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perspectives / Portfolio

When COVID-19 Forced the World to Go Remote, it Put the Agility and Resiliency of Global Supply Chains to the Test

Propel helped product leaders remain in control by making it possible to roll out product updates, enforce quality controls — and even onboard new suppliers — entirely in the cloud.

Salesforce Ventures
December 14, 2020

In early 2020, Formlabs was one of the first companies to get hit with unwelcome news: A new virus was spreading in parts of China, leading to unexpected closures of manufacturing facilities and severely limited travel. Suddenly, the company’s suppliers based in the impacted areas could not deliver components, putting the company’s entire production of 3-D printers and related products at risk.

While other companies were stuck in the mire of stalled supply chains, Formlabs found a way out. The company had recently transitioned its manual product lifecycle management and quality management processes to the cloud with Propel. Propel enabled Formlabs to quickly onboard new suppliers to its online product portal, where suppliers could remotely access critical information about products and components, including up-to-date specs, design files, and quality control requirements. Other electronics companies were scrambling to set up remote access, tracking down outdated files, and juggling feedback over email; but Formlabs was already in production.

At a time when companies all around the world are struggling to shift production to new facilities, update designs, and meet regulations for products — all while their teams and partners are working remotely — survival depends on seamless collaboration, smooth logistics management, and rapid flexibility.

“Business continuity and resilience across the value chain are integral parts of a strong growth plan,” says Ray Hein, Propel’s co-founder and CEO. “Propel helps companies realize long term product plans while quickly adapting to changing environments and unexpected events.”

Santa Clara, California-based Propel helps companies connect the people, systems, and processes necessary to create, commercialize, and service their products. Propel’s platform aims to be the single cloud-native product solution for the entire value chain. Compared to traditional on-premise solutions that require customized code, Propel’s platform is easy to configure and 70% faster to deploy — and because it doesn’t require a team of engineers to set it up or make changes, it’s easy for product teams to manage on their own.

When Imperative Care, a medical device maker for stroke victims, was facing shelter-in-place limitations, Propel helped the company stay productive. They had to go entirely remote and they were able to continue their entire product lifecycle, including R&D and quality controls — even as they scaled both their workforce and their product portfolio. Imperative Care uses Propel as its hub for all product data, complete with dashboards, reporting, approvals, workflows, change orders, contextual collaboration and training records.

Simplisafe, a wireless home security provider that has won numerous awards for its innovative products, chose Propel before COVID-19 changed the world. Shelter in place and travel restrictions were issued just as Simplisafe was deploying Propel. But the process continued without interruption, with the deployment and employee training taking place 100% remotely. Simplisafe was even able to remotely onboard its contract manufacturer in Asia, ensuring their entire value chain could collaborate on products using Propel.

“We don’t know what the future may bring, but we know companies need to be adaptable, mobile and self-sufficient,” says Propel’s Hein. “In order to future-proof your organization, you need to be prepared to shift suppliers, go-to-market plans and service providers with very little notice, and manage all of it remotely.”

The business community has learned to be prepared for anything. As we continue to adopt more cloud-based processes and march toward more complete digital transformation, we become both stronger and more flexible in times of change. We’re inspired by Propel’s customer success stories.