Case Study – Bluegrass Mailing Services

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For many years, every municipal bill the residents of Lexington, Kentucky received was processed by a private water company. When that firm decided printing and mailing was no longer a fit with their core business, the city went looking for a new provider. A local print-and-mail services provider, Bluegrass Mailing Services, looked like it could do everything they needed and more.

But Bluegrass found it was competing for the contract with several large companies around the country. The city’s plan was for the water company to continue handling its own bills while Bluegrass would produce those for sewage, landfill, water treatment, and more. Mailing volume would be moderate, about 120,000 monthly, spread out over the entire month with 5,000 to 10,000 pieces in any given day. Some data would come from the water company and the rest from the city. Bills would be comprised of both electronic and paper bills, and the ability for residents to make payments electronically was essential.

Varied Requirements

“We’d been doing direct mail, fulfillment and fundraising for a long time, but were still relatively new to the transactional side of the business,” relates Bluegrass president and founder Bill Nichols. Although his company had previously partnered with another firm for the e-bill presentment and payment side of transactional jobs, Nichols recognized the work with the city would require complete control from data receipt through printing, mailing, e-delivery, and e-payment. “The different types of bills the city required vary significantly in quantity and frequency. We needed an advantage that would give us total control all these variables and provide seamless automation along with e-billing and e-payment. We wanted to simplify the entire process and provide the responsiveness the city needed.”

Nichols thought the advantage might be Uluro, a fully automated document production system Bluegrass had recently acquired and was integrating into transactional jobs for other customers. Uluro allows applications to be set up once, initiated, and deployed repeatedly without additional manual intervention. Subsequent changes to documents can be made quickly, then viewed and approved online. Recipients can choose how they receive their correspondence, helping deliver highly personalized mail across both physical and electronic media.

After a demonstration that showed how Uluro’s capabilities matched Lexington’s needs and the bid was accepted, Bluegrass was awarded the contract. Then the real work started.

“There’s a function in Uluro called Mapper that lets us specify all the characteristics of a job. Once that is set up the job is ready to run automatically.” explains Tom Patterson. IT Director. “We were using it for some other jobs, learning how to get the most out of it when we started to set up the jobs for the city. Uluro’s product and technical support teams jumped in to augment the training we’d already received and helped our team set up and test the different jobs for the city.”

The contract went live in late summer of 2012 and continues to evolve. “One of the greatest advantages with Uluro is how responsive we can be to customer requirements.” continues Patterson. “When a change is requested, we can often have it ready for approval and sometimes ready to go into production the same day. That kind of turnaround just wasn’t possible with the previous mix of software or when we had to rely on a partner. Uluro gives us the control we want and the proactive response the city needs.”

With Uluro, Lexington has been able to continue using the pre-printed color shells the city uses for its bills but can now create completely unique documents based on the data received. The layout of text on the pages varies depending on the type of bill. Two data streams drive the letters, billing information and addresses, all of it managed using Uluro.

“We simply couldn’t do all that this job requires without Uluro.” says Nichols. “The people at Transformations are forward-looking, and keep adding features because they understand the needs of companies like Bluegrass. When you have a partner that thinks forward for you, so you don’t have to, you keep that partner for a long time.”