With over 230 instant oil change centers across the US, Henley faced a challenge: Securely capturing, sharing, and managing this data across distributed locations. Without a good solution, employees share and manage data using manual tools like paper and email. After trying tools they already had (MS Access, PowerApps, Sharepoint), Henley realized they needed more. They needed a platform that worked well with SQL data, created all types of web-based applications, and allowed for complete customization. After exploring their options, Henley discovered that the m-Power Development Platform checked all of those boxes, and more! Read this case study to learn how m-Power helped Henley Enterprises deliver all types of solutions -- completely customized to their business.
Gained the flexibility to deliver any type of solution they need on demand
Automated manual processes with workflows that fit their business
Created a wide variety of applications that are customized to their exact requirements
There's not the level of customization in PowerApps that you have in m-Power. Nowhere near it. But come on, I think that can be said of almost any other low-code environment. m-Power owns the space on customization in terms of how well it integrates into what you're doing and how easy you make it.
Full Case Study
Who is Henley Enterprises?
Headquartered in the Boston area, Henley Enterprises is the largest franchisee of Valvoline Instant Oil Change. Instant Oil Change Centers are all about speed and convenience. Customers don’t even have to get out of their car to receive maintenance services like oil changes, tire rotation, air filter replacement, and more. They can watch everything that’s being done on a 32-inch monitor in each bay.
Founded in 1989 with just one store, Henley has consistently grown since that time. They now own over 230 locations, employing more than 3,000 associates across the country.
Since I got here 5 and a half years ago, I've been struggling for the best way to get people off email, off paper, off of what I'll call human resource-intensive processes. Because, as we continue to grow, you don't want to just keep adding more and more people.
While Henley’s consistent growth is great for business, it does create some challenges from a data standpoint.
With so many locations, they generate a lot of data. Henley stores this data in an SQL database and integrates it with a SharePoint Intranet. Various systems (such as Point-of-Sale, HR, timekeeping, accounting, etc…) regularly feed data into the SQL database, so it’s constantly growing.
The big challenge: How do you go about securely capturing, sharing, and managing this data across distributed locations? Without a good solution, employees share and manage data using manual tools like paper and email. Not only does this waste time, it opens the door for data errors.
Robert Reeder, CIO and VP of Technology at Henley has made it a goal to address these challenges.
Since I got here 5 and a half years ago, I've been struggling for the best way to get people off email, off paper, off of what I'll call human resource-intensive processes,” explains Reeder. “Because, as we continue to grow, you don't want to just keep adding more and more people.
Henley has tried different ways to address these needs. One of the first approaches involved using tools they already had: Microsoft Access, PowerApps and SharePoint. But they ran into a few issues:
- SharePoint isn’t designed to handle that much data.
SharePoint PowerApps operate off lists, which are like very basic data tables. They’re good for some things but aren’t built to handle much data. Additionally, Microsoft imposes CPU throttle limits. You can only process so much data before speed gets throttled…which greatly slows down data processing time.
- PowerApps doesn’t allow much customization.
While PowerApps can build web applications, it’s limited.
One of the problems we ran into with PowerApps is if you didn't like what they provided, you had limited customizations available,explains Reeder.
- SharePoint data wasn’t synchronized with SQL.
While they had a program to synchronize their SharePoint lists with SQL data, it wasn’t real-time. If someone wanted to change data in SQL, they’d have to wait for the next sync cycle for updated data in SharePoint.
They also tried using MS Access as a front-end to the SQL database, but it didn’t fit their needs.
I do not like Access, because Access does not work well when it's distributed over a network," explains Reeder. "It has issues.
Reeder also considered upgrading PowerApps to get more features and external data connectors, but that would’ve been quite expensive.
If we're going to spend that kind of money, I wondered if there was something else we should be using,” explained Reeder. “We didn't make a move until we finished that research, and that’s when we found m-Power.
I knew instantly that it was going to be a great asset across the board. I started programming when I was 14 and have used 2 dozen languages. When I see how a piece of software works, I get a sense of how it was designed and the structure behind it. I could tell the people who coded m-Power were really sharp. The layout was so methodical, logical, and elegant.
When Reeder ran across m-Power, the low-code development platform from mrc, he realized it could solve the problem…and much more.
When we took a look at m-Power and saw everything it can do, we realized we could get rid of our PowerApps in SharePoint, explains Reeder.
m-Power offered Henley a few big advantages. First, it let them create all types of web applications, mobile web apps, and workflows over their SQL data. They could create custom applications and distribute them securely across all of their different locations.
Second, m-Power is licensed per database, not per user. Henley could create as many applications and have as many users as they need, without paying extra fees.
Third, m-Power allowed for unlimited customization. They could customize the front-end, add external business logic, and even integrate third-party tools. This means that Henley could create applications that perfectly fit their business needs.
There's not the level of customization in PowerApps that you have in m-Power," says Reeder. "Nowhere near it. But come on, I think that can be said of almost any other low-code environment. m-Power owns the space on customization in terms of how well it integrates into what you're doing and how easy you make it.
What they built
We’ve only had m-Power for a year, and had to ramp up a little bit. But, man, we’re on fire now.
One of the most impressive parts of this story is the number of solutions they’ve already created with m-Power, and it’s a credit to Reeder’s vision. He instantly recognized what was possible, and how m-Power could address many of their needs.
Here is a list of just some of the web-based applications they’ve built in just over a year with m-Power:
Environmental Health and Safety Checklist
For compliance purposes, Henley must complete an Environmental Health and Safety checklist every month. In the past, processing this data took 2-3 days due to throttle limits in SharePoint. Now that they’ve moved this process to an m-Power application running over SQL data, it only takes 5 minutes.
Uniform Ordering Application
Henley’s old uniform ordering application was hindered by data synchronization issues. Ordering a uniform for a new employee might get delayed while waiting for data to synchronize between their systems and SharePoint. With their new uniform ordering application built with m-Power, the data is real-time.
Fleet Management CRM
Henley has thousands of fleet customers–cars that are owned by organizations rather than by individuals. But they never really had a good CRM to manage these fleet prospects and customers.
Using m-Power, they built a custom CRM system that works exactly as they need. It includes some excellent time-saving features like:
- Workflow processes to automate follow-up and reminders
- Instructions that tell employees which services are allowed for each fleet driver
- API integration that pushes a contact from the CRM into Henley’s cloud-based accounting system and automatically creates their record
Non-Inventory Receipt of Materials
When a location orders equipment or product that is not part of the regular inventory maintained by the POS, this app allows the store to match what was received to the original order. The data is automatically matched to the invoice on the backend to ensure all billed product was received or back-ordered. The application uses m-Power’s responsive technology so that it will work on any mobile device. The store employee can check items off as they are unloaded from the truck.
Licenses and Permits
Every location is required by law to maintain a copy of all their licenses and permits. They must show them on demand if an inspector or official shows up for a routine visit. Additionally, many licenses and permits have to be renewed on a regular basis. m-Power has allowed Henley to centralize all these licenses and permits while giving instant access to any location when they need to produce the license or permit. There is a workflow that checks renewal dates and ensures that renewals are submitted on-time.
Document Management System
Their document management system provides a centralized place to manage contracts. It includes important information about each contract and even has a workflow to remind people when it’s time to renew contracts.
Lease Management Application
Henley owns a lot of the buildings but also leases many of them. Managing these leases was previously done by a couple of people using spreadsheets. That process has now been moved to the web with m-Power, which saves a lot of time.
Incident Management Response System
Henley also created a custom system to notify managers and insurance carriers of incidents. It’s a streamlined, web-based form that can be completed in 10 minutes and automatically emails management and the insurance carrier, when necessary.
One really nice part about this system is the fact that Henley integrated it with an open-source HTML-to-PDF generator. They wanted the generated PDF to exactly replicate the screen, so they found a tool that offered that capability. This speaks to m-Power’s ability to integrate with outside tools and software.
The amazing part is that this is just a partial list…and they’re still creating new applications.
We’ve only had m-Power for a year, and had to ramp up a little bit,” says Reeder. “But, man, we’re on fire now.
m-Power gives us the flexibility to really deliver something that is exactly what they were looking for.
Henley has certainly accomplished a lot in a short time with m-Power. But, the real story here is the value they’ve seen as a result. Overall, their use of m-Power has helped in a few important ways:
1. They’re building software applications that fit their business needs
With m-Power, Henley has a repeatable way to create applications that perfectly fit their needs. If a business unit needs an application, it’s quickly built and customized to their requirements.
m-Power gives us the flexibility to really deliver something that is exactly what they were looking for, explains Reeder.
This is an enormous benefit when compared to the alternative. If a typical business needs a software application, they’d have two options: Build it themselves or buy new software. Neither option is perfect. Building new applications from scratch is time-consuming. Purchasing new software means they’d have to find new software, pay new user fees, implement the new software, learn the software, etc...
If Henley needs a new software application or needs to automate a process, they have a better option. They build exactly what they need and deploy it in a matter of days or weeks. Because m-Power is licensed per database (not by user or applications) there are no extra fees–regardless of how many people use the applications.
The result: They’re delivering solutions that perfectly fit their user’s needs, and the response has been amazing.
People are very appreciative of the software because we’re giving them specific programs that make their lives more productive,” explains Reeder. “For three meetings in a row now, the person who’s responsible for safety in stores keeps saying how the incident management system is so great.
2. They’re delivering solutions quickly
Henley uses agile sprints in their development process. Using m-Power, developers quickly create basic applications and run them by users for feedback.
“We use a sprint method so that we don't do too much without showing it to the customer and incrementally making sure we're on the right track,” explains Reeder. “If we get to a certain point and realize we're on the wrong path, it’s no big deal. m-Power really helps because we can get things in front of a customer so quickly and with so little effort. Then, you don't have this inclination to say, ‘I gotta stick with this project. Do you know how much time I spent on it?’”
The result: Applications not only fit the user’s needs, but they’re also delivered quickly. They can create new applications in days or weeks, depending on complexity.
I received an email from marketing this morning,” says Reeder. “She's very surprised, because the time from when we identified the problem to when we provided them a working solution was a total of two weeks. They're using it now and are kind of blown away.”
3. They’re automating manual processes
As mentioned earlier, one of Reeder’s main goals is to get away from ‘human resource-intensive’ processes. He wants to get away from manual, paper or email-based processes and automate as much as possible. With m-Power, Henley is doing just that.
When you’re dealing with manual processes, there's very few products that you're going to buy off the shelf that you can just tweak, and all of a sudden it’ll fix your process,” explains Reeder. “So, that's where you have to build things. And that's where m-Power comes in.
Because they’re automating these manual processes with custom solutions, the business is more efficient. They’re creating applications that let employees move faster.
This case study should be required reading for anyone considering low-code. Here’s why: When most companies look at low-code software, they’re trying to solve a specific need. But, if they only view it through that narrow lens–as a solution for that one need–they’re missing out on everything that’s possible.
Henley is a great example of low-code done right. They’ve recognized what’s possible with m-Power and are taking full advantage. They’ve realized this is more than a tool for one specific need. It’s a different approach to solving all types of business problems, and they’ve done just that.
The most amazing part: They’re just getting started.