R4 Services & ASI prove partnership is good for business
The choices made by a RIM services company regarding its software can literally mean the difference between a business triumph and a business fail. This case study demonstrates the success Chicago-based R4 Services was able to achieve through its relationship with ASI. It is also a powerful example of the value gained when clients forge partnerships with their vendors versus simply managing the vendor relationship.
Opportunity: A large box client prospect (approx. 150k total boxes) releases RFP for RIM services.
Challenge: The successful vendor would have to establish that it meets an extensive list of items required by the client prospect, or could demonstrate to the prospect’s satisfaction, that they would be able to accomplish these critical items.
Process: The bid process between R4 Services and the prospect (now client) took place over nine months. In a comprehensive 150-page RFP, the prospect outlined very specific needs. It included a thorough description of past issues/mistakes to ensure these were understood by vendor respondents and would not be repeated.
Working side by side
Having received the RFP response from R4 Services and with only a few days’ notice, the prospect requested a tour and meeting to review a laundry list of questions. R4 Services President and CEO Trisha Rooney contacted ASI President & COO Scott Bidwell, asking if he might be able to attend the meeting in person. Without hesitation, he traveled to Chicago to offer his expertise and support. According to R4 Services General Manager Greg Smitas, Bidwell contributed greatly to the meeting. He also added his expertise to subsequent meetings and software demonstrations with key prospect representatives.
Says Smitas, “That’s just one of the things about ASI; we’re able to get hold of Scott – really anyone. We love that.”
Working side by side with R4 Services, Bidwell walked through the facilities, discussed scanner technology and delivery verification functionality, outlining how the technology would address the needs as defined by the client prospect. There were several conference calls between R4 Services, ASI, and the prospect to identify the software functionality required to meet their needs – plus a bit of brainstorming between ASI and R4 Services to identify others.
The most significant requirement outlined by the prospect was the need for three levels of verification. It was also important to the prospect that they be able to incorporate their workflow into the records management program. Without it, R4 Services wouldn’t be awarded the contract.
ASI’s development team responded quickly. They designed enhancements to VCKweb.NET’s verification system to incorporate the required three verification levels – User, Supervisor (Dept. Head), and Administrator. Smitas uses the Amazon analogy to describe VCKweb.NET’s verification functionality, stating that it works much like a shopping cart with a user ID. Only the user can see his/her department records or “cart.” No one sees what’s in the cart until the user selects the action to be taken and approves it. From here, the request goes to the next level. Email notifications alert the user when a supervisor and/or administrator has approved or rejected an action, providing an integrated system of checks and balances.
The prospect also wanted unlimited data entry fields that could be customized by department or business unit with combo boxes, ability to reject user requests and track, etc. This enhancement was already underway, though the requirements outlined within the RFP contributed to the end result. Not only are data fields able to be customized, they can be done so by department as well. Input screens can even be changed at the file level. The client is also put in control of their screens and data fields. They do not have to be driven by R4 Services or by logging a support request to ASI. From an enterprise level, it is still manageable. Scanning and verification capabilities also factored into the final decision. Again, ASI delivered.
The competitive advantage
“We were being compared with companies that could do these things, as well as some that couldn’t meet the requirements at all, so the bar was really high, ” says Smitas. “We felt it presented an opportunity to not only secure this client, but other customers, which brings me to our competitive advantage. With ASI as our software partner, we have the ability and are willing to provide custom solutions for our clients. It’s one reason we value our relationship with ASI. We can go to them and say ‘How can we get it done?’ and they work with us to develop a solution.”
R4 Services Senior Sales & Account Executive Anne Stern says that the prospect awarded the contract to R4 for software and service, contingent on a one-year trial period with the enhancements to ensure the deliverables were working to everyone’s expectations. A key factor that contributed to their decision was the communication and trust built by R4 and ASI.
“We truly had to put our money where our mouth was and offer to move the boxes for free after one year if we did not do as outlined in the contract,” says Rooney. “The development of the software and the (now) client’s records management program is always evolving. While we’re excited for the opportunity, we can really celebrate when we are past the one-year trial period.”
R4’s commitment to their new client includes software training for over 500 employees. R4 also trains employees, in conjunction with the client’s records administrator and law department, on the program’s policies and procedures. It is truly a team effort to develop a comprehensive records management program. In this phase, ASI continues to support R4 Services with open lines of communication and by being responsive to tweaks/fixes as needed.
Says Rooney , “We’ve worked with ASI for over fifteen years and have an outstanding relationship. They are always physically and mentally there to help us get the job done. We can talk directly to owners and senior management. In my opinion, this service attitude, coupled with a great product is a home run for our clients. It’s hard to find that combination in today’s marketplace. You usually get one or the other – rarely both.”