Software Installation Advice
It isn’t just about the software
The decision to purchase a software management system – and then choosing the right one - will be one of the most important and significant business decisions you will make. Implementing the right solution can ultimately save you a fortune in efficiency and productivity but installing the wrong system or having the right system badly installed could result in huge additional costs that could take years to recover from.
Also remember that you are entering a close business relationship that will last at least 5 years and probably 10 or more. It is crucial that you consider all aspects in depth and select not only the right system, but also the right business partner who will continue to work with you constantly improving and developing the system for your benefit for years to come.
The following is a list of the 10 key issues you should consider in selecting a system for your business.
1. Ongoing support - what do long term clients say?
Some of our clients have been with us for 22 years (our parent company, TSI, has clients of over 30 years standing). For these clients, the original software sale is now insignificant. What keeps them with us is our industry leading support services and our commitment to continually improving their businesses.
Our team of consultants is over five times the size of any other New Zealand motor industry software support organisation - and this is SAM alone - if we consider the entire TSI Group as an entity, we are eight times the size of the next largest provider.
There is safety in numbers. Most years our growth in users outstrips most competitor's entire user base.
This is no accident. We have been providing the market's best software and support consistently for a quarter of a century.
2. Buying New Zealand made
Most New Zealand industries are highly technologically developed compared to the rest of the world and our population is computer literate. On one hand this is great as it allows our employers to benefit from software and technology to drive efficiency with the benefit of assuming new staff will be familiar with this technology. On the other hand, it means that software developed primarily for overseas markets isn’t always a great fit for our “flat”, streamlined and efficient businesses. A common issue, for example, is having to enter the same data in more than one place in the system because a large administrative department (the norm overseas) is assumed.
All SAM software is specifically designed for the New Zealand workplace. Whether you are looking for integrated WOF printing, importing used cars, needing GST expertise or intimate knowledge of our tax laws, our products have this functionality and expertise as standard.
Basically, our software is designed for and reflects our business market – efficient, reliable and affordable.
3. How many New Zealand sites?
We are very proud of our approximately 50% market share in the independent service and repair market and market leadership in dealerships in various industries. We are unique in our market in that we regularly publish our actual installation and user numbers............and when we quote these numbers, rest assured that we are talking about New Zealand installations and New Zealand users. We do have clients in the Pacific Islands, Australia and Asia, but we quote these separately when talking to overseas clients.
SAM has been installed in around 2000 sites and Orion installations now number over 400, covering approximately 450 individual business locations.
Both SAM and Orion are easily the most installed software systems in their respective markets. To put this in proper perspective, New Zealand software systems installed and supported by the TSI Group of companies are used by more sites and more users than the rest of the specialist motor industry software providers combined.
Yes, that's right - we are larger than all of our specialist competition combined!
Software management solutions provided and supported by the TSI Group (as a whole) run over 3000 New Zealand business locations with around 10000 New Zealand users accessing and processing in our systems daily.
We are the software and computing business partner of choice for the motor industry.
4. Who is the company behind this software and how big are they?
In 2013, SAM has (including our software agents and their staff dedicated to supporting our products) over 30 full time employees. The Systime Group has a further 34 staff.
The organisation provides end-to-end business computing solutions and includes an engineering department of 8 highly qualified and skilled hardware, networking and communications specialists.
As with our client and user numbers, our New Zealand based staff numbers are 7-8 times larger than the next largest competitor. This allows us to provide a coverage and depth of knowledge and expertise unparalleled anywhere else in our markets.
5. Will they be around in my future?
TSI (formerly Systime) has been in the specialist motor industry software solutions market for over 30 years. SAM has been in the same market for 22 years.
We dominate most industry markets we are in and we are a well-established, privately owned, 100% New Zealand company with a huge investment, both in financial and human resource terms, in maintaining and growing our position into the future.
We are here to stay.
6. How many support staff are available?
SAM employs over 20 full time software support consultants dedicated to supporting every area of SAM, Orion, Wasp and other processes in our client’s businesses.
In addition, and complementing our Auckland-based teams, we have an office in Christchurch plus Lower North Island and South Island based agents who have another 5 dedicated staff between them.
This is further backed by our internal support specialists such as our engineering and communications team comprising 8 technicians.
The size, scope and quality of our support and consultancy team is second to none.
We spend more on training and research and development every year than the rest of the New Zealand specialist automotive software providers combined.
7. Staff experience and qualifications
Our consultancy staff members are recruited directly from the motor trade in most cases. We make exceptions to this when we are looking for specialist expertise – for example our two chartered accountants and our computer training specialist – but drawing from the trade ensures that our staff know “hands on” how our client businesses operate. We know our users can tell the difference.
All staff members undergo intensive training in our software products as well as learning the general I.T., computing and business principles they need to carry out their jobs efficiently. In addition, most of our people undertake external accounting training and other relevant education in a variety of fields related to either I.T. or business.
We have no doubt that our team is the best in our specialist market and our service and support is second to none. Our staff really enjoy their role in helping our clients get the most out of their businesses.
8. Check the references
We have literally hundreds of reference sites that we use from time to time. Whatever your needs, we have similar clients whose experience of how our software operates in their business will be directly relevant to you.
Please feel free to ask our sales consultants for reference sites and, if desirable, to specify the types and sizes of clients you wish to speak to for a “warts and all” discussion.
9. What is included in ongoing after-sale support?
Firstly, and most importantly, we provide unlimited phone support from our Auckland based support centre and helpdesk. System problems, business questions, advice – it is all available free of additional charge from our consultancy team.
We also provide “first call” assistance for any hardware, communications or third party software – even for items not supplied by us. Often in these cases, once the cause of fault is determined, users will be directed back to another vendor for resolution - but our commitment is to always take the first call and get our clients moving again.
Direct support of our systems is generally available remotely (using a variety of secure connectivity options). We are able to connect directly and carry out whatever remedies are needed quickly and efficiently, keeping down time and inconvenience to an absolute minimum.
We invest heavily in information technology research each year. As new technologies become available, our specialists in each area are able to assess them and, if there are suitable benefits to be derived, integrate these into our software products for deployment to clients. Recent examples are SMS text messaging, GPS tracking, internet interfaces and scheduled file uploading to websites (e.g. online stock).
This research and testing analysis also occurs when changes such as Microsoft rollouts of Windows 2000, XP, 2003 and, more recently, Vista occur. We test each of these as they appear in as many combinations of software and hardware as possible. The cost of this research is carried within our software support revenue so all clients benefit from the economies of scale involved and receive access to new technology – with all the little bugs and problems “ironed out” in advance - at a tiny fraction of the cost of everyone doing it alone.
SAM and Orion both have at least one major software update each year. These updates incorporate the previous year’s (client requested) enhancements plus any new technology being included into a fully tested and market ready software version. This is our primary means of delivering new development to clients and is also provided as part of our ongoing software support agreement at no additional charge.
Training our staff to a point of industry expertise is expensive and time consuming. We undertake this happily, however, as it provides the major point of difference between our service delivery and the rest of the market. We have the best people and the best reputation because we invest heavily in this critical area of our business – our clients appreciate our expertise and knowledge because it helps them to grow their profits.
10. Real Windows technology?
Several providers of software to the motor industry who purport to sell genuine Windows technology are actually selling what are known in the trade as “screen scrapes”. These are Windows look-alike screens that sit over much older technology "pretending" to be Windows, but without the functionality and ease of use we normally associate with the genuine Microsoft software. If you are in any doubt, a common test is to open a “window” and then, leaving it open, see if you can open another. If you can’t, it isn’t really Windows. You will often find screen scrapes used by larger suppliers - especially overseas based providers with a vested interest in holding onto an obsolete system because of the huge cost of updating to genuine Windows.
Love it or hate it, Windows has become the international standard and it can’t be avoided. Most people (including young people emerging from schools and universities to become today’s and tomorrow’s employees) are used to the “look and feel” associated with Windows and have at least some level of familiarity with it. Windows (in its current form) has been with us since 1995 so it is reasonable to ask how it can be that some current software developers have not properly incorporated compatibility with this most common of operating systems into their software. They have had over 13 years to do it, after all! What does this tell you about how they will be supporting you in 2, 5 or 10 years' time?
SAM and Orion are developed in what we refer to as a “native” Windows platform. It has been built for exactly our type of development – rapid, secure and comprehensive software development for business environments. It gives us everything we need to provide our clients and users with easy to use software that has the grunt to deliver real business solutions at the right price - now and in the future.
Don’t waste your money on pretenders. Look for Windows and use the word “genuine” when you ask.