ArtiCAD-Pro was first installed for Hammonds in 2002. Now, some two hundred and fifty designers working for the company are using the ArtiCAD-Pro software. However it is the number of custom developments which have been undertaken by ArtiCAD for Hammonds, and the extent of its integration with the company’s business systems, which takes the partnership between the two companies to a completely different level. Michael Page: “ArtiCAD – both the company and the software – is more important to us now than it has ever been. It really is a 100% partnership on both sides”.
Supporting the designer network
All the company’s current and new designers, who work on a self-employed basis, are trained and supported by an in-house ‘Super User’, with second line support being provided by ArtiCAD. With designers located across the UK, Hammonds use a network licence deployment approach, developed by ArtiCAD. This enables designers to log on to the company’s password-protected server to obtain an ArtiCAD licence which they retain and use remotely without needing to be connected to the server or to the Internet. By logging into the server periodically, they can automatically download the very latest ArtiCAD-Pro Hammonds product catalogue. The system works seamlessly to ensure that designers – using laptops, tablets and other mobile devices – always have access to their systems no matter where they are – making it faster and easier for them to sell a Hammonds-based solution to their customers.
A meeting of minds
Although the integration of ArtiCAD-Pro into the Hammonds enterprise is fundamental to the close partnership between the two companies, the personal relationship is just as important. Quarterly meetings are held between high level technical, R&D personnel and surveyors from Hammonds and ArtiCAD-Pro to provide an essential face-to-face open forum to discuss changes, make plans for new developments and understand where both companies are heading. Hammonds spokesman: “We have a reactive, rather than proactive culture at Hammonds – but one of the effects of this is that a decision is made to implement a change, and it needs to be done immediately. We react very fast as a company, and ArtiCAD is more than able to match this. This cultural synergy is very important to us.”
Custom Developments to ensure best of breed
About five or six major custom developments are undertaken by ArtiCAD for Hammonds each year. The aim of the majority of these developments is to make it even simpler and easier for the designers to use, which in turn helps them sell.
Integration of ArtiCAD-Pro with Hammonds core business systems enables designers to order all the necessary items for their design and then automatically view their choices as a more intuitive or clearer to read electronic file, in conjunction with the ArtiCAD design. Known as ‘auto fill’, this system was developed by ArtiCAD and introduced at the end of 2012. “Designers just press one button, everything they need appears in just one program. It’s simplicity itself.”
A further significant development allows designers to capture on-site signatures and incorporate them into the necessary authorisation. This can then be transmitted to head office for immediate processing, without the need to wait for order paperwork.
Responding to the demand for customers who want to have different colours in their rooms – sometimes on a single unit – a development undertaken in August 2013 enables designers to mix and match any colour or combination of colours onto any item.
ArtiCAD has provided Hammonds with access to an up-to-the-minute version of their custom ArtiCAD-Pro system, and incorporating the most recent change requests. This allows Hammonds to test, approve and simultaneously deploy changed versions to their design team without any delay. “We simply could not work without this. Everything we do has to be 100% correct and the introduction of Version Control makes this happen.” Allied to this, is a web-based issue logging system which allows Hammonds to notify ArtiCAD of any issues with either systems or catalogues. The log is accessed daily, acted upon and any program or catalogue changes are made, which can then be tested using Version Control.
“Our version of the software is now unrecognisable from a few years ago. I am confident that our partnership with ArtiCAD will continue working together to introduce even more innovations in the future.”