Sep 2010 - Voyage of Discovery at 2B Interface
2B Interface is a five year old staffing and recruitment agency specialising in providing skilled temporary staff to UK companies – either as individuals or in contracted teams. The company has also grown dramatically over the past couple of years and its existing systems have not scaled to meet current business needs.
With hundreds of contract workers on its books and an ever growing client base, it quickly realised it needed an efficient and effective records management system. It identified the need to route calls in and out of the agency far more effectively, integrate call records within its own customer relationship management system and link both front and back office functions.
So it took the decision to design and implement its own bespoke IT system linking front and back office functions integrating VoIP unified communications to future-proof its investment.
Founded by successful businesswoman, Beatrice Bartlay, 2B Interface originally provided EU nationals for roles such as woodworkers, metal workers for the UK shop fitting industry, broadening the range of skills required to meet increasing demand. Most were employed directly by the agency and supplied by contractors, overcoming any reluctance by UK companies to employ foreign nationals themselves.
From first supplying individual staff the agency grew as employers began asking for complete contract teams, with 2B Interface taking responsibility for maintaining team numbers and in some instances, providing their accommodation.
In common with many organisations in the recruitment sector 2B Interface is in regular contact with both potential and existing customers as well as its own workforce.
As a contract agency it has always had a large number of people on the payroll and they are regularly called at all times of the day and night, as is common with many other recruitment agencies.
In addition, as 2B Interface has grown its client base it has also expanded not only in terms of numbers, but also in relation to the amount of data being held on them.
Beatrice Bartlay explained: “With hundreds of contract workers on our books and an ever growing client base, we quickly realised we needed an efficient and effective records management system. We identified the need to route calls in and out of the agency far more effectively, integrate call records within our own customer relationship management system and link both front and back office functions. This was no easy task!”
2B Interface has also grown dramatically over the past couple of years and its existing systems have not scaled to meet current business needs. Furthermore, 2B Interface had already invested in a number of mission critical business applications – including Sage Payroll – that it needed to maintain as a crucial legacy system.
Solution and Implementation
Beatrice Bartlay explains further: “We had looked at a number of solutions on the market and what was plainly clear was that there was no single solution; nothing could address the business needs we faced. In our ideal scenario we needed to protect our investment in legacy systems while at the same time move the business forward with a solution that could grow with us.”
2B Interface reviewed a number of options on the market and after a period of detailed evaluation took the decision to develop a bespoke solution based on best-of-breed technology and suppliers. 2B Interface itself would design and drive the implementation around its own needs, with hardware, infrastructure and telecoms support from Power Computing and Integra ICT.
Bedford based Power Computing was selected by 2B Interface for the supply of branded hardware and infrastructure components. Power Computing has worked with 2B Interface for over two years and has built up an enviable reputation in that time, having developed a stable hardware environment to support the business’s Windows-based platform.
Integra ICT was selected to install and roll-out a new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony system. VoIP is the routing of voice conversations over the Internet or any other IP-based network.
Marcin Jamroz, marketing manager at 2B Interface added: “Power Computing worked with us to identify the best hardware and infrastructure configuration to meet the needs of our business. But this was not the whole solution. It was absolutely vital for us that we had a future-proofed telephone system that could be routed to the correct office staff at any time of the day no matter where they were based. Furthermore, we also had to find an effective records management application that could be integrated into not only our legacy systems, but also into this new VoIP based system.”
Power Computing CEO Michael Ianiri stated: “We have a long standing business relationship with 2B Interface so when they approached us to help with the design, implementation and roll-out of this bespoke project we were naturally delighted. For us the challenge was to help identify best-of-breed solutions that could be integrated seamlessly into legacy systems and yet deliver a solution that future-proofed the investment being made.”
2B Interface led the integration team comprising of both Power Computing and Integra while it conducted an extensive evaluation of available options. It finally settled on Voyager, a Windows based fully integrated, end-to-end recruitment application.
“We selected Voyager Mid-Office and Commercial because it represented to us the most effective solution to our business need. There is no doubt that in this industry the link between back and front office applications can sometimes be weak and error-prone. From timesheet processing to commission calculations and margin reports by client or placement, all are vital and paper based records are time consuming, often open to error and never available in real-time,” stated Marcin.
“Installation is almost complete following a two month roll-out programme. Given the sensitive nature of the data we are holding –including individual workers and client banking and financial information – we are currently soft testing the system for a further few months before we go for a hard launch. It will have taken six months in total and we are convinced we will get a return on investment within a further six months.”
From the outset one of the biggest benefits of the new VoIP telephone system is that any incoming calls can now be automatically routed to a VoIP phone, regardless of where that number is based geographically. For 2B Interface this means that calls can be directed to the best person to answer a query – be it a question over chemists from a worker, to a contract and invoice query from a client. Individual numbers have been allocated to both clients and the workforce to ensure that separation is maintained.
The new VoIP based system is also fully redundant ensuring that at all times the telephone lines are up and running. This critical functionality has ensured that 2B Interface has an effective business continuity solution in place.
Improved customer and employee relationship management is one of the biggest benefits already experienced by 2B Interface.
Beatrice continued: “We used to have problems when we took on a new consultant, particularly with passing on information and accessing previous communications and history, that’s no longer the case. Although Voyager provides you with a vast amount of information, it’s very intuitive and all the information is on one screen which is great.”
“Voyager enables us to record our activities in detail and share this information across the company. Each of us now has full visibility of what’s happening. This means that when candidates phone in, anybody can talk to them, confident in the knowledge that the information on the system is up to date. We’re therefore working a lot smarter and providing our candidates with a much better service - that’s important to us,” stated Beatrice.
The Autoskilling and search facilities have proved to be highly useful for 2B Interface. Voyagers functionality means that recruitment staff can now find candidate CVs fast, and these are CVs that may have taken days to pull out and find using the old system. The new system can also scan in all CVs 2B Interface now receives, capturing all pertinent information such as date of birth, occupation, skills and experience, creating a bespoke record of that candidate. 2B Interface can now interrogate the database when it is looking for candidates for temporary or permanent contracts.
“We are already seeing improved levels of productivity, lower operational costs and increased visibility. When someone rings in our recruiters are automatically directed to their records be it a client or a member of our temporary staff.”
“Furthermore, integration into our Sage payroll and billing system is also dramatically reducing our operating costs. We are now able to automatically issue contracts to our clients as they are on the phone, all T&C’s are immediately posted out and a full record is kept of who has worked where and when.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most advanced systems created for our industry. We have not only delivered incredible cost savings throughout the business, we have maximised the investment in our legacy systems while improving our own business processes. And all within six months and a return on investment within another six months,” concluded Beatrice.
“For a company of our size this level of investment was necessary for us to take the business forward to the next level. Working in partnership with Power Computing has delivered a solution that is right for us and there is no doubt in my mind that we could not have delivered the system without their dedication and support.”
General notes about 2B Interface
2B interface is a five year old staffing and recruitment agency specialising in providing skilled temporary staff to UK companies – either as individuals or in contracted teams. The business is run by a successful businesswoman, Beatrice Bartlay, and currently has three UK offices and a turnover of £4 million.