retain the inherent benefits of Excel, but it also allowed for a far faster and less costly solution compared to writing a custom solution from scratch.

Ingersoll Rand looked for a solution to bring Excel-based processes up to date and identified EASA’s unique approach as ideal. EASA provides an intuitive low-code environment with which “fit for purpose” applications can be rapidly built. Unlike other low-code platforms, however, EASA enables application builders to leverage Excel spreadsheets (complete with macros and VBA) as “logic engines” for the apps they publish. This approach completely eliminates what would be a prohibitively expensive effort to recreate the logic that already exists in Excel. Several apps have been successfully deployed. Examples
include:

  • Sales Concession Tool
    This is used by the sales teams to quote for compressors, blowers, fluid transfer systems and other highly engineered products
  • Ticketing App
    The pricing team uses this app to upload master pricing data to SAP as part of a formalized process; this eliminates the need for several hundred people independently updating data in SAP
  • Pricing Database App
    This replaces an out-of-date Access database and is used for pricing aftermarket sales; it saves many hours per da

The latest app, currently in testing, automatically generates a price book; it makes it straightforward for management to update pricing and ensure that everyone is using the current version.

This approach of using a real database such as SQL Server combined with the logic capabilities of Excel has proved very agile and maintainable. It is highly relevant because a recent merger between Ingersoll Rand and Gardner Denver will result in significant changes to the business logic. If it was hard-coded this would be an impossible task; instead, the logic can be updated in Excel and then re-published as a web app, usually in minutes.

Benefits of Using EASA for Enterprise CPQ Applications

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