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Cost Anaylsis Tool


Our client, a multinational Fortune 500 company, uses an Excel-based tool to look for cost savings opportunities in its materials, manufacturing, and distribution chain. The tool was created in-house and after years of use, had grown considerably in size and complexity. It had become so complex that it was a struggle for our client to achieve widespread adoption. Less than 10% of people trained continued to use the tool after the initial 3-day training.

Recognizing that they were missing out on potential savings in the hundreds of millions, our client engaged SEP to reimagine the tool.


We started our engagement with a multi-day Discovery workshop to frame the opportunity and begin to dive deep into the future of the tool. At the end of the workshop, it was clear that we needed to build a more accessible, intuitive tool, but there were several ways to do it. The solution space was less certain, so we decided a Lean Startup-based approach would provide the best outcome for our client. The Discovery workshop resulted in a prioritized list of risks and unknowns to tackle with prototypes.

Early prototypes were validated and iterated on with users and internal stakeholders. We were able to quickly reject bad ideas and amplify good ones based on this early feedback. With a design in hand, we were able to focus on a target persona and initial features for an MVP.

We worked together with our client to create the backlog and begin design and development of the new desktop application. To ensure we were building the right thing, we broke the first release up into smaller, minor releases, getting user feedback along the way. These releases served as validation points to course-correct as the software came to life.

Discovery is never truly finished. After the core application was in place, we focused our efforts on increasing user adoption. We devised a workshop to apply the concepts of Gamification to our client’s product. For years, the video game industry has focused on consumer engagement techniques. SEP has pioneered the application of these techniques at enterprise-level with our clients. After a one-day workshop session, we compiled the ideas from the workshop into a series of recommendations that were worked into the product backlog and roadmap.


Together we created the first version of the desktop application that is far more usable than the large, complex Excel file it replaced. With each release, more people are able to use relevant features that create immediate value for our client. These iterative releases also allow users quicker access to the tool rather than waiting for one large release.

Since the app incorporates training, users can receive training when they need it, not months or years before its applicable. It saves our client time and lowers the barrier for use. We will continue to work with our client to add new features to the application. Our client’s long term vision is to perform cost analysis using the app on every product they produce. In the next year, they hope that several hundred more employees will use the tool to find valuable cost savings for their organization.

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