Team story

Ponsse x Solita: Building strength through communication, collaboration and commitment

Heini Lehtipuu Analytics Consultant, Solita

Published 02 Jan 2024

Reading time 6 min

Ponsse Plc specialises in the design, manufacture, and sale of forest machines and related services. Established in 1970, Ponsse has grown to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of logging machinery and technology.

Ponsse focuses on developing and producing technologically advanced forestry machinery, including harvesters, forwarders, and their associated components. Designed to optimise timber harvesting operations, Ponsse’s machines improve productivity, minimise environmental impact, and are known for their reliability, durability and safety.

While Ponsse has long been a leading provider of forestry machinery and equipment, they knew they needed to expand the digital component of their product to meet evolving customer needs. Their customers needed more data to run their operations in the most efficient and sustainable way, while avoiding downtime and unnecessary costs.

But, to do this, they needed to build out their own data capabilities, to create a bigger picture of their own operation — a major digitisation project. To do this, they turned to us.

That was in 2018. Now, five years later, the relationship between us holds strong, bolstered by an exciting backlog of projects.

Together, we have made great strides in bringing Ponsse closer to its vision of being the go-to, end-to-end service provider for the global forestry industry.

The projects

The team has collaborated on a number of projects over the years, including:

  • Bringing IoT technology and APIs between systems to improve machine understanding and management
  • Crafting a sleek, cloud-enabled end-to-end solution to gather and refine business data in order to support customer needs and internal processes
  • Creating a modern effective and flexible system to manage production with a new manufacturing execution system (MES)
  • Unleashing the power of the cloud by migrating operations to a cloud-based data platform
  • Building an unstoppable data management structure and stream for Ponsse’s next-gen telematics unit

No walk in the park. But the projects were made easy, thanks to the dynamic collaboration between us.

It’s this close relationship that allows them to foster true innovation over every project.

A team primed for collaboration

The team was made up of a number of people from Solita, Ponsse and other Ponsse suppliers, each with different specialisations. This included:

  • Analytics Consultants
  • Data Engineers
  • Data Architects
  • Service Designers
  • Product Owners
  • Scrum Masters
  • QA Leads
  • Test Specialists
  • Software Developers
  • API Developers
  • Integration Specialists

However, the real extended team consisted of more than Solitans. In fact, the close partnership with Ponsse meant that the team at Solita became honorary Ponsseans, in a way.

The Solita team embraced their adopted status and formed an unstoppable bond with the Ponsse crew, along with other agency and contractor partners. This dream team’s direct and regular communication paved the way for mind-blowing solutions and solidified Solita as Ponsse’s go-to partner.

Their secret sauce? Effective communication, baby! Even amidst the complex web of interconnected systems the team was working within, the diverse skills and backgrounds of the team members meant they could tackle any challenge head-on — ensuring the projects stayed on track and the client stayed happy.

But it wasn’t just about solving problems; it was about dreaming big and making things happen. That wide breadth of knowledge and skill sets had huge impacts at the planning and designing stages. With the unique perspective and input of everyone (both Solitans and the wider Ponsse team), it was easier to account for different dependencies that might otherwise have affected the solutions being implemented.

This was especially important considering the long-term nature of this client relationship. Solita made sure the knowledge and lessons learned were passed down the line to any new members of the team. Newcomers and specialists were welcomed into the fold — and armed with the expertise needed to keep the projects charging forward like a beast.

“The best parts of working in this project are those shared aha moments when we find a solution to a customer need or manage to think out a logical challenge. It’s a joined effort and a joined joy of figuring out the solution.”

Fostering a strong client relationship

In any project, understanding the client’s needs, goals, and expectations is crucial to ensuring the best possible outcome. At the beginning of any project, our teams always strive to understand the impact their projects will have — both for the client and for any end users. It’s not just about skimming the surface; it’s about digging deep to unleash full impact.

Collaboration is key to this. By working closely with the client, our team can provide input on critical decisions, avoiding any future discord or misunderstanding. This collaborative approach ensures that the project progresses in the right direction and doesn’t veer too far off course.

To help with this, the team established Slack channels for different projects so there could be direct communication between us, Ponsse and third-party agencies. These channels serve as a communication hub, facilitating seamless collaboration and timely information exchange. This regular communication also helps to maintain the flow of teamwork and makes it easier for all stakeholders to collaborate effectively.

This open and trackable communication is pivotal for long-term success, as it ensures everyone is on the same page and fosters transparency, trust, and accountability. It also means expectations can be managed from the beginning, so no false promises are made.

This open communication culture is one of the key reasons why the Ponsse projects have been such a success.

Lessons learned and future growth

Throughout the project, the project team gained valuable insights and lessons regarding collaboration and client relationships. These lessons highlight the significance of building a strong partnership, effective communication, and a shared vision for future projects.

The most important takeaways:

  1. All part of the team: One of the key lessons learned is the importance of fostering an “us” relationship with clients and their partners. By considering everyone as part of the same team, collaboration becomes seamless and productive. This approach promotes trust, shared goals, and a sense of unity, leading to more successful outcomes.
  2. Over, don’t under-communicate: Maintaining open and frequent communication throughout the project lifecycle is crucial, because it ensures everyone involved is well-informed about project progress, challenges, and any changes in the team. Transparent communication also facilitates smooth transitions during team changeovers, enabling the project to continue without disruptions.
  3. Keep end users top-of-mind: When building new solutions, it can be easy to get lost in the possibilities and the excitement of doing ever more exciting things. There’s a balance that needs to be maintained at all times: between suggesting and implementing new features, and not losing sight of the end goal and most important basic functionalities.

Another important thing is to recognise the significance of looking ahead and understanding the future of the client relationship.

By actively discussing where the relationship is headed, both parties can align expectations and explore new project opportunities in relation to the big picture.

What’s next?

So what’s next? Well, we’re still figuring it out — but one thing’s for sure: we’re pumped to see what the next stage in our relationship with Ponsse will be.

There are many exciting opportunities on the horizon for the team. If you think you’d be a good fit — or if you’re excited by the prospect of building impactful solutions with a long-term partner, then get in touch. We’d love to meet you.

Authors

Heini Lehtipuu Analytics Consultant, Solita

Maiju Hoffrén Product Owner, Ponsse

Mikael Paajanen Data Engineer

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