With no commissioned sales people, simple software implementation and fixed, open and transparent pricing, 123 Insight’s marketing manager, Martin Bailey explains how the company’s approach to delivering easy to use, affordable and risk-free software can make all the difference.
In an ideal world, anyone looking to create an ERP/MRP software solution must ensure that is simple to use, highly intuitive, yet suitable for companies of all shapes and sizes - and most importantly that it is affordable without excessive upfront costs and customisation fees.
Founded in 2000 in response to the fundamental flaws inherent in the traditional ERP/MRP selection and implementation process, 123 Insight says it delivers out-of-the-box SaaS ERP solutions to companies of all shapes, sizes and types. The system is known for its rich production features, as well as powerful connectivity and pre-built integrations with a variety of best-of-breed accounting solutions.
In general, what are the latest trends and demands driving aerospace customer requirement for your software solutions and why?
Digitalisation and traceability are the two biggest themes. ISO and AS9100 quality accreditations require robust systems for tracking and auditing. Businesses come to us because of one or more of three reasons: firstly, they are looking to implement an MRP system for the first time, they have a bespoke system - often written in-house - that is no longer supported, or their off-the-shelf system no longer meets their needs or is supported.
Each company’s needs are different, but in aerospace most of the focus tends to be on purchasing, stores and production – being able to predict requirements, auto-generate purchase orders, have visibility and correct valuation of stock and being able to plan production effectively.
With the price of raw materials fluctuating rapidly, companies want to be able to easily manipulate cost prices or price lists for customers. 123insight allows users to export data, tweak it in Excel and then easily re-import it. One of our customers used to spend one day every quarter entering prices for customers – now it’s done in 20 minutes!
Are you still surprised to see paper job cards, paper management of contracts and work schedules being used in customer facilities?
We still occasionally come across companies running MS-DOS systems! Although there may be a lot to be said for ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’, many companies are missing out on digitalisation because of fear of change. But implementing a new system doesn’t have to be as big an issue as some people may believe. We’ve actually streamlined the implementation process, and even provide a free book on the subject at our free online events.
What are the most important things a customer needs to know when specifying your products to best meet their tailored requirements?
An interesting question! Each department has an entirely different set of wishes, which is why we ensure that all affected departments are involved in the selection and implementation process. From an engineer’s perspective, their concerns will relate to the creation and management of Bill of Materials and routings - along with how data is displayed to staff - as items move through the workflow process.
In terms of training, is helping customers overcome a ‘comfort blanket’ attachment to their legacy systems a major obstacle?
That tends to dispel very quickly. We have a very educational approach, meaning that before a company has spent any money with us, they will have attended one of our Evaluation Workshops and six days of training. This is provided under no obligation, and if they don’t move ahead with 123insight, they don’t pay for the training. By the time they actually become a customer, they have not only satisfied themselves that the system will meet their needs, but they are also fully trained on how to use it. Also, during the implementation phase we allocate a dedicated ‘Implementation Mentor’ – one person who follows their implementation journey and who is always on hand to help them stay on track.
Do you feel satisfied that your customers leverage the full benefits of your products’ capabilities?
Every customer is vastly different. For some, the focus is on stock control and production, but for others the need for accurate data for costings will be their main driver. Pretty early on in the implementation process we will identify what areas of the software the customer will want to use from day one. Many will set a roadmap for when they intend to roll out other features, such as shopfloor data control. It would be difficult to put an average percentage of what functionality customers are using overall, but I would say that most customers are using a larger percentage of the system than, say, your average user does with MS Word or Excel, etc.
What do you feel are the most important assets of a company, and what differentiates your company from the competition?
With 123 Insight, I’d say it is the people. They define the (company) strategy and the (user) experience - both in terms of how the product is developed and how prospective customers engage with us - right through to implementing and going live. The entire 123insight philosophy was built around empowerment. As one of our customers once said ‘I get it – you are not trying to sell me anything – you are showing me what you have and allowing me to buy’. The biggest bottleneck for many manufacturers is perceived risk of failure for such a wide-ranging project. By removing all of the risk, we empower the customer to select and implement through a process of education. We have no minimum contract – our entire customer base can walk away every month.
What differentiates us is our ‘no-risk evaluation’ approach, the fact that our system is suitable for all shapes, types, sizes and styles of manufacturing, and the subscription method that includes the software, support and updates. Customers simply cannot get it wrong because if it doesn’t work for them, it doesn’t work for us.
Would you say that your long-standing partnerships have brought huge benefits, particularly as trusted relationships can lead to a better way forward for all?
Certainly. Customers appreciate our flexible licencing, where they can increase or decrease licence count on a per-month basis. This was really useful during the early days of the pandemic during the first lockdown. We actually saw an increase in some licence types, with companies reducing their general 123insight licences in favour of our 123mobile tablet-based licenses. This allowed shopfloor staff to socially distance by using their own personal, low-cost Android tablet to perform the functions that they used to do on a shared PC.
Finally, where to next for your company?
2021 was our best year ever for growth. We also took on two new staff and we were acquired by the Forterro Group in July 2021 too. This gives us access to many more resources from a group that comprises of 1,200 staff and €150 million turnover. We already re-invest a third of our subscription revenue into development, which allows us to continually release new features that customers want.