Interview with Julian Ludescher

Julian Ludescher

Since its foundation in 1996, keytech Software GmbH has established itself as a market-leading expert in the field of PLM and DMS software and has won over customers worldwide with its in-depth expertise and many years of experience.

Its solutions for optimizing business processes are characterized by high flexibility and effectiveness. Modular and highly scalable systems allow keytech’s customers to react quickly to changing requirements, as well as to save time and money in the long term.

In addition to innovative solutions for the management of company data or processes and product lifecycle management, keytech also provides all-round support, from the very first minute until even after delivery of the developed software. The company keytech maintains long-term and intensive cooperation with its customers and supports them in establishing the system in all business areas. 

Julian Ludescher, IT Manager of keytech Software GmbH, was kind enough to answer some questions about the company’s cooperation with AlfaPeople.

Tell us about yourself and keytech Software GmbH.

At keytech we see it as our task to give our customers a full perspective over all documents, processes and the corresponding company data relevant to the value creation process. Having started 20 years ago with the management of CAD data in traditional engineering, keytech now offers its customers a solution that combines PLM, DMS and planning or work organization in one integrated solution, thus optimally supporting our customers in their daily work and allowing them to focus on really important tasks.

I completed my training at keytech and have been part of the team for 8 years now, of which I have been responsible for internal IT for 7 years. My main task is to expand, maintain and secure our IT infrastructure. Ultimately, all IT-specific project inquiries are prioritized and assigned by me and all in-house IT support and customer-specific IT inquiries are handled by my department.

How have the IT structure and requirements at keytech changed over the years? What competitive conditions or industry-specific requirements do you have to face daily?

I think there are two essential drivers of development for us as software manufacturers. On the one hand, it is naturally important for keytech to be able to flexibly orchestrate and scale many different environments in order to develop and test our own software. In this area, we have virtualized many machines in recent years and in the process have massively increased reliability.

The second aspect is that the landscape of enterprise software is increasingly shifting towards web and mobile technologies – not least when you look at our own solutions.

One important challenge is therefore to keep up with the pace of these developments and to provide the necessary infrastructure without neglecting the security aspect.

What were keytech’s reasons for investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) system? What problems / challenges did you face with existing processes?

At keytech, we have been working with Dynamics CRM for several years now. One of the main reasons was certainly that sales processes are also becoming more and more collaborative these days. In the end, the customer naturally has a central sales contact, but in the background, members of the sales and pre-sales teams as well as sales engineers are involved in sales projects in order to provide the customer with the best possible support. It also became important for us to create a central platform capable of mapping these sales processes. And even though we have implemented a lot of features involving documents and subsequent commercial processing in our own solution, CRM 365 shows its full strengths in the sales process and also, today, in our marketing department, and perfectly complements our own solution.

Why did keytech choose Microsoft Dynamics CRM? What are the advantages of the solution? What are the benefits of Microsoft?

As a provider who has not only experienced the transformation of CAD applications on the Windows platform since the mid-1990s, but has also played a decisive role in shaping it within our framework, keytech has always been strongly associated with Microsoft and has also been a Gold Partner for a long time. Therefore, in many cases it makes sense to evaluate our partner’s solutions first. Dynamics not only meets all our customer relationship requirements, but it also fits perfectly into our Microsoft IT architecture.

What challenges had to be solved during the update to Dynamics 365 and how did keytech manage them together with AlfaPeople?

As already indicated, our Dynamics CRM solution has already been around for several years and has been continuously developed and adapted to current requirements by our internal system administrators. One of the biggest challenges for us was to migrate the database to the current version of Dynamics 365. There were one or two pitfalls with a solution like ours that had grown over the years and it was more than helpful to have the experts from AlfaPeople on board, who could draw on the experience and expertise that was needed to locate in the system that the appropriate adjustments had to be made in order to remove these stumbling blocks.

How many users are currently working with the solution? How would you describe user acceptance? What improvements in your company can you highlight that stem from the Dynamics 365 update?

Currently we have 81 users in our system. The acceptance of the new version is very high among the core teams, for whom we had set up a comprehensive on-boarding process as part of the update. In the end, this might also have something to do with the fact that we took the opportunity to standardize and thoroughly clean up the old form layouts. In addition, we have also greatly optimized the JavaScript libraries in the forms and implemented some new convenience functions in the new version. When adapting the previous scripts to the new SDK from Dynamics, support from AlfaPeople was also worth its weight in gold.

How did keytech hear about AlfaPeople? What can you say about AlfaPeople as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner? How do you rate the cooperation with AlfaPeople?

At keytech, we found you through a web search and have finally encountered a partner who complements our internal expertise at the points it takes to carry out the update successfully and in a short time. It was also important that we could work together professionally, but within a friendly and easy-going partnership. This is the way we treat our customers and this is the logical consequence of the demands we make as customers on other IT service providers. The collaboration with AlfaPeople has fully met, if not exceeded, expectations in this respect. With projects where one interacts with external partners up to 80% of the time, it is important to rely not only on competent and professional support, but also to cooperate in a way that works well on a personal level and is a good match.

What significance does digital transformation have for keytech? How do plan to deal with future trends and other cloud solutions?

Since we ourselves are solution providers in the field of digitization, we naturally deal a lot with new possibilities and technologies and try out a lot. I personally think, however, that – beyond the buzzwords – digitization clearly begins before the evaluation of technical possibilities. Before we start with the technical projects and implementation, we should first answer the question: what real added value should we expect from one another change for our own business? For this reason, in the end, it is rarely a matter of one strategically large-scale digital measure, but of many small steps which in their own right make sense from a business perspective and together make up what we then call “digital transformation“.

What are the next steps and milestones for keytech? What other IT projects are in the pipeline?

In the coming months, we will certainly focus on moving into our new keytech company building, as the old location has slowly but surely become too small due to our growth of recent years. In addition, we are increasingly looking at Azure and the Office 365 world. Over the next few years, we want to move some services from local infrastructure to the cloud.

In addition, new backup strategies are a key focus.