REVIEWER: Joey Philpott, sales operations manager, Virginia Lottery.
BACKGROUND: The mission of the Virginia Lottery is to raise education funding for Virginia's K-12 public schools. In 2006, the Virginia Lottery achieved more than $1.3 billion in revenue and provided $454 million to Virginia's public schools.
HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Windows 2003 Server running SQL Server 2000 and HP Tablet PCs running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
PROBLEM SOLVED: OrderPad allowed the lottery to implement a new operational model in which the field sales reps place orders for "scratchers" (the scratch-off lottery tickets that you commonly find near the cash registers at convenience stores) while they are in the store. Under the old model, the lottery sales reps would visit the retailers, but didn't have any technology to place orders, so orders were being placed by telemarketers. The weakness of this was that the telemarketers didn't really know the retailer, didn't have rapport with the retailer and, in fact, had never stepped foot in the retailer's store. The telemarketers did have something that the sales reps didn't have - data. Lotteries are extremely data rich, with extensive information on what tickets the retailers have in inventory, sell-through rates, etc. But none of that information, which is crucial to create the best order, was available to sales reps prior to the OrderPad implementation.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The sales reps and managers have immediate access to detailed information about their products, their retailers and their orders - all while out in the field. They can quickly pull up-to-date information on their retailers' inventory, sales history, rates of sales, previous visit recaps, pending activities and more. OrderPad's To Do functionality aids in communication between headquarters, area managers and sales reps in the field. Sales reps are also able to use the up-to-date sales and inventory information to customize a scratcher order for each retailer.
STRENGTHS: The product has made our sales team more effective and efficient. Its greatest strengths are its usability and the information it provides our sales reps, which allows them to perform at a new level. OrderPad uses local databases on the Tablet PCs, which don't require Internet (or other) connectivity.
WEAKNESSES: The software is less than intuitive when it comes to setting up a sales rep's route. That was the most difficult part of training for us.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We liked the fact that it was optimized for the Tablet PC rather than a traditional notebook computer or PDA. The Tablet is very usable and provides enough room on the screen to accommodate the display of a lot of information at once, which makes it faster to use. The Tablet also allowed us to get our sales reps on our corporate email system and gave them access to Microsoft Office. In fact, our sales reps use PowerPoint as a training tool while working with their retailers. We also liked the fact that it could be used offline, only requiring our reps to connect twice a day to synchronize their local data with our corporate servers. The local database allows users to open their Tablets and use the software immediately, which was important to us. We knew if it wasn't easy to use and wasn't fast, our users would simply not use it. The third criteria we had is that we wanted to work with a proven product in which the vendor could point us to installations similar to ours and show us proven results. Based on all of this criteria, Cole's OrderPad software was the clear choice.
DELIVERABLES: The product provides us with data and reports of sales orders, sales reps' visit recaps and easy ways to track vehicle mileage, closing of scratcher games and more. We also use OrderPad's survey module to gather data from the field. Also, our sales reps and managers have plenty of reports to choose from, including a report that managers can run that shows the retailer visit histories of our sales reps.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Cole Systems has been an excellent vendor to work with. Their team has been and continues to be outstanding. One of the best parts of working with Cole is that they never say, "We can't do that." They've always been responsive to minor customization of their core product and are always looking for ways to improve the software.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand. We operate the system on our own and have a support agreement with Cole where we call them if there is a problem or if we need assistance with something.
Cole Systems Associates, Inc.
174 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013
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