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Client in Profile: Steve Bagwell, Protexin

Name: Steve Bagwell

Title: IT Manager

Company: Probiotics International (Protexin)

VS: How did you find out about Vanilla Solutions?

SB: I’d heard about Vanilla on a number of occasions and as I was looking for some help I accessed the Vanilla website and viewed some case studies and news articles. I liked what other customers had to say so I made the call, and I’m so glad I did!

VS: We’re glad you did too! How long have we been working together and how did our relationship develop?

SB: Vanilla first came on site with us early in 2016 and the relationship began with Vanilla assisting with the lead-up to go-live. Vanilla showed us a deep understanding of IFS early on and you continually help us to get the best possible solutions out of it.

VS: So what’s the main appeal of working with Vanilla?

SB: Vanilla is an agile business with 20+ full-time consultants and you’re really responsive. Your team of consultants are easy people to work with, they fit straight in and they’re all accessible. We’ve worked with a number of the team and developed a really strong working relationships with them where they are happy for us to email directly and always respond as soon as they can. The Vanilla business model aligned really well with our own, sometimes we find that bigger businesses aren’t very flexible or respond too slowly.

VS: What have been some of the key IFS Projects we’ve worked on with you?

 SB: Our web orders was one of the initial projects. Protexin sells via Tesco and Amazon online and we wanted to connect those orders up to our IFS system. We required someone who really knew their stuff and Vanilla supplied the right people for the job. The project required Vanilla’s team to configure the Connectivity part of IFS in order to get an order through, process it and receive using a standard IFS connection.   This was really a key project for us. You’ve also assisted with our data migration which was really quite complex, and you’ve helped us to figure out the set up for Crystal reports. We’ve had a large amount of help from your development team who hold a fantastic skillset. You’re currently working on a new area of development with regards to our Lab information management system and you offer us a support package to compliment our vendor support, where we can ask you questions and you’ll do whatever we require, mostly remotely, but on-site if needed.

VS: I understand that you’re also benefitting from some of our products and services to compliment your IFS solution.

SB: Yes, we have recently installed NovaCura Flow and it’s changed our entire approach – it’s truly limitless. Flow now runs all of our production and some of our warehousing, with a view to it running all of our warehousing in the near future. Your team got our team set up with Flow instantly, and the knowledge share empowered our business. We’re also working closely with your BI department and we’ve had a large amount QlikView development. Your team have helped us to visualise our data much more effectively.

 VS: How would you describe Vanilla?

 SB: Vanilla have an incisive sense of business needs. They are cost effective, diligent, industry experts. All of the team are accommodating and flexible, the consulting team spend time preparing in order to understand the business and become attuned to it. They don’t raise unrealistic expectations and offer very effective program management.

VS: Thanks for your time Steve.

SB: Always a pleasure.

About Protexin:

Protexin is dedicated to producing innovative research-based products of the highest quality for animals and humans. Their belief is that nature is an ideal source of effective healthcare solutions and that applied research and understanding can harness these solutions to the benefit of both humans and animals. The natural healthcare and probiotic supplements they manufacture are extensively researched for safety and efficacy. They work closely with leading universities, hospitals and research centres around the world on a range of ongoing research programmes. Protexin manufacture in their own purpose built, state-of-the-art facility in Somerset, UK. This allows them to be completely in control of their product quality. All products are subject to the highest, accredited standards of production and quality control and they hold the following quality certifications; cGMP (MHRA), ISO 9001:2008, BETA NOPS, each of which involves regular audits to ensure standards are maintained.

About Us:

Established in 2009, Vanilla Solutions help clients to get the best possible return on their investment through consulting, training, support and products. With a turnover in excess of £2.5million, Vanilla Solutions continues to offer fundamental, independent services to users of IFS Applications. Whether an organisation is embarking on a new implementation, a business transformation program, or simply need some ongoing support, Vanilla have the extensive industry experience needed to extract the best value from investment in IFS Applications. Positioning themselves as part of the project team they provide clients with expert advice and the resources they require to make their chosen business systems work for them. Their consultants and technical staff are all employed in-house and sourced from a wide range of industries to bring a hugely diverse set of skills. This is evident by their broad customer base, ranging from large Aerospace & Defence clients to small manufacturing and service companies.  Vanilla Solutions also provide complementary solutions that enhance the functionality of their clients IFS investments and other software solutions they might use including Novacura Flow and Qlik.

For more information, contact:

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

Vanilla Solutions

abigail.ridgway@vanillasolutions.com

 

Skanska selects Vanilla Solutions as systems integrator for IFS Apps 9 Rollout

Vanilla Solutions is delighted to announce that it has been appointed by Skanska UK as systems integrator for the rollout of its IFS Applications 9 programme.  Skanska is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups, with the UK operation one of the country’s top contractors.

Skanska selected IFS Applications 9 to form the core of the ‘SkanWorks’ works management solution for its highways business. The SkanWorks solution will allow Skanska to achieve a largely common operating model across its various contracts and relies heavily on IFS’s Service Contract and Work Order Management functionality, in addition to some bespoke functionality and interfaces to 3rd party applications.

As part of the engagement, Vanilla were invited to review the operating model supported by SkanWorks, with a view to helping to ensure that it was ready to be rolled out.  We have also been working with Skanska UK’s internal business applications support team to provide additional capacity, support and knowledge transfer.

Now that the preparatory steps of the project are complete, Vanilla will be working alongside Skanska employees to roll out the SkanWorks solution across multiple contracts.  We will be providing consultancy, training, development and support services directly to the programme, as well as assisting Skanska with change management and project management.

For find out more about how Vanilla can support your ERP rollout, contact Abigail today.

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

abigail.ridgway@vanillasolutions.com

The next shiny software upgrade will make it all better – right?

The developed world is gloriously full of sparkly new things to tempt us.  On balance, that’s probably a good thing as we need consumer demand to keep our factories, shops and service businesses open and, in turn, keep us all in work and able to buy the sparkly new things.  I think you need to take care though.

A few weeks ago I was driving up the M5 motorway from one customer in Somerset to another in Lancashire.  I stopped off in the midlands to get something to eat and (somehow!) found myself outside the dealer of my favourite motorcycle manufacturer checking out the latest models.

One had active suspension with automatic anti-dive and a stability control system that detected how far over the bike was leaning and adjusted the braking accordingly.  Amazing stuff.  After a few minutes, a friendly chap in an orange polo shirt came out and asked me what I was currently riding.  When I told him, he was quick to inform me that the newer model had more advanced fuel management and a bigger petrol tank and that I’d be able to go about 20% further between fills.  For motorcycle touring, this is a fairly persuasive point!

As I stood there wondering whether to blow a big chunk of disposable income on being able to ride 20% further and have less, umm, ‘dive’ I got to wondering about all of the other technology we buy and specifically the Enterprise Resource Planning products that my company works with.

Our customers are under constant pressure, much of it self-inflicted I have to say, to upgrade to the latest versions and exploit the latest new features.  Of course, some of these new features can deliver enormous business benefit if used appropriately but the same is also true of the many unused features that reside in the older versions of software our customers already have.

In my working life, I would estimate that around 75% of my customers tell me that they’ve invested in complex and highly capable software but they aren’t really using it to its full potential.  The studies we do of their business processes generally bear this out.  These are often the same people and businesses who pressure themselves to upgrade.  After all, if you’re only using 5% of ERP 1.0 then it makes perfect sense to upgrade to the ‘20% more functional’ ERP 2.0 and only use 4% of that, right?!

I’m not saying for a second that we shouldn’t ever change our motorcycles or ERP applications.  Things like supportability, regulatory factors and those new features that really are perfect for your needs all play a part.  But I’d argue that the decision to upgrade shouldn’t be close to being your first recourse.

For less than the cost of an upgrade, you could retrain whole sections of your staff, carry out a process overhaul and identify those most in need of your attention. You could even add on some sparkly complimentary products to manage specialist tasks and deliver some change. Just think how happy the board would be at the savings!

Back at the motorcycle dealer, I eventually wandered off, driven by the distraction of hunger and a slight feeling of melancholy.  That night, after a bit of hotel-room internet searching I discovered an auxiliary fuel tank system for my bike that will increase its range by 25% and cost an awful lot less than a new bike.  It even came with a fun afternoon in the garage pretending to be a proper mechanic while I fitted it.

I’m going to use the money I saved to actually go to some exciting places on my bike.  There’s only so much time you can spend on the M5…

andy-blog

 

Andy Bell

Director

Andy started Vanilla, along with Jason in 2009 . Despite being something of an ERP ‘geek’ he is passionate about not complicating things and delivering what the client needs.

Andy likes to split his time between working with his customers on projects, running the business and supporting Abigail with new business development.

If you need Andy’s assistance,  click here to contact him today

Client in Profile: Phil Barratt, Mayerton

MayertonLongweb

Name: Phil Barratt

Title: Business Systems Manager

Company: Mayerton

phil1

VS: How did you find out about Vanilla Solutions?

PB: I met Vanilla at an IFS User Group conference in 2010. I was looking for some help with database problems and Vanilla were working closely with a specialist and referred us across. Vanilla weren’t IFS Partners at that stage but later became partners and then more recently left the Partnership Network

VS: That’s right. We thought long and hard about leaving the partnership but it was the right decision for us and our customers.  I think clients value our independence and benefit from the savings we make through not being part of the partner network

PB: That’s interesting. Yes, in my own personal experience I wouldn’t work with anyone else other than Vanilla, partners or not.  I was tired of the usual set up of being over-sold consultants with an array of expertise just to work on a menial task for whole days at the top rate, when in reality it really needed just a few hours. When we originally went live we spent too much on consultancy. It got out of hand.

VS: So what’s the main appeal of working with Vanilla?

PB: Knowledge, approach and cost.  My budget is tight and using Vanilla is wonderful as they work well within budget and if a job only requires a few hours they won’t quote me any more than that. The team are very knowledgeable and able to offer suggested solutions over the phone that I’ve never thought about. I love the approach. They don’t fiddle with the system. They use the tools that already exist, particularly the tools that lurk around at the dusty end of the tool box that nobody ever gets shown how to use.

VS: So do you think Vanillas main asset is their extensive knowledge of the IFS system?

PB: Not just that. They are honest about project estimates and costs. The enhancements we’ve had done by Vanilla were 200% cheaper than prices elsewhere. Vanilla work with what we have in terms of tools to save our cost. It’s a much better way of doing things as they don’t tread on IFS support. You’re just using what you’ve bought.

VS: What enhancements were you most impressed with?

PB: One of the best enhancements, excuse the geekiness now, is around purchase order receipt.  When you’re in IFS and you’ve purchased something and, for instance, you’ve got in the region of 100 purchase order lines and you’ve gotten to the stage where you want to move that into stock, you have to go to each line and move to application manually. We have some orders with 300 purchase order lines. It can take up to 2 hours. I thought, “Why can’t we have just one button that does it?” It’s obvious isn’t it if you think about it? If you’ve got a purchase order with multiple lines, then you want to receive the whole purchase order. So I called Vanilla and their technical consultant came onto site. It took just 2 days and he developed a simple application to do this. Now we’re saving so much time and, ultimately, money.

VS: Do you think Vanilla are quick to solve problems?

PB: If I wanted a bit of code, not to do the whole thing, your guys can very quickly give me that and you only bill for what you do. The key point for me is that I can buy 1 hours’ worth of help. It’s a very simple and straightforward process. To me, that’s the beauty of it. The whole team are seasoned, industry experts and that’s a great value. Vanilla pick only the people who are good enough to be under their banner.

VS: How would you describe Vanilla?

PB: I would describe Vanilla as ‘Phone-a-friend’ – I mean that genuinely. Every consultant I’ve ever come across have been responsive and they have consultants in all areas specialising in both technical and functional.  The entire company’s responsiveness is out of the park compared to anyone else.

VS: How long have you being working with Vanilla Solutions?

PB: I think I was one of their first customers, so 6 years. Vanilla are very prepared to make the little people feel valued and important. I pre-buy hours now as I did tend to call on their team as-and-when. It’s just easier to know that if I need them I’ve already dealt with the paperwork.

VS: Well, our theory is what comes around goes around so we treat all clients with the utmost respect and professionalism.

PB: Well, that’s very apparent. One thing I’ve noticed you do is to help put a face to a name. I like that you include pictures on your website and in newsletters so that we know who we’re speaking to. Your new marketing department has made quite the impact on Vanilla, especially your Christmas campaign!

VS: Any other comments?

PB: On a final point, I must say the Christmas gift this year from Vanilla was fantastic. It was perfect! If you’re going to give a Christmas gift, it needs to be good and you hit the nail on the head. I’ve still got your Christmas card on my desk. I’ve scanned it and I will be using it next time I do a PowerPoint; next time I do anything on lean. It absolutely sums up what Vanilla do, it’s brilliant.

VS: That’s very kind of you, thanks for your time Phil.

About Mayerton

Mayerton Refractories is a leading manufacturer of high quality castable and refractories brick providing refractory engineering solutions and service. Headquartered in Europe, Mayerton is active in over 50 countries, adding strategic value to the largest industrial Groups worldwide. Established in 1991, Mayerton has over 20 years’ experience supplying refractory solutions to the iron, non-ferrous and steel industries.

About Us:

Established in 2009, Vanilla Solutions help clients to get the best possible return on their investment through consulting, training, support and products. Recently announcing a £2.4million turnover, Vanilla Solutions continues to offer fundamental, independent services to users of IFS Applications. Whether an organisation is embarking on a new implementation, a business transformation program, or simply need some ongoing support, Vanilla have the extensive industry experience needed to extract the best value from investment in IFS Applications. Positioning themselves as part of the project team they provide clients with expert advice and the resources they require to make their chosen business systems work for them. Their consultants and technical staff are all employed in-house and sourced from a wide range of industries to bring a hugely diverse set of skills. This is evident by their broad customer base, ranging from large Aerospace & Defence clients to small manufacturing and service companies.  Vanilla Solutions also provide complementary solutions that enhance the functionality of their clients IFS investments and other software solutions they might use including NovaCura Flow and QlikView.

For more information, contact:

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

Vanilla Solutions

abigail.ridgway@vanillasolutions.com

Vanilla Interface reaches ¾ Million Transactions

Thompson & Morgan, one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies, needed to integrate their IFS system with their courier company Whistl, using the advanced carrier routing software Route Genie, to enable parcel tracking to the customers’ door. The Situation: After reviewing interface proposals from available service providers, Thompson & Morgan chose […]

New Employee Announcement

Vanilla Solutions Limited are delighted to welcome Abigail Ridgway as our new team member. Abigail joins us in the role of Head of Sales and Marketing.

Abigail will be managing both the sales and marketing departments at Vanilla HQ bringing with her some exciting ideas regarding ways in which we can improve customer support at all levels, and novel ideas to promote the Vanilla Solutions brand.

“I’m excited to be a part of the team at Vanilla, having worked within recruitment as part of the IFS Partnership network in my previous role, and having been met head on by the challenges my clients would face, I found Vanillas independence to be of great value to clients. Taking the role was a no-brainer really, the team at Vanilla are great people and the new position will allow me to use my creativity whilst still liaising with my valued clients. The business is led by technology and innovation, their consultants are all employed, making a refreshing change to contract recruitment.” – Abigail Ridgway, Head of Sales & Marketing Vanilla Solutions

Abigail comes to us from running a profitable start-up, Laridae Limited in Cheshire. Carrying a degree in Business Management and Marketing and Abigail currently holds 8 years’ experience within B2B Marketing. She’s worked within an array of different industries including the NHS, Digital Media and ERP, with a major client portfolio featuring Microsoft, BskyB, The Department of Health, NovaCura, VF Europe & Barclays to name but a few.

“It is Abigails’ job to find new clients, communicate the Vanilla brand and grow the business. We’re delighted to have Abigail on board and we’re excited to see what campaigns she has in store for us.”- Andy Bell, Director

Contact:

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

Vanilla Solutions

http://www.vanillasolutions.com

Abigail.ridgway@vanillasolutions.com

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