It is refreshing to see Evolve Business Solutions, a relatively new company, taking the bold step of adopting Vantage Online early in its development. Typically, in copy/print, companies will utilise manual processes when they are small and growing and will only look at bringing in specialised service management software when they are expanding and realise that manual processes are, at best, slowing them down and costing valuable time and, at worst, impeding growth by preventing staff from undertaking income-generating activities.
While it is a very positive step by Evolve when viewed at a macro level, it is worth looking at what benefits they are gaining and how it is likely to help their business. This is not a case of buying something before you actually need it, but more a situation where you can buy something now and reap the benefits, or wait until circumstances virtually dictate that you need to buy it. So, let’s look at what benefits Evolve are likely to accrue immediately or in the short term.
Perhaps the most high profile benefit is the automation of meter billing. Manual methods not only take up large amounts of time (3-4 person days per month are not uncommon, even in smaller companies), but can also be prone to errors. In addition, seamless integration to a finance system such as Sage or Xero, saves both time and effort within the organisation and also minimises the potential for human error in invoicing and therefore reduces the requirement to raise credit notes. Vantage Online provides smooth and seamless meter billing and makes the whole task of collection (via the chosen DCA), calculation and invoicing measurable in hours and minutes rather than in days.
Vantage Online will also deliver additional control and visibility on areas such as machine and contract profitability. The difference between perception and reality when it comes to assessing which customers / machines generate the most profit is often significant and Vantage Online enables users to rely on hard numbers rather than guesswork.
Monitoring of SLA performance is also an important aspect that Vantage Online delivers, both for internal “how are we doing?” purposes, but also for providing answers to customers’ “are you delivering on your service promises” queries. In short, it allows for customer service to be improved, monitored and documented, which keeps both suppliers and users happy. When you also consider the improved communication that users can benefit from, particularly in the areas of automated emailing of support tickets and sales orders, it is easy to see how Evolve will reap some benefits in the short term.
However, it is important to remember that Evolve are taking a long-term view and, as well as deriving these short-term benefits, they also know that other advantages will kick in over the longer term. Reporting is valuable to Vantage Online customers from day one, but the value of automating reporting really shines through over the longer term as copy / print businesses scale up. Users are able to show the value of true MPS reporting using one-click or real-time reporting, whilst also helping their own internal processes by keeping track of machines’ locations. In addition, the stock control functionality that comes with Vantage enables users to scale comfortably and keep tabs on what can rapidly grow into a complex and costly activity.
Evolve have the optimism and vision to grow their business, but they also, crucially, have the certainty over where they want their business to go and how Vantage Online can help to deliver that vision. These days, certainty over where a business will go is difficult to achieve, but foresight, such as that shown by Evolve, should go a long way towards making their vision a reality.