Autobahn is a cloud-based software solution that connects importers of cars with their dealers and customers.
Think of it as a B2B wholesale platform for cars. Better yet - Autobahn has solutions for all players in the value chain, offering car catalog and stock management for importers, lead generation, and offer-to-delivery process management solutions for dealers and back and frontend solutions for dealer webshops.
Autobahn describes themselves as a “state of the art sales platform for the automotive industry.” And rightfully so, we might add. Their customer list spans across a variety of importers and dealers of brands such as Citroen and Peugeot, Honda, Jeep and Mitsubishi, but also Maserati and Mercedes.
To find out how Autobahn utilizes the functionality of PDF Generator API in their processes, we spoke with Martti Kullang, Product Owner at Autobahn Technologies.
To start off, we would like to know what was the underlying problem or challenge you set out to solve that led you to PDF Generator API?
The sale of a single car involves generating a bundle of different documents - starting from the test-drive contracts and quotes for the potential buyer to sales contracts and booking/order forms for the importer. Also different pre-payment invoices, documents required for insurance etc. And this is excluding a ton of internal, process-related documents that are not shared with other stakeholders. Generating the templates for all of these documents used to be handled in-house, by our own developers, and entailed coding them in HTML. It was a pain in the ass, to say the least.
Let´s say a dealer wanted to add an additional field on their document. Previously, this called for a Jira ticket to be created, which would then - oftentimes a week later, depending on their workload - get picked up by the developer and implemented within a few hours. We thought there has to be a better way.
So we started looking for an external solution that could take this workload off our table, but also enable a more streamlined approach. And obviously - we turned to Google as the single source of truth on anything these days - and started looking for a document template editor.
Generating the templates for all of these documents used to be handled in-house, by our own developers, and entailed coding them in HTML. It was a pain in the ass, to say the least.
What kind of requirements did you establish for the service - which criteria did it have to meet?
Being a company that you would still classify as a startup ourselves, we didn´t really have any requirements that we set in stone. We obviously needed the solution to be able to support the main elements used in our documents - tables, photos, etc and PDF Generator API came very close already on the starting line. There are still some elements we would ideally like to have, but as with any SaaS solution - it is a work always in progress.
How long did the implementation process take? Was PDF Generator API a simple solution to integrate?
The technical implementation itself took maybe a couple of days. After that, we were able to proceed on our own, without involving our already-overloaded development resources. So initially, we started playing around with your product internally, and after a couple of weeks of testing, creating templates, and finetuning them, we released it to our customers.
How does Autobahn approach the currently hot build vs buy debate - how do you decide whether to build something yourself or integrate an external solution?
It boils down to your needs, resources, and volume. Since our document volumes are currently relatively low (about 5000 documents a month), we could not justify building a solution for this, and committing resources, ourselves. This might have been a viable solution if our volumes would have been 10- or 100- fold of what they are today and we would need to service hundreds or thousands of dealerships. But not at our current volumes. We take the same approach with the majority of services that are not a part of our core business.
We could not justify building a solution for this, and committing resources, ourselves. This might have been a viable solution if our volumes would have been 10- or 100- fold of what they are today and we would need to service hundreds or thousands of dealerships
When you do end up integrating an external service, how do you measure the benefits? How much time or resources has using PDF Generator API saved Autobahn?
It is very difficult, but one could come to a very-very rough estimate based on the number of different templates and average time previously spent on coding those in HTML. In addition to that, there are also support needs, etc. I would estimate, and this is a very rough estimate, that we could be saving at least 20-30h of work monthly. Developers are in high demand, so that adds up to significant financial savings as well.
Who makes the final decision whether to integrate an external solution?
Ultimately, this falls under my responsibility as CTO. I obviously consult others, but if something does break, I will be responsible.
Who do you think would benefit from using a service like this? Any specific sector or line of business?
I think that any ERP or MRP would gain a lot by implementing PDF Generator API. Also any e-commerce or CMS platform.
As you can see, PDF Generator API is truly a flexible product that adapts to the needs and requirements of its customers, regardless of the sector - independent of whether it is implemented on top of an existing stack or used as a building block for something entirely new. We hope these case studies will help anyone interested in ways to utilize PDF Generator API to further their own business to gain insights, examples and best practice in making the most out of the tool.