As companies have become more reliant on information technology, IT departments have gone from being simple help desks to the driving force behind a company’s operations.
During the entire month of February, 48forty is celebrating all things related to information technology and value it adds to our customers both external and internal. Enjoy this first installment!
As companies have become more reliant on information technology, IT departments have gone from being simple help desks to the driving force behind a company’s operations. Such is the case at 48forty. Contrary to popular thinking that pallet companies are not heavily reliant on IT, 48forty’s IT systems and the sophisticated group behind them are powerful enablers of our national pallet company’s success.
Here are the five qualities that put 48forty at the top of the IT game.
One: Deep, Diverse Experience.
Our IT team has tremendous bench strength. Prior to working with 48forty, team members have worked with such heavy hitters as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and Fluor Daniel. Others have joined us with prior experience in banking, engineering, healthcare and other industries, giving us deep understanding of business processes like accounts receivable, accounts payable, operations, and sales. This diversity of experience means our IT team is focused on IT solutions that support businesses’ day-to-day operations. Says Gale Fellows, a senior technical lead whose professional career includes stints in banking and accounting, “Our focus is making the world better for the business.”
Two: Practical with a Purpose.
We don’t do tech for tech’s sake. Our goal is to provide IT solutions that are practical and “calibrate” with customers’ needs. When we build an IT solution, there has to be a value add for the customer.
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Case in point: many of 48forty’s retail customers buy and sell pallets to the company. The traditional accounting behind these transactions is complicated, labor intensive and requires multiple invoices. Seizing the opportunity to simplify and automate these processes, 48forty offers customers “net-out billing” that automatically combines all of a customer’s buy-sell pallet transactions into one receivable or one payable. All transactions are documented and available to customers online, on demand through 48forty’s PalTrax® portal. The more we can automate and document, the better we serve our customers.
Three: Built and Manage One of the Best IT Systems in the Pallet Industry.
When John Duke, a systems support specialist, joined 48forty 13 years ago, he and others on the IT team were charged with developing a centralized operations tool connecting all aspects of 48forty’s business, including the 45 owned and over 180 partner pallet facilities across the United States. The proprietary system, known as Logix, ties all of the company’s data from sales, purchasing, inventory, operations, quality, payroll, and finance together in one place. Logix, which took nearly a year-and-a-half to whiteboard, replaced most of 48forty’s manual processes. Today, Logix is updated quarterly with enhancements that support changes in 48forty’s and our customers’ businesses. John, who characterizes Logix as the best IT system in the pallet industry, says simply: “It’s a phenomenal tool.”
Four: Passionate about Problem-Solving.
Our IT folks are professional problem solvers. So much so that we’re often called into customer roundtable meetings to add the IT perspective to brainstorming solutions. Our team always welcomes the chance to participate. Sometimes what was thought to be an IT issue is really a process issue; meetings with customers let us do joint detective work. This kind of collaboration not only provides the opportunity to ask questions and listen to our customers, it helps form true partnerships.
[A formal issue resolution process ensures customer satisfaction and benefits large organizations. See what we've learned along the way of making sure every team member is a customer-focused quality pro.]
Recently, a customer had some very specific needs related to their pallet management solution. By listening to our customer, we were able to implement a customer-specific shipping method within our Logix system as well as an automated pickup notification system and a custom order management solution. Additionally, we were able to quickly develop a portal-based issue-tracking tool that allowed us to address any specific concerns they had in a more efficient and effective way, giving the customer better insight into product or logistical concerns.
Five: Welcome Customer Engagement.
48forty was Tiffany Jacquot’s first IT job when she joined our company 12 years ago. She spent two years on the help desk learning the business inside and out. Today, she’s a subject matter expert on two critical areas of IT as it relates to workflow automation, specifically EDI and digital process automation. Tiffany works with customers to get them set-up and comfortable with EDI for automated transaction processing. She also works closely with internal business users to automate many critical processes by leveraging 48forty’s enterprise process automation platform, known as K2.
All 48forty customers and vendors go through a number of onboarding steps, automated by the K2 platform, including the initial application process, A/R and tax setup.
Tiffany is happy to help make our IT processes easy.
“The ultimate goal with EDI, for example, is to get users to a point of ‘set it and forget it.’ I work with users until they are comfortable and the system is running perfectly. If there’s ever an issue, they have my phone numbers and email. Everyone likes having a go-to person in IT,” says Tiffany.
There are many more people like Tiffany on the 48forty IT team who are happy to jump on a call with customers to answer questions, walk them through our online customer portal PalTrax® or just listen to their needs. It’s just how IT rolls at 48forty.
48forty is incredibly proud of our entire IT team and the sophisticated systems and solutions they create, manage and support. They are on top of the game, which in turn ensures our customers are on top of theirs.
Chuck has nearly 20 years of information technology and management experience across several industries. As 48forty's CIO, he is responsible for the strategy the information technology organization as they provide the tools and technologies that enable 48forty to deliver exceptional services to its valued customers. Read more about Chuck here.