Situated on the Swiss-German border, Rheinfelden Alloys has been in the aluminium cast alloy business for over a century. In years past, the company served almost exclusively large or industrial customers; today, the client list includes plenty of small and medium-sized enterprises. To see this change in business strategy through, Rheinfelden Alloys turned to staff at the Management Cockpit Steinbeis Transfer Center for guidance and support during implementation.
Maintaining the momentum of the new strategy required a two-prong approach. First, the company had to purchase production equipment that could also produce small batches efficiently. Second, Rheinfelden Alloys needed to invest in a web-based sales and marketing portal that would serve a variety of purposes, especially pinpoint new customers and cement loyalty. Steinbeis helped Rheinfelden Alloys arrive at a portal that was a perfect fit with the new strategy.
At the outset, the experts run a number of exploratory workshops to help the company determine what the new B2B portal should do. The first key criterion: the site had to be designed around customers. It also had to be easy for employees to keep the site up to date. And lastly, tying the portal into the company’s mid-term IT strategy was crucial.
At a later stage, the site should provide selected customers with information held on the Rheinfelden Alloys ERP system. Another aim of the site was to feature software that would allow users to manage interoffice documents themselves.
After considering their requirements, Rheinfelden Alloys chose software called Liferay, a market leader among professional open source business portals. The decision was made after the Steinbeis Transfer Center scrutinized a total of seven software products. Once the software had been chosen, the team developed a style guide and storyboard in parallel – both essential to meet site requirements in an actual software environment.
The style guide captured all aspects of corporate design with an impact on the portal. Here, the Steinbeis employees joined forces with an advertising agency. The storyboard illustrated how visitors would use and navigate through different pages. It was even possibly to click around: users were sent PDF files with links in to browse just as they would on a live site. Using the style guide and storyboard as a basis, the team finetuned the software and began adding content to the portal. Another Steinbeis Transfer Center, object-IT, then worked on what was by now a more menial programming and set up the site infrastructure. Live since the late summer of 2009, the site is an all-round success.