IBS Bürosysteme began life in 1966 as a sole proprietorship selling supplies, equipment, furniture and services to offices. With the rise of the service economy, the services side of the business has steadily overtaken the products side. Today, although the company continues to sell printers and copiers in the traditional manner, managed print services (MPS) is by far its biggest revenue stream. With print in decline, it has also branched out into electronic document management and workflow automation, selling software such as DocuWare.
What has helped IBS Bürosysteme transition from products-oriented to services-oriented and evolve into more than just a print provider is its field service management system, Evatic. Evatic is an Asolvi product designed to help MPS providers grow and diversify by organising their data, optimising their processes and enhancing their communications with employees and customers.
For many years IBS Bürosysteme was aware of Evatic and what it could do. In 2011, under pressure to improve its efficiency and level of service in line with the changing market, IBS Bürosysteme decided it was time for a major operational upgrade.
For this case study we interviewed Olaf Isfort, CEO of IBS Bürosysteme. We talked about how and why his company decided to implement Evatic, and how things have changed for the company since Evatic went live.
Embracing the IoT
On the old system, none of the printers that IBS Bürosysteme was charged with managing were connected to the back office. The Evatic implementation helped IBS Bürosysteme transition to the Internet of Things (IoT), a key stepping stone for MPS providers in the modern era.
“Before Evatic, we were flying blind,” said Olaf. “We used old software to manage our machines, but the software wasn’t linked to them. We weren’t able to scrutinise the performance of each machine because none of the data we had was capable of being analysed in real time.”
Olaf explained how IBS Bürosysteme had to get the data it needed from its customers the old-fashioned way. It had to contact customers by letter and phone to ask for meter readings, while toner replacements were triggered by customers notifying the company that they’d run out. The company had to manually keep track of the total number of copies a machine was printing to know when a drum needed replacing, i.e. by looking at spreadsheets. It would also have to do this to monitor warranties, service history and repairs, and service level agreements. It was, naturally, a slow process.
Implementing Evatic meant that the printers in IBS Bürosysteme’s fleet became connected assets that Evatic now monitors remotely. Meter readings are collected directly from each machine and fed back to Evatic. Rules about drum lifespans, warranties and service levels are written into the system so that Evatic can notify IBS Bürosysteme to take action when necessary. No longer does IBS Bürosysteme have to rely on phone calls, emails and multiple disparate spreadsheets to do invoicing and contract management.
“Thanks to Evatic, 70-80% of the 4,200 machines we have in our fleet are now managed remotely,” said Olaf. “We are hoping to get this up to 95% by the end of 2019.”
The benefits of better field service management software for office print
The remote processing of meter readings by the Evatic system has enabled IBS Bürosysteme to dramatically reduce its invoicing times. Olaf explained how it used to take 1-2 weeks per contract to complete the invoicing process. The company would fax a letter to the customer to ask for the copy count. If it didn’t get a reply back, it would have to phone them. For all the printers that are now connected to Evatic via the IoT, it takes a few seconds. One-click invoicing is standard.
Arguably the biggest benefit for IBS Bürosysteme has been the optimisation of toner replacements. The company had no visibility of customer toner stocks before, and would send more cartridges as soon as customers telephoned to say that they’d run out. Since IBS Bürosysteme wanted to make sure that none of its customers would ever be without printing capability, it would also deliver extra toner when its couriers happened to be in the area.
Olaf said, “There was nothing particularly efficient about the process and, in a lot of cases, customers ended up with too much spare toner. This led to wastage—customers replacing cartridges before they were really empty.”
But Evatic changed all this. Evatic uses in-built business logic and IBS Bürosysteme’s contractual setup to automatically calculate the ideal time for cartridge replacement. It also enables IBS Bürosysteme to save on shipment costs by automatically combining shipments when several toners are required at the same location.
“We now deliver toners just in time,” said Olaf. “This is a great benefit of Evatic and has allowed us to eliminate toner wastage—the biggest cost in our contracts. When we deployed Evatic, we were also able to reclaim all the spare toners we had over-delivered. We saved at least €20,000 worth.”
Faster workflows, speedier data
One of the reasons Evatic has made IBS Bürosysteme so much more effective is by streamlining its employee workflows. In the back office, everything is handled in one user-friendly and paperless system. Olaf revealed that the reduction of manual labour involved in invoicing and toner replacement is saving IBS Bürosysteme 45 hours per month, making an approximate annual saving of €24,300 per year.
The company’s engineers now use Evatic Mobile to complete service reports, scan parts, obtain customer signatures, and access live information about jobs, contracts and machines in the field. Olaf explained that there used to be a lot of telephone communication between engineers and back office staff. Now that engineers have everything they need on their mobile devices, there’s no need. Spending less time on the phone with engineers has allowed the company more time to talk to its customers.
In addition, IBS Bürosysteme now enjoys speedier, more visible data. It is, for instance, much easier to see what each of its engineers is doing at any one time. “We can see where they are, when they started the work, and when they finished it,” said Olaf. “They don’t have to call us to say they’re finished. The data is fed to us in real time via Evatic Mobile.”
Olaf revealed that Evatic’s automation and mobility capabilities are saving IBS Bürosysteme 30 minutes of manual labour on every service project. With IBS Bürosysteme’s 12 engineers undertaking about 40 jobs daily, time saved per day is in the region of 20 hours, making an approximate annual saving of €216,000.
A platform for growth
Evatic is not just making IBS Bürosysteme more profitable by saving the company money. It is enabling it to do more with less. Since Evatic went live, IBS Bürosysteme’s staff have remained stable while its customer base, machine base and the portfolio of services it offers has expanded vastly.
Olaf explained, “We’re no longer daunted by taking on extra work—because the system does so much of the work for us. And having such a strong, stable service management system has also made it easier to add non-print-related services to our portfolio, such as DocuWare.”
Olaf is positive about the future relationship between Asolvi and IBS Bürosysteme. He concluded our interview by saying, “I’m really interested to see where Asolvi goes next. I know they’ve been acquiring software providers in the office print industry and this can only be a good thing for companies like ours. I think we’re going to start seeing even more benefits going forwards.”