Case Study – Impact Proven Solutions

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Impact Proven Solutions wanted to raise the bar on their entire operation. The successful Minneapolis-based purveyor of direct mail marketing services recognized that streamlining their workflow and better utilizing the internet throughout their creative and production processes would increase efficiency and add value for their customers.

jon_downingFurther driving the need was Impact’s acquisition of a company that produced bills, statements, collection notices, and other transactional documents. For these, automation was critical for timely, accurate, cost-effective production, yet the processes Impact had in place needed upgrading to help ensure the company continued to improve the efficiency of their client’s process and transactional workflow.

“We were doing too many things manually and not fully leveraging the internet and current technology to integrate our varied capabilities,” recounts Jon Downing, IT/IS Product Portfolio Manager at Impact Proven Solutions. “But without a complete view of data processing and document composition it was hard to identify the points that slowed us down.”

Transactional jobs demand tight data security throughout the production cycle and a chain of custody must be maintained for every document. Impact also wanted to offer customers state-of-the-art capabilities such as online submission and approval of documents as well as electronic billing and payments. These are complex offerings, even for large-scale transactional service providers, fraught with issues of online data security that can be difficult for smaller firms to offer.

An All-in-one Approach

Downing believed an all-in-one solution was the best integration strategy and after searching the marketplace selected Uluro software from Transformations. Uluro was specifically developed to provide a complete, automated front-to-finish system for all aspects of physical and electronic transactional mail processing and production.

“There’s a quality component to automation” notes Downing. “Fewer fingers and eyeballs in a process means more reliability in each step. There’s a labor advantage too, because we can deploy staff more effectively and process more work in less time. Uluro quickly helped us become much more automated and move in the right direction.”

“In our legacy platform it was often difficult to determine the root cause of failures which made it hard to solve the problem. With an integrated workflow it’s much easier to identify any weak points and continually improve our processes,” continues Downing. “For example, Uluro can perform integrity checks to prevent duplicate files from processing. This instills confidence among clients that we can prevent bad things from happening.”

Smarter Inserting

sensible_tech_logoImpact was especially interested in taking advantage of the intelligence offered by its Sensible Technologies inserters. The machines track mail pieces using 2D barcodes and communicate with Uluro, which features a dashboard showing each job as it is processed and quickly highlights any errors.

“This not only tells us exactly where a job is in the process, our customers can see the same information online. Technology is enabling more and more transparency in the production processes and customers will expect this in the future. With Uluro we’re able to offer it today.”

New capabilities

Impact is quick to leverage its direct marketing expertise when talking with its transactional customers. “It’s no longer just about the bill. Now we’re talking with our client’s marketing people about new opportunities and can offer them a new way of reaching their customers. It’s an area where we’re very comfortable, and anytime you can bridge gap between IT and marketing you split the Red Sea!” affirms Downing.

Placing promotional offers on bills and statements is becoming an accepted way to elicit additional sales from customers, but the process can be unwieldy. It often requires some level of statement redesign and a company’s marketing and IT departments have to work closely to ensure targeted messages will reach the intended customers. It’s not a simple process and can even be seen as intrusive to recipients.

impact_logoInstead of the more common practice of sending a bill in an email, perhaps with a hyperlink to an electronic version of the document, Impact can host branded web portals for its customers, linked from an email. With Uluro’s Web 3.1 module, a retail store using Impact for its billing could have a branded web portal through which its customers can see their account statements. When customers of the store access their account, the webpage can be automatically populated with offers based on known preferences and purchase histories, completely independent of the monthly bill.

“With Web 3.1 it’s much faster to place ads on portals,” notes Downing. “For some clients, having ads on the portal is preferable to having them on the statement, and we can still vary the message for each of their customers. And from a layout perspective, it means there are no white space management issues, which saves time that would be spent on design and approval.”

Web functionality also aids document design. New or revised versions of bills, statements, direct mail offers, and portals no longer have to be uploaded via FTP or email, then downloaded by Impact’s clients. With Web 3.1 the documents can all be viewed and approved online, further streamlining the workflow and increasing transparency.

“The best part,” affirms Downing, “has been the ability to show clients that we’re making significant strides in using technology to add value and create a more reliable process for handling their work.”