The Future of Docware [Interview]

Part 1: 30 Years - Review and Prospect

The series "The Future of Docware" is an interview with the management. In three parts we will examine the past, analyse the present and outline the future. With this interview, we would like to show our existing customers, partners and employees our appreciation and gained strength by working together. Thank you and give you an outlook.

In the first part of the series, we talk about the development of Docware over the last 30 years.

How has Docware changed over the last 30 years?

Hofmeister:

Basically and comprehensively. (Laughs) The changes are particularly evident in the increasing number of employees and customers. In addition, we are now specialised and focused on a core topic - interactive spare parts catalogues and service information systems - which was completely unknown to us 30 years ago. Thirty years ago, it was also a wish of ours to serve and Support international customers.

Deifel:

Mainly Docware has changed thematically by specialising in the management of spare parts. In the past, we wanted to offer a very broad spectrum. After focussing on the topic of spare parts catalogues, things were steadily improving.

1987 – 1990
1991-1994
1995-1999
2000-2001
2002-2005
2006-2011
2012 - today

1987 – 1990

Establishment and sales, training and Interleaf documentation system

Docware started in Germany as a major retailer and training provider. The initial software developments were made in the Interleaf environment. These were the most important source of revenue for many years.

  • 1987 Docware is founded by Mr. Hofmeister and Mr. Deifel
  • 1989 Software development in the Interleaf environment: Konverter, TEXTract, INput (Unix platforms)
  • 1990 First version of the document management system DMS, first in-house CRM/ERP: "DDB"

1991-1994

In-house development of document management system (DMS) 1 and 2

Expansion of know-how in the area of databases and client-server architecture

  • 1992/93 New version of the document management system DMS 2.0 and project orders with DMS
  • 1992 - 99 Expansion of broader customer base with approx. 50 customers - Docware is beginning to get known as a solution provider. DMS 2 becomes new revenue driver following the decline of Interleaf.

1995-1999

Introduction of the topic spare parts catalogues

Identification of market gap and development of first in-house electronic spare parts catalogue

  • 1996/97 Creation of the first Docware homepage and introduction of the topic electronic spare parts catalogues - failure of concept "external execution"
  • 1998/99 Start of in-house development of electronic spare parts catalogues: Gaining experience, entry into development with Delphi - better cost/income ratio with approx. 10 customers

2000-2001

Change of strategy: From document management to electronic spare parts catalogues

Early entry into market niche: Docware was the first provider of a high-performance standard product "Out of the box". With the E-Service Shop, the initial versions of the standard software for electronic spare parts catalogues, Docware acquired approx. 50 customers.

  • 2001 Development of PARTS-SHOP (shop software), which still exist today: B2B shop system especially for the sale of spare parts - suitable for medium-sized companies without their own shop solution; redesign to new technology base since 2014

2002-2005

Docware goes global

  • 2002 Start of sales outside the German-speaking world
  • 2003 PARTS Service Shop: Upgrade to professional solution as basis for international use and more challenging projects; Docware attains a client base of approx. 150 customers
  • 2005 First big contract from abroad

2006-2011

PARTS-PUBLISHER as market-leading standard product

PARTS-PUBLISHER provides the basis for implementing complex large projects

  • 2006 Docware becomes first sales partner of Lattice Technology in Germany (Lattice 3D XVL) and thus first provider of spare parts catalogues with XVL integration
  • 2010 Start of execution of online and offline catalogues (based on Java programming language)
  • 2011 Development of the Product Configurator - standard software for the configuration of products with many variants, suitable for medium-sized companies

2012 - today

25 years of Docware

Relocation of the company to Fürth (Kaiserstrasse) to new offices

  • 2012 Spare parts catalogues can now also be used on tablet PCs and smartphones
  • 2013 Release 6 of PARTS-PUBLISHER and PPSync - fully automated updating of internet catalogues and tablet catalogues
  • 2014 First version of Online Catalogue and Offline Catalogue, redesign of Parts Shop (shop software)
  • 2015 Expansion of Docware with new management structure and additional offices

Did the company influence you personally? And your attitude to work?

Jürgen Deifel
Geschäftsführer Docware GmbH

Deifel: 
I was very young when I became a managing director. Therefore, Docware has become an important part of my life. The process was long and stony, from not knowing what it means to have and run a company, to being aware of how much responsibility is involved and how to deal with it. For me personally, this was the strongest change over time.

 

Hofmeister:
Of course, Docware influences me every day in my work. I learn every day, whether technical, organisational or content-related. Docware also influences me personally. Decisions used to be made spontaneously, now decisions are planned, goals formulated and implemented accordingly. It makes a difference whether you are a 3-man company or whether you are responsible for 55 employees and their families. It is a completely different feeling.

How has the company developed over the last 30 years?

Hofmeister: 
We have grown from a one-man development company to a team of developers, product designers and business leaders. Our environment has also changed significantly in the last 30 years. Today, we support customers in complex IT environments, at that time we provided solutions in local environments. Today, we provide international solutions for customers worldwide that serve internal employees and thousands of users around the world with spare parts and interactive spare parts catalogues.

Deifel:
We were lucky that the market gave us time to develop. After Interleaf and DMS, we were able to approach the project interactive spare parts catalogues and establish ourselves as the market leader with PARTS-PUBLISHER. We were able to observe the growth of other companies and are now able to act strategically and adapt our internal organisation accordingly.

  • 30

    years

    … Docware has been developing software solutions which are customised to the individual demands of the customers.

  • 1

    basic programme

    Future-proof: Based on the in-house, modular standard software PARTS-PUBLISHER, Docware is able to develop special solutions for manufacturers, distributors, dealers and service partners of the manufacturing industry from all sectors.

  • 30

    years of experience

    Make possible reliable, solution-oriented process optimisation in the spirit of a partnership. Docware is familiar with the processes the customers require and can respond immediately.

  • 350

    companies worldwide

    Over 100,000 service technicians are satisfied users of the standard software PARTS-PUBLISHER.

  • 55

    employees

    With solid expertise and know-how in the aftersales service make up a successful team.

According to your customer survey, 93% of your customers would recommend the spare parts catalogue software PARTS-PUBLISHER. How satisfied are you with the results and what does this mean for you and the company?

graphics from customer survey

Deifel:
We are pleased about the positive feedback from our customers! Nevertheless, we always have to keep the quality of our software and services high and make sure that we are never satisfied.

Hofmeister:
For us this is a clear motivation to make significantly more of the 93%. We must remain in dialogue with our customers, because satisfaction is always a snapshot. The essential thing is that we continue to work on it. Customer satisfaction and service quality are key issues. We want all our customers tobe satisfied with our product and support. Our goal must be to meet the expectations of all our customers. A new customer survey is currently in progress.

How is Docware positioned in the market today?

Hofmeister:
The Docware GmbH specialises in the development of software solutions for the management of service and spare parts information for industrial companies in all sectors. We are in a global niche market for electronic parts catalogues and digital service information systems that does not have a global market leader.

Docware occupies a pole position as a market-leading provider. Because our software is an internationally proven and efficient standard product, which is recognised worldwide. The market for spare parts offers great potential, but there are only a few local competitors for Docware, so our market opportunities continue to be valued positively.

What trends do you see on the market?

Hofmeister:
The current trend topics associated with digitisation are relevant for our market and us. Especially Industry 4.0 with networked industry solutions and Internet of Things is especially exciting. In addition, there are the hypes around big data, cloud solutions, 3D print, augmented reality and the adoption of B2C requirements on B2B solutions, and this on all device classes. We accompany These trends with our developments based on available sustainable basic technologies. In this way we enable our customers to serve the trends in the current environment of our product.

Deifel:  
We try to give these "trend topics" definitions that can be implemented for us. This ensures that we serve these trend topics in an innovative and sustainable way, thereby actively shaping the market.

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