Forterra is keeping Britain building with Salesforce.

 

Longer lead times. Higher material costs. Fewer skilled workers. The construction industry is facing increased pressure – not just from disruptive forces but also from a huge surge in demand.

As a manufacturer of building supplies, Forterra needs to find new ways to fulfil this demand – from investing in new factories and adopting new processes to tapping into new insights and embracing new technologies.

We talked to the team at Forterra about how digitalisation, automation, and integration are helping it adapt to greater market volatility and deliver richer customer experiences.

 

 
 
“With Salesforce, we can predict future demand and make more informed investment decisions.”
John Wyldbore
Head of IT Demand and Innovation
Forterra
 
 
 

1. Predict demand with more accurate forecasting.

From schools and prisons to offices and homes, Forterra is embedded in the fabric of Britain’s buildings. To support ongoing development, Forterra needs to provide customers with a steady supply of its clay and concrete products, which includes bricks, blocks, and paving products.

With Manufacturing Cloud, Forterra can develop more accurate revenue and volume forecasts based on customer opportunities and orders captured in Manufacturing Cloud. “We need to ensure we are sourcing the right raw materials and manufacturing the right products to fulfil customer orders,” said John Wyldbore, Head of IT Demand and Innovation at Forterra. “With Salesforce, we can predict future demand and make more informed investment decisions.”

Forterra is currently developing the largest and most efficient brick factory in Europe at one of its plants in Leicestershire. This will increase the company’s existing production capacity of 590 million bricks per annum by an estimated 22% by 2025.

With demand for bricks outstripping supply in the UK, Forterra needs to optimise the allocation of its product inventory across multiple sites and customers. By using the Sales Agreements and Rebate Management features of Manufacturing Cloud, Forterra’s commercial teams can compare a customer’s actual spend against predicted product volumes. This means any unused stock can be reassigned to a different branch or company and any volume discounts recalculated.

“We are committed to keeping Britain building,” said Wyldbore. “With Salesforce, we can support the growth of local communities and the delivery of infrastructure projects by getting the right products to the right customers at the right time.”

 
 

2. Enable seamless flow of information with stronger integration.

To achieve greater visibility of market demand, Forterra first needed to achieve greater visibility of its 300+ customers, which include building merchants and home builders. Although the company had deployed other CRM systems, it had never been able to achieve a 360-degree view across its different brands and teams. “We wanted a platform that would eliminate operational silos and enable a seamless flow of information,” explained Ryan Goodman, Salesforce Product Owner at Forterra.

The manufacturer has used MuleSoft to connect Sales Cloud with its JD Edwards enterprise resource planning platform. This provides its commercial teams with central visibility of customer opportunities, orders, and invoices. “Area sales managers can now give customers real-time updates during meetings instead of having to wait a couple of days for an office-based colleague to check information in our ERP system,” added Goodman.

As Forterra continues to modernise and standardise the systems used by its nine brands, which include London Brick and Ecostock, it plans to establish more integrations using MuleSoft. “We want to eliminate the need for people to log into multiple applications,” said Goodman. “With MuleSoft, we can take a more strategic and consistent approach to integration and ensure people have the information they need at their fingertips.”

3. Empower customers with self-service capabilities.

Easier access to richer information isn’t just an enabler for colleagues, it can also act as a differentiator for customers. “Expectations have changed in our industry; customers want to be able to access information anytime anywhere,” said Wyldbore.

To meet this expectation, Forterra has built a customer portal on Experience Cloud and Manufacturing Cloud, which provides real-time access to key account information, such as orders and invoices. “With Salesforce, we can blaze a trail in providing our customers with self-service features that save everyone time,” added Wyldbore.

For example, the portal enables customers to generate their own reports thanks to an integration with Salesforce’s CRM Analytics. This provides customers with valuable insights into their business, such as product buying trends at different branches, which aids decision-making.

To maximise the value of the portal to customers, Forterra wants to keep enriching its capabilities. For instance, it plans to use MuleSoft to connect the portal with its logistics system to provide customers with access to proof of delivery documents. This will help optimise Forterra’s billing process and improve cashflow.

4. Streamline procurement lifecycle with automation.

Digitalisation is at the heart of Forterra’s customer-first ambitions. “We don’t just want to meet expectations, we want to exceed them,” said Wyldbore. “We want customers to come to Forterra first and that means we need to optimise every interaction by eliminating as many manual processes as possible.”

By enabling greater integration and automation, Forterra can not only respond faster to customer requests but also provide a more connected experience across its multiple brands. “With Salesforce, our commercial teams can identify cross-selling and up-selling opportunities more easily,” explained Wyldbore. “If there are supply issues, they can recommend alternative products to help prevent disruption to construction schedules.”

When a customer receives planning permission for a new construction project, the details can be captured in Sales Cloud. This enables sales managers to proactively reach out and recommend relevant products. “We want to make sourcing building supplies as simple as possible for our customers,” added Wyldbore.

To support this goal, Forterra plans to accelerate the submission and fulfilment of orders by transforming how quotes are generated. “With Salesforce CPQ we can bring greater efficiency and consistency to the quoting process by eliminating the need for disparate spreadsheets,” said Goodman. Eventually, Forterra plans to use MuleSoft to connect Salesforce CPQ with its ERP system, which will enable orders to be automatically created once a quote has been approved.

5. Unlock greater efficiency and agility with ongoing innovation.

Forterra is at the forefront of building innovation and is constantly looking at new ways to provide customers with durable and sustainable products. For example, it is pioneering the introduction of versatile brick slips in the UK.

The company wants to apply these same pioneering approaches to its use of technology. “Salesforce will help us drive both operational and cultural change,” said Wyldbore. “It will enable our people to work faster and smarter by unlocking 360-degree visibility of our customers.” For example, once Service Cloud has been deployed across Forterra’s four contact centres, the commercial team will be able to see open support cases and customer queries.

The company is also looking at expanding its use of Manufacturing Cloud with support from Salesforce partner, CloudShift, and the Salesforce Professional Services team. “We want to manage our stock levels around the country more effectively,” said Wyldbore. “This will not only help to balance supply with demand, but also minimise the carbon emissions associated with transporting goods between sites.”

Operating sustainably is critical to the long-term success of Forterra. As part of its commitment to creating a better environment for future generations, Forterra has invested in a dedicated solar plant to help power its business. From 2025, the company will source 70% of its electricity needs from a solar farm, which will deliver annual carbon savings of 14,000 tonnes.

“We want to keep Britain building by finding new ways to boost agility, efficiency, and sustainability,” said Wyldbore. “With Salesforce, we can help our customers and communities build better foundations for a brighter future.”

 
 

For more information, visit Forterra.

 

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