Name: Phil Barratt
Title: Business Systems Manager
VS: How did you find out about Vanilla Solutions?
PB: I met Vanilla at an IFS User Group conference in 2010. I was looking for some help with database problems and Vanilla were working closely with a specialist and referred us across. Vanilla weren’t IFS Partners at that stage but later became partners and then more recently left the Partnership Network
VS: That’s right. We thought long and hard about leaving the partnership but it was the right decision for us and our customers. I think clients value our independence and benefit from the savings we make through not being part of the partner network
PB: That’s interesting. Yes, in my own personal experience I wouldn’t work with anyone else other than Vanilla, partners or not. I was tired of the usual set up of being over-sold consultants with an array of expertise just to work on a menial task for whole days at the top rate, when in reality it really needed just a few hours. When we originally went live we spent too much on consultancy. It got out of hand.
VS: So what’s the main appeal of working with Vanilla?
PB: Knowledge, approach and cost. My budget is tight and using Vanilla is wonderful as they work well within budget and if a job only requires a few hours they won’t quote me any more than that. The team are very knowledgeable and able to offer suggested solutions over the phone that I’ve never thought about. I love the approach. They don’t fiddle with the system. They use the tools that already exist, particularly the tools that lurk around at the dusty end of the tool box that nobody ever gets shown how to use.
VS: So do you think Vanillas main asset is their extensive knowledge of the IFS system?
PB: Not just that. They are honest about project estimates and costs. The enhancements we’ve had done by Vanilla were 200% cheaper than prices elsewhere. Vanilla work with what we have in terms of tools to save our cost. It’s a much better way of doing things as they don’t tread on IFS support. You’re just using what you’ve bought.
VS: What enhancements were you most impressed with?
PB: One of the best enhancements, excuse the geekiness now, is around purchase order receipt. When you’re in IFS and you’ve purchased something and, for instance, you’ve got in the region of 100 purchase order lines and you’ve gotten to the stage where you want to move that into stock, you have to go to each line and move to application manually. We have some orders with 300 purchase order lines. It can take up to 2 hours. I thought, “Why can’t we have just one button that does it?” It’s obvious isn’t it if you think about it? If you’ve got a purchase order with multiple lines, then you want to receive the whole purchase order. So I called Vanilla and their technical consultant came onto site. It took just 2 days and he developed a simple application to do this. Now we’re saving so much time and, ultimately, money.
VS: Do you think Vanilla are quick to solve problems?
PB: If I wanted a bit of code, not to do the whole thing, your guys can very quickly give me that and you only bill for what you do. The key point for me is that I can buy 1 hours’ worth of help. It’s a very simple and straightforward process. To me, that’s the beauty of it. The whole team are seasoned, industry experts and that’s a great value. Vanilla pick only the people who are good enough to be under their banner.
VS: How would you describe Vanilla?
PB: I would describe Vanilla as ‘Phone-a-friend’ – I mean that genuinely. Every consultant I’ve ever come across have been responsive and they have consultants in all areas specialising in both technical and functional. The entire company’s responsiveness is out of the park compared to anyone else.
VS: How long have you being working with Vanilla Solutions?
PB: I think I was one of their first customers, so 6 years. Vanilla are very prepared to make the little people feel valued and important. I pre-buy hours now as I did tend to call on their team as-and-when. It’s just easier to know that if I need them I’ve already dealt with the paperwork.
VS: Well, our theory is what comes around goes around so we treat all clients with the utmost respect and professionalism.
PB: Well, that’s very apparent. One thing I’ve noticed you do is to help put a face to a name. I like that you include pictures on your website and in newsletters so that we know who we’re speaking to. Your new marketing department has made quite the impact on Vanilla, especially your Christmas campaign!
VS: Any other comments?
PB: On a final point, I must say the Christmas gift this year from Vanilla was fantastic. It was perfect! If you’re going to give a Christmas gift, it needs to be good and you hit the nail on the head. I’ve still got your Christmas card on my desk. I’ve scanned it and I will be using it next time I do a PowerPoint; next time I do anything on lean. It absolutely sums up what Vanilla do, it’s brilliant.
VS: That’s very kind of you, thanks for your time Phil.
Mayerton Refractories is a leading manufacturer of high quality castable and refractories brick providing refractory engineering solutions and service. Headquartered in Europe, Mayerton is active in over 50 countries, adding strategic value to the largest industrial Groups worldwide. Established in 1991, Mayerton has over 20 years’ experience supplying refractory solutions to the iron, non-ferrous and steel industries.
Established in 2009, Vanilla Solutions help clients to get the best possible return on their investment through consulting, training, support and products. Recently announcing a £2.4million turnover, Vanilla Solutions continues to offer fundamental, independent services to users of IFS Applications. Whether an organisation is embarking on a new implementation, a business transformation program, or simply need some ongoing support, Vanilla have the extensive industry experience needed to extract the best value from investment in IFS Applications. Positioning themselves as part of the project team they provide clients with expert advice and the resources they require to make their chosen business systems work for them. Their consultants and technical staff are all employed in-house and sourced from a wide range of industries to bring a hugely diverse set of skills. This is evident by their broad customer base, ranging from large Aerospace & Defence clients to small manufacturing and service companies. Vanilla Solutions also provide complementary solutions that enhance the functionality of their clients IFS investments and other software solutions they might use including NovaCura Flow and QlikView.
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