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Automating manual processes and improving customer experience

Penstripe is the UK’s leading supplier of customisable school homework diaries. It invented the first personalised student and teacher planners over 25 years ago.

The problem

Previously, Penstripe’s processes looked like this:

  • Schools sent their designs via email, then Penstripe would manually convert these into a production format.
  • Lack of integration between incoming orders and resource planning (SAP system) increased errors and admin costs.
  • Discrepancies between designs and products added delays to processes.
  • Records of previous years’ designs weren’t easily accessible.
  • 80%+ of customers made orders within 1 month of the start of the academic year – pushing staff, processes and infrastructure to breaking point.

To solve these issues, Penstripe considered deploying an ‘off-the-shelf’ artwork submission tool. However, it was too limited, and lacked decent user experience (UX) and integration capabilities.

Penstripe’s overall objectives were to:

  1. Streamline and modernise their complex production process.
  2. Produce their products faster and with greater accuracy.
  3. Improve customer experience.
  4. Maximise their revenue and grow the business.
  5. Maintain their high levels of customer satisfaction.

The solution

Working closely with Penstripe, Helastel created a custom cloud-based solution. This included an automated, self-service Artwork Submission Tool (AST).

Chris Anderson, Sales Director at Penstripe: “We knew it would transform the efficiency of our process. It relieves pressure, reduces costs and improves the overall customer experience.”

“Helastel led the user research process, which helped us understand what our customers wanted. It was definitely worth it!”

Non-development work

  • Extensive user research with Penstripe customers, identifying personas and user stories.
  • Planned new system functionality – including a costed roadmap for future releases.
  • Provided full training and support for Penstripe system admins.
  • Consultancy and advice on how to launching the product to new and existing markets.

Iouri Prokhorov, Managing Director at Helastel: “We’ve designed various prototypes to find which features Penstripe’s end users want. We’re also providing strategic input on pricing, product after-care/support and the staged release of features.”

Development work

  • Web-based portal for customers to upload their designs to.
  • Automated conversion of designs into PDF format proofing and sign-off.
  • Password-controlled storage of all historic designs in PDF.
  • Enough processing power to simultaneously handle over 100 designs of 100+ pages each, without performance issues.
  • Integration with their ERP, SAP, and other systems.

The outcome

The new software was received well by Penstripe and its customers.

“Helastel was incredibly commercially-minded and intelligent in their approach,” added Chris. “They are far more than just a set of developers. Their solution has revolutionised our customers’ experience, and made our processes much more efficient. Thank you!”

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