These sound like simple questions, but many integration companies have difficulty answering these inquiries with any level of specificity:
- Do you know which products are your most profitable from an equipment, labor and even cost-of-inventory standpoint?
- How many change orders do you generate per project?
- How often do you have discrepancies between your proposals and your sales orders?
While many integrators can point to a particular product with a high equipment margin as their highest profit-generator, they often have trouble dialing down to the specific dollar amount of profit. Using iPoint, Spire is able to hone in on the net profitability of every product the company installs, and use that information to create better proposals, generate upgrade opportunities, and manage technicians and inventory more effectively.
“The product history feature to the software comes in handy,” says Jason Bellanti, vice president, general manager and partner at Spire Integrated Systems. “Let’s say there is a new processor released for an existing product on the market. I can look back at the product history and every project in which we installed the old processor. I can analyze those previous projects for potential upgrade sales opportunities with the new upgraded component. I can also catch if there are pending projects in the pipeline where I have specified the old product, and immediately convert those to order the new one.”
Tracking Inventory Efficiently
Hand-in-hand with that product history information is inventory management.
“I like the inventory management the most because you can track a product history all the way from putting it into a proposal, converting that proposal to an approved sales order or a change order if something changes,” adds Bellanti. “Then we can track a product all the way through to which project manager requested the part to be ordered, who actually ordered the part, who received the part, who delivered the part to the job site and when it went out.
“Every phase along the way, we know exactly what happened with that product, and there are time stamps, date stamps and employee stamps that we can look at. There’s a certain level of accountability that the software brings, which really comes in handy,” he says.
Spire began using iPoint back in 2014 when it needed an end-to-end software solution to help manage every aspect of the business.
“We were really looking for something that we could use from the design and engineering phase, the beginning of the project, all the way to have a close-out punch list and finishing a project that included inventory management, invoicing, work orders,” says Bellanti. “The ability for the technicians to add electronic work orders was a really big thing for us because we were using paper up until that point. iPoint really opened the door to some additional possibilities for us.”
Sales Orders vs. Proposals vs. Change Orders
Spire Integrated Systems is a 25-person company that handles multiple six-figure projects at the same time. Bellanti estimates the company’s minimum job size is $80,000. With large projects the norm, it means there can be complex proposals and change orders.
“From an efficiency standpoint, one thing iPoint does differently is it separates proposals from sales orders,” he says. “The software is set up so that once you create a proposal, you can’t generate sales orders until the proposal is approved. You can ask for a client’s signature right through the software. Then, only certain employees in the company with the proper permissions can approve that proposal and turn it into a sales order.
“That locks it in. Only after it is locked in can you order or request a sales order for products. It really helps to reduce the number of errors and mistakes from the incorrect products being ordered while still in the proposal phase. I think that’s one of the biggest efficiencies we have experienced from the software,” he says.
Bellanti also likes the change order feature, which is link to a sales order.
“That is a huge increase in efficiency because we can easily track a change, whether it’s a zero-cost change or has a dollar amount associated with it. The software will automatically track the dollar amount that changes and locks it onto the software. Again, the software requires formal approval before anything can be done with it.”
He points to the formal approval process and e-signatures as one of the key processes Spire adopted because of iPoint.
“We basically demand an e-signature… and a monetary deposit… from the client before we will move forward. That formal process was a change in the way we did business,” he concludes.