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January 25, 2024
Updated: February 20, 2024

Case Study: Rabobank Accelerates Innovation with ConvertCalculator

Rabobank's Game-Changer: How Rabobank's innovation team transformed their Excel model into a successful live app in just 3 weeks with ConvertCalculator.

Innovation teams are on the clock to beat time and budget constraints and test product viability so solutions can be validated and brought to market ahead of the competition.

Outsourcing can be like driving with the handbrake on—a lot of tyre spinning and smoke before headway is made, especially for complex projects like app creation which involve developers and numerous iterations.

Read on to find out how Michiel Esveld and his team created a functional app in 3 weeks. Remarkably achieving this feat while bypassing developers and keeping it all in-house.

Background

Rabobank, the well-known bank founded in the Nederlands and now grown into a global financial services provider, maintains its roots in agricultural banking and cooperative principles with an emphasis on sustainability.

Michiel Esveld is a project team lead within the innovation department. His team currently focuses on initiatives that promote Rabobanks financing products to companies involved in energy transition projects. Their current project is for companies looking to transition their trucks from diesel to electric.

Following Rabobanks' Innovation Roadmap (image below), Michiel and his team are working through the steps to bring a solution to market as fast and cost-effectively as possible.

Problem Validation Phase

Through an extensive interview process in the Problem Fit stage of their Innovation Roadmap, Michiel's team identified that one of their customers' main problems was the difficulty with calculating the total cost of electric truck ownership as opposed to diesel—including transition costs.

To validate this problem, they built a tool in Excel that allows users to make a tailored calculation of the major costs of transition for their own business and educate themselves on the major factors involved.

They took this calculation model out on the road. It garnered an enthusiastic response, with users requesting the model be made publicly available online.

Solution Validation Phase

This moved them on to the Solution Fit stage. They needed to test if their solution was going to be valuable to stakeholders.

As part of a large enterprise, they also needed to bypass solutions that involved the typically complex approvals process normal for large enterprises that can slow down or even block initiatives like this.

Challenge

Michiel's team needed to upgrade their complex diesel to electric cost comparison Excel model to a user-friendly yet sophisticated online application. They needed a solution that was:

  • Able to translate complex Excel models into apps (without paying developers).

  • Cost-effective.

  • Time-efficient.

  • Capable of allowing fast iterations for continuous development.

  • Easy enough for their in-house staff to use

They knew custom software development was prohibitively expensive, time-consuming, and inflexible for iterative development. They needed to find another solution.

Michiel's objective was to find a way to efficiently convert their Excel model into a functional application for generating leads and facilitating fast market validation--- without incurring the high costs and time constraints of custom software development.

Solution

Michiel discovered ConvertCalculator—a no-code, low cost, professional solution.

A colleague of Michiel, inside Rabobank, recommended ConvertCalculator as their team had already used it to build a successful prototype for an initiative related to potential earnings in a dairy pilot program.

Michiel was initially skeptical as the Excel model they had created was extremely large and contained hundreds of variables with complex calculations.

However, using ConvertCalculators Concierge service (a build-it-for-you service offered by ConvertCalculator), Michiel and his team had a live working app created for them within just 3 weeks!

The alternative, custom software development, would have taken at least 3 months to have just the first operational version!

The brilliance of the app is that it provides results to users in real time.  The app includes a form where visitors answer questions related to their setup and needs. This is the scan part of the app. Then there is an output page, learning materials to educate users on the various degrees of electrification, and a detailed personal pdf report available via email as the last step of the process.

So customers can change parameters and work with the app to educate themselves on how a conversion solution could be structured and the key points they need to be looking for when switching their trucking energy system.

"From the app, users get a great deal of information about what electrification can mean for their business without needing to consult with expensive external experts," says Michiel.

At the same time, when visitors click on the button to download their PDF report, they become a highly qualified lead for Rabobank. Having self-qualified during their app interaction, they are ready for the next step.

Michiel and the team are now working on form testing, finding out where users drop off the form to improve form completion rates. They are also refining the integration of the leads process with their sales team's manual follow-up procedures.

Next, they will promote the form using email campaigns and one-on-one conversations and outreach. Taking it to a minimum of 1800 users to get enough substantial data on their initiative before pushing it to a larger volume of people.

What’s next?

The great news is that Michiels' team has now validated their Truck Energy Conversion Initiative and passed it on to their business team.

The business team is promoting the app on a larger scale. Enabling them to help scores of businesses educate and prepare for the transition—while setting themselves up as leaders in the space and building their list of potential clients.

Michiel and his team plan to move on to other sectors with large energy consumption needs, such as manufacturing, construction, and warehousing.

Smooth Sailing or Rough Sea?

ConvertCalculators learning curve…

At ConvertCalculator, we take great pride in the app we have developed for Rabobank. The RaboElectric application serves as a remarkable example of what can be achieved using our no-code tool. Historically, the apps built with ConvertCalculator were not as sophisticated as the RaboElectric app.

During the app development process, we faced challenges converting the Excel calculation model into the app. The model contains numerous interconnected variables, which presented a unique challenge.

As a result, we had to redesign our calculation interface to better align with the development process. This unexpected hurdle proved to be quite challenging. However, it provided valuable insights into enhancing our interface to better accommodate complex applications.

On a positive note, our application successfully handled the intricate calculations while maintaining excellent performance. A second challenge was integrating different views into a single project. This included the scan, results page, contact forms, and the system explainer.

Since our visual builder uses conditional show/hide logic to display and modify the interface, the elaborate projects become complex, which can affect the stability and maintainability. However, this build motivated us to introduce new functionality that makes achieving the desired features easier and improves maintainability.

So no, it was not all smooth sailing, but we were able to quickly learn, adapt, and execute to overcome the challenges thrown at us. We now have a stronger platform with greater functionality with which to move forward.

Bas Hennephof
Co-Founder ConvertCalculator

Does your enterprise need to convey complex information to your clients in a simple, sophisticated online app?

Contact us for more information on creating innovation models with ConvertCalculator.

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