As one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in Iraq, Hawkary Pharmaceuticals relies on its sales team to develop relationships with doctors through face-to-face interactions. One sales manager found a way to do it better. By building business apps with Microsoft Power Apps, he could store data with Microsoft Azure SQL Database, visualize data through Microsoft Power BI, and improve communication through Power Automate. Using the apps, the company’s sales reps and their supervisors boost efficiency, home in on the best opportunities, and more accurately measure their performance.
The company has more than 100 field representatives responsible for reporting their activities—primarily meetings with doctors.
On a typical day, each Hawkary representative goes offsite to visit six to eight doctors. They follow up with their supervisor and manager by putting together a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with a basic recap of their meetings. For Alkhawaja, this means he receives more than 20 daily reports in his inbox every day—often with no follow-up.
When he does find time to sort through the emailed reports, the analysis across all of the spreadsheets is difficult and time-consuming. Even the document-naming conventions by his reps is complicated by inconsistencies. Says Alkhawaja, “We offer similar products as the other competitors, and they target the same customers. That’s why I have to keep up with the information from the market.”
He knew there were missed opportunities and learnings in the underlying data, but he had no easy way to sift through more than 20 daily reports to aggregate information and spot trends from more than 400 reports every month. Files could only be searched individually, so he struggled to get answers about even the most basic information. Essential pieces of data—like how many times the reps presented each product—were often inaccessible.
Alkhawaja started tinkering with Microsoft Power Apps in late 2016. Power Apps provides a fast, approachable way to build, customize, extend, and publish business apps to the web, iOS, and Android. As a self-described tech enthusiast, but with no formal training in software development, Alkhawaja would seek help from the Microsoft community forums in his spare time to get comfortable with Power Apps capabilities.
“Once I found Power Apps and experienced the ease and mobility it offers my team, I actually stopped looking for solutions in other places,” says Alkhawaja. This was around the same time Hawkary was recognizing the value in embracing more easy-access solutions.
Alkhawaja embraced his role as a citizen developer. He started developing an application that would help him create a full database of information that can be referenced and analyzed at any time and give his reps an easier way to improve productivity. Initially, he used Common Data Service to store data, which includes a set of standard data points that cover typical scenarios, but also offers the ability to customize. “My team doesn’t enjoy making reports,” says Alkhawaja. “There was no previous data to copy and paste, so filling out the typical Excel spreadsheet took between 30 to 40 minutes each day.”
He quickly created two apps as part of his Doctor Relationship Management (DRM) system. After moving to Microsoft Azure SQL Database, he combined them into a single app. His sales reps use the app to plan their visits and share their follow-up reports. (See Figure 2.) Hawkary supervisors use the app to view visit reports and provide coaching for individual sellers.
Alkhawaja chose to extend the DRM with Microsoft Flow and Microsoft Power BI. “With SQL Database, it’s almost one single environment,” he says. “We use Power Apps for the action, Microsoft Flow to automate the data, and Power BI for analysis—they interact seamlessly.”
He built flows to send notifications and reminders for sales reps to take actions when certain events occur, like when a new pharmacy is added to the system, when a report is due, and when a report is created in the system. And supervisors can keep tabs on each rep. If a rep sent yesterday’s report, the DRM would send an automated receipt confirmation message. If not, it sends a reminder email. Another flow sends supervisors an email when a rep submits a report. “Previously, we didn’t do anything like that,” says Alkhawaja.
Supervisors use Power BI reports to better understand sales rep productivity, product performance, customer prioritization, and other related analyses. Alkhawaja designed the DRM to store all business application data in SQL Database. This makes it easier to trigger flows, build new Power Apps apps, model data and build Power BI dashboards and reports, and maintain appropriate levels of internal privacy and security.
Now, prior to visiting a specific doctor, individual sales reps can easily see the team’s history with this doctor. The app clearly shows them when the team last visited and if there are any special requests or feedback that needs to be addressed.
Ahmed Naif Ali, Hawkary Pharmaceuticals Company Marketing Supervisor in northern Iraq, says, “With the app created in Power Apps, we’re getting more information, more easily. We don’t waste a lot of time. We know exactly where our work is every day. We know what happened in the last month, and what may happen in the future. It’s a very effective tool.”