Our Business Analyst and Margaret River local, Andrew Mann, is our man on the frontlines meeting with our customers around Australia and helping them iron out their issues with the best digital technology available. Since COVID-19 surfaced, he says the amount of Australian businesses wanting to go digital or sell online has experienced unprecedented growth.

We spoke with Drew to get his insight into the common flaws traditional businesses are looking to solve with automated digital technology, how the pandemic has created a gargantuan digital shift and why he’s incredibly lucky to still ride a bike and windsurf after a severe back injury.

What is your current role and how long have you worked in this industry?

“My current role is Business Analyst. Analysing what our customers require to improve their functionalities, understanding what their customers are having issues with and then taking those requirements and communicating it to our development team. I have a lot of understanding behind what our customers do on a day-to-day work week and that gives me a great insight into how our products can battle any flaws they have with their business operations.

It might be a simple paper-based issue for example, I can help them discover an automated digital process using our software. I take a look at what kind of data they need to capture, what workflows there are, what can be adopted digitally and what documents can be automated. I’ve been an analyst for 15 years, so I’ve visited a lot of different businesses.”

What do you get up to on your average workday?

“It usually starts with exercise to get the mind going. Could be a swim, paddle or bike ride, then I have morning meetings at 8:45 where I’ll present for our development teams and plan our approach for the day. When I’m up in Perth a few days every month I’ll correlate directly with the team and unbox our plans for customers. We break down our features into small goals and develop each factor into small territories until everyone understands the level it needs to be. So a mix between writing up plans ready to be reviewed and making myself available for any questions on our usability or functionalities.”

How would you describe the best way to run a supply chain management between a business and a customer?

“First thing I always do is ask who their key stakeholders are within their workplace. Typically businesses want to become streamlined, so my communication starts from the boss down, but you need to meet everyone involved in the day-to-day processes. This includes purchasing officers and sales teams who communicate with customers and manage orders or deliveries. My first crucial aspect is understanding the entire process and uncovering pain points. I need to empathise with the customer and understand what they’re having difficulties with. That might be excessive paperwork, the business could be losing orders or spend a lot of time on admin, or they just simply want to be more streamlined for customers coming on.

Most businesses want to join the digital age and provide better service to the point where the customer can use their mobile phone, iPad or desktop to manage everything electronically. There may be several reasons why they want to go digital, and we want to eliminate any chinks in their workflow chain to exceed their requirements. I’ll then analyse what will provide them the best bang for their buck and provide the best return on their investment. Some businesses are struggling with admin duties, others say they can’t manage their stock and don’t even know what their stock levels are. It’s important for me to identify these issues so our software can erase these problems.”

Since COVID-19 began, have you noticed a change in business requirements or issues they are struggling with?

“Since COVID-19 there has been a huge increase, particularly in retail for businesses wanting to sell online and go digital. In the past, customers used to come into a store and pick something up off the shelf or arrange a warehouse pickup. Customers are no longer shopping like that and I’ve noticed businesses are now shifting their traditional in-store processes to now running 95% of their product sales or orders entirely online.

We’ve seen a massive shift to businesses going completely digital because their customers have had to stay at home and are typically purchasing more from home than in stores. The increase in online orders has been huge and businesses have had to respond by having better software in payments and stock management to handle this surge of orders.

It’s not just been a shift in businesses wanting to sell online, but being able to deliver on that promise with receiving the orders quickly and shifting the orders out efficiently, so there has been a massive change in how logistics services are now operating during COVID-19.

It’s been quite a challenge for both businesses and their logistics partners. There have been delays of their products arriving in stock, transportation issues, managing the increase in digital orders, handling digital payments and delays in actually shifting those orders to customers. That’s where we’ve stepped in to help.”

Do you think Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in automating business processes and going digital?

“I certainly think we’re improving. I’m surprised to see we’re behind the rest of the world when it comes to businesses managing their processes digitally or getting their products online. We’re catching up and have leaders in this kind of technology, but we seem to be too traditional in regards to our supply chain system.

You would think with our cities and towns being so remote we would pick it up quickly. New Zealand is also very isolated and they picked it up remarkably fast. Australia will get better, we certainly have to if we want to compete on the world scale for supply chain, trading and digital sales capabilities.”

You suffered a severe back injury a few years ago, can you explain what happened and the recovery process? 

“Five years ago I was out mountain bike riding with mates through some trails in Margaret River and had way too much speed for an oncoming jump. I tried to slow down but it was too late, so I took the jump and went over the handlebars. Last thing I remember was putting my arms out to brace and thought I’d only cop a few grazes or cuts, but I slid along the track and went straight into a log, which forced my head into my chest and brought my legs up. I basically compressed my spine so my T-7 vertebrae was crushed between the bones above and below it. It literally just exploded.

I was unconscious for about five minutes and my friends knew I was in a bad way. I also punctured my lung and had trouble breathing. Luckily my friends were there otherwise I wouldn’t have walked out of there. Eventually, an ambulance took me to the Margaret River hospital and the doctor thought I’d broken my neck. It wasn’t until he rolled me over that he saw the damage to my spine, so I was transferred to Bunbury hospital for cat scans and an MRI. I was then air-lifted up to Royal Perth Hospital and they operated by placing two titanium rods in my back and fused my spine together.

The rehab process took about nine months for me to get to reach full recovery. I had a specialist who worked with me in the pool and developed a program. It included simple walks around my house and daily gym visits before the pain slowly got better. I thought I’d always have discomfort, but I can do most activities now without pain.

Spenda were very supportive of my recovery process and even gave me a standing desk so I’m not always seated and placing my back under duress. My colleagues and customer base gave me nothing but support throughout my rehabilitation and I was allocated as much time as needed getting back to 100% mobility. That incredible support allowed me to return to the field and be back helping our customers merely months after the injury.”

What kind of interests or hobbies do you have outside of work?

“Before COVID I would split my time 50/50 between the office in Perth and my home in Margaret River, now I’m up only for staff meetings a few days a month, so it’s changed considerably. Windsurfing is probably my number one favorite activity. I like to do as much swimming and kayaking as possible because that’s great for my back and mental health. I still love my cycling and mountain biking, but I don’t go near the heavy trails anymore!”