McMillan Shakespeare Group Finds a Platform for Rapid Innovation with OutSystems
MMSG relied on numerous custom applications that take up far too much of IT’s time on maintenance. Innovation was challenging, and a lengthening development queue included many high-priority digital initiatives. With OutSystems, MMSG has accelerated application development, while at the same time enabling superior engagement and collaboration with business stakeholders throughout the application delivery process. Today, MMSG is innovating at speed to keep Australia’s largest provider of salary packaging and novated leasing services ahead of the market for customer experience.
"We needed to respond more quickly to changing business needs and customer demands. OutSystems is a key platform for a faster and more responsive approach to IT that will support our evolving business.."
A Need for Speed
Challenge – When you’re operating in a niche market, it’s hard to find off-the-shelf applications that match your needs. With 15 brands offering a broad range of novated vehicle-leasing, salary packaging, consumer finance, and asset management services, McMillan Shakespeare Group (MMSG) had accumulated a lot of custom systems over its 30-year history and building, maintaining, and updating them took up a lot of IT’s time and attention.
Dan Giesen-White, the group’s CIO, knew things needed to change to support MMSG’s plans for continued growth. “The traditional ‘build and run’ approach we’d been taking was too slow and inefficient to enable the rapid innovation we were looking for,” Dan explains. “We wanted to reduce the time, money, and effort we were spending across the application lifecycle—not just in delivering new apps, but in maintaining and evolving those apps over time.”
So, Dan sent his team to look for platforms that could help them release innovation activities from the constraints of legacy systems, to run fast, low-cost experiments, and to collaborate more closely with users. Several factors led the team to favor OutSystems, including:
- Faster, model-driven development
- Ease of use for MMSG’s in-house and outsourced developers
- The ability to integrate with any system
- .NET-centric development, allowing MMSG to incorporate custom code and avoid vendor lock-in
“After a four-week pilot, it was clear that OutSystems could give us the capability not just to speed up delivery, but to make it faster and cheaper to maintain and improve any apps we built using the platform,” says Dan.
Getting Off the Paper Trail
Solution – To begin their low-code journey, Dan set development teams to work building two apps that would digitally enable and accelerate the sales process.
Using OutSystems, a team of just two developers took 12 weeks to build Digital RFQ, a mobile app that is used to capture customers’ request for quotation (RFQ) details at client sites and submit them directly into the CRM system. This eliminated the 3-4 day delay incurred by processing paper forms to prepare novated lease and salary packaging quotations. Moreover, a modern, digital experience also gives customers a great first impression of the business.
- Mobile app works offline at remote client sites such as mining facilities
- API integration to push RFQs to the CRM system in real time
- A slick user experience modernizes the application process
Four developers developed a second web-based application in 20 weeks. This has significantly streamlined the origination of new car finance agreements. Now MMSG reps can trigger digital finance applications from the CRM system. The customer receives an email with a link to their personalized application form. When they complete and submit the form, the collected data is immediately pushed back to the CRM system, so financiers can progress the approval.
- Web-based application eliminated printing and scanning from the origination process
- Intelligent forms that adapt to different finance types
- Two-way API integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
These two new apps are just the beginning. Dan says: “We have a third solution about to go live—a dealer portal that will act as an online marketplace to improve transparency and competition across our dealer network and get faster, more competitive offers to customers. After completing two relatively simple projects to get up to speed with OutSystems, we felt ready to tackle more strategic digital transformation objectives with low-code.”
Life in the Fast Lane
Results – During the Digital RFQ project, SoftVision (MMSG’s outsourced development partner) ran a parallel traditional .NET development project. Even though the team that was using OutSystems was still learning the platform, their development speed advantage was double that of the traditional project. As a consequence, SoftVision has developed an OutSystems consulting practice and is now a certified OutSystems partner.
Digital RFQ is already processing around 7,500 quotation requests a year, and the offline capability makes it ideal for MMSG staff to take to any client site. By digitalizing the application process, customers get a much faster and better experience.
MMSG’s finance app currently processes around 220 applications every weekday and has reduced the time it takes to receive an application from an average of three days to as little as an hour. The improved digital experience has also increased completion rates.
Faster quotations and approvals make for happier customers and increased sales. As one of MMSG’s sales managers confirms: “My client located the new car he wanted at 11 am. I emailed him the link for the finance application form; he completed it on his mobile phone at the dealership and submitted it straightaway. We got finance approval, and he drove away in his new car that afternoon. That’s the fastest turnaround time I’ve ever seen.”
Everything Gets Quicker
- Initial projects developed 2x faster than hand-coding
- Eliminated 3-4 day delay in processing RFQ paperwork
- Removed inefficient manual processes
- Reduced average finance approval time from three days to three hours
Planning for an Innovative Future
Beyond the new capabilities these individual apps provide, there’s a bigger picture. “We’re taking a new approach to IT to build speed and efficiency into every part of the lifecycle—not just development, but the maintenance and evolution of our apps,” says Dan. “For us, low-code was never about just spinning up a couple of quick fixes,” Dan adds. “We wanted to support a new way of thinking about how we do IT to deliver rapid, high-value innovations—and OutSystems gives us that platform.”