By Cassandra Balentine
Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions are powerful business tools in and of themselves. However, third-party tools offer niche benefits to propel business results for organizations looking to add more muscle to their CRM investment.
For example, TimeLinx Software offers compatible time and project management capabilities that integrate with popular CRM solutions, including integrations into Infor and Sage systems.
BW Papersystems (BWP), an operating company of the Barry-Wehmiller Companies, integrated TimeLinx into its existing Infor CRM solution streamline and automate time records, project expense processing, and gain valuable insight through business intelligence (BI) data.
BWP is a combination of four companies encompassing 12 brands that act together to synthesize manufacturing in the paper process industries. It operates under the names WillPemcoBielomatik, MarquipWardUnited, Kugler-Womako, and Curioni. Headquartered in Phillips, WI, BWP has 1,600 team members worldwide, seven global manufacturing facilities, and annual revenues of $430 million.
Before implementing TimeLinx, BPW was frustrated with its existing process of having its sales and service representatives email time and expenses in spreadsheets to managers for approval. In 2011, the company decided to do something about it.
Dave Carlsen, director of field service, North America, BWP, says the company faced several challenges with time records and project expense processes. For example, he explains that the process required photocopies of approved time and expense forms to be sent to multiple finance team members and time and expense data needed to be keyed into multiple systems. The company also experienced a slow velocity of invoicing, which resulted in a significant backlog. In general, the process lacked error proofing and easy access to real-time data and metrics.
BWP spent about a year understanding and documenting its needs and goals, investigating and piloting options, and testing in its environment. “There were not many options specifically geared for the field service market. We wanted to find a partner willing to support us with the same level of urgency that we work within. We knew any program we picked was going to require a significant amount of customization to fit our needs. Through several calls and in-person visits we identified the gaps and determined how they could be bridged. Throughout the research and pilot phases we also found many ways to improve the process even further,” says Carlsen.
TimeLinx was implemented in 2011, integrated into its CRM solution, Infor CRM. Carlsen comments that prior to a full rollout, they tested the solution in parallel with its old methods for approximately six months to validate functionality and identify anything that might have been overlooked during the planning and pilot stages.
The company initially implemented TimeLinx to a limited user base. However, they eventually decided to integrate their entire project management functions—including time and expense management—into the Infor CRM system. Through this integration, BPW could manage all of its customer equipment, installation details, and project data in one consolidated solution.
Carlsen says the most important thing they did was have its leadership work closely with the IT team throughout the project to assure that they maintained velocity and that questions, concerns, and ideas were reviewed quickly. “We would not have had a successful rollout without the collaboration,” he asserts.
Prior to the full rollout, BWP’s implementation team worked together with Timelinx representatives on several occasions to test varying complex scenarios, validate calculations, resolve problems in real time, and create a tool that did what they needed, but was also easy for the field team to use.
In addition to streamlined and automated processes, TimeLinx also brought BI to the table. The company utilizes this data to develop automated reports that are sent to other departments based on need; daily project statistics and revenue forecasting; monthly and quarterly reports for business unit review meetings; and comparisons of monthly, quarterly, and annual actuals versus goals and previous periods.
“We continue to find ways to utilize the information stored to meet the needs of the organization. Many of the reports are run by individuals when they need the data rather than through automated emails,” shares Carlsen.
In addition to the benefits a well-managed CRM solution offers, businesses like BWP leverage third-party solutions such as TimeLinx to provide a way to maximize the investment and bring new automation and insights into business operations.
Apr2016, Software Magazine