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Client in Profile: Steve Bagwell, Protexin

Name: Steve Bagwell

Title: IT Manager

Company: Probiotics International (Protexin)

VS: How did you find out about Vanilla Solutions?

SB: I’d heard about Vanilla on a number of occasions and as I was looking for some help I accessed the Vanilla website and viewed some case studies and news articles. I liked what other customers had to say so I made the call, and I’m so glad I did!

VS: We’re glad you did too! How long have we been working together and how did our relationship develop?

SB: Vanilla first came on site with us early in 2016 and the relationship began with Vanilla assisting with the lead-up to go-live. Vanilla showed us a deep understanding of IFS early on and you continually help us to get the best possible solutions out of it.

VS: So what’s the main appeal of working with Vanilla?

SB: Vanilla is an agile business with 20+ full-time consultants and you’re really responsive. Your team of consultants are easy people to work with, they fit straight in and they’re all accessible. We’ve worked with a number of the team and developed a really strong working relationships with them where they are happy for us to email directly and always respond as soon as they can. The Vanilla business model aligned really well with our own, sometimes we find that bigger businesses aren’t very flexible or respond too slowly.

VS: What have been some of the key IFS Projects we’ve worked on with you?

 SB: Our web orders was one of the initial projects. Protexin sells via Tesco and Amazon online and we wanted to connect those orders up to our IFS system. We required someone who really knew their stuff and Vanilla supplied the right people for the job. The project required Vanilla’s team to configure the Connectivity part of IFS in order to get an order through, process it and receive using a standard IFS connection.   This was really a key project for us. You’ve also assisted with our data migration which was really quite complex, and you’ve helped us to figure out the set up for Crystal reports. We’ve had a large amount of help from your development team who hold a fantastic skillset. You’re currently working on a new area of development with regards to our Lab information management system and you offer us a support package to compliment our vendor support, where we can ask you questions and you’ll do whatever we require, mostly remotely, but on-site if needed.

VS: I understand that you’re also benefitting from some of our products and services to compliment your IFS solution.

SB: Yes, we have recently installed NovaCura Flow and it’s changed our entire approach – it’s truly limitless. Flow now runs all of our production and some of our warehousing, with a view to it running all of our warehousing in the near future. Your team got our team set up with Flow instantly, and the knowledge share empowered our business. We’re also working closely with your BI department and we’ve had a large amount QlikView development. Your team have helped us to visualise our data much more effectively.

 VS: How would you describe Vanilla?

 SB: Vanilla have an incisive sense of business needs. They are cost effective, diligent, industry experts. All of the team are accommodating and flexible, the consulting team spend time preparing in order to understand the business and become attuned to it. They don’t raise unrealistic expectations and offer very effective program management.

VS: Thanks for your time Steve.

SB: Always a pleasure.

About Protexin:

Protexin is dedicated to producing innovative research-based products of the highest quality for animals and humans. Their belief is that nature is an ideal source of effective healthcare solutions and that applied research and understanding can harness these solutions to the benefit of both humans and animals. The natural healthcare and probiotic supplements they manufacture are extensively researched for safety and efficacy. They work closely with leading universities, hospitals and research centres around the world on a range of ongoing research programmes. Protexin manufacture in their own purpose built, state-of-the-art facility in Somerset, UK. This allows them to be completely in control of their product quality. All products are subject to the highest, accredited standards of production and quality control and they hold the following quality certifications; cGMP (MHRA), ISO 9001:2008, BETA NOPS, each of which involves regular audits to ensure standards are maintained.

About Us:

Established in 2009, Vanilla Solutions help clients to get the best possible return on their investment through consulting, training, support and products. With a turnover in excess of £2.5million, 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 Qlik.

For more information, contact:

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

Vanilla Solutions


ALE makes Qlik Sense their Global BI Solution

Vanilla Solutions are pleased to announce that ALE, one of the world’s leading international heavy transport and lifting contractors, have selected Qlik Sense as their Global BI solution.


“With the help of Vanilla Solutions, we evaluated both QlikView and Qlik Sense to ensure we selected the correct product to meet our reporting requirements in the medium to long term.  Vanilla replicated some of our reports in both products and we took the decision to deploy Qlik Sense into the business.  Once implemented, we very quickly we were able to migrate our customer survey reporting from Excel to Qlik Sense.  This is now live, analysing our customer satisfaction survey results and providing us with a quicker and greater insight into customer feedback”- Jeremy Fothergill, Global Business Systems Manager for ALE

Qlik Sense is a next-generation visual analytics platform that empowers everyone to see the whole story that lives within their data. It supports a full spectrum of BI use cases, including self-service visualisation, guided analytics apps and dashboards, embedded analytics, and reporting, all within a governed framework that offers enterprise scalability and trust for IT. Qlik Sense is built on the QIX Associative Data Indexing engine, the second generation of Qlik’s proven and patented engine technology. Qlik’s Associative Model allows the business to probe all the possible associations that exist in their data, across all their data sources, to see the whole story instead of just the partial views offered by query-based or hierarchical tools. Qlik Sense takes analytics to a new level of power and flexibility, so that everyone is more informed and capable of acting and reacting faster.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with ALE, initially providing two proof of concept applications and now developing the first of many Qlik Sense applications.  Our aim now is to help the ALE internal team upskill so that they can continue their development themselves and start to realise the power of the Qlik Sense.  This self-service ability is one of the key benefits of Qlik and one of the reasons we are partners, as we believe in empowering our customers to become self-sufficient users of their applications”- Jason Belcher, Director of Vanilla Solutions

Click here to find out more about Qlik Sense or contact us today

The next shiny software upgrade will make it all better – right?

The developed world is gloriously full of sparkly new things to tempt us.  On balance, that’s probably a good thing as we need consumer demand to keep our factories, shops and service businesses open and, in turn, keep us all in work and able to buy the sparkly new things.  I think you need to take care though.

A few weeks ago I was driving up the M5 motorway from one customer in Somerset to another in Lancashire.  I stopped off in the midlands to get something to eat and (somehow!) found myself outside the dealer of my favourite motorcycle manufacturer checking out the latest models.

One had active suspension with automatic anti-dive and a stability control system that detected how far over the bike was leaning and adjusted the braking accordingly.  Amazing stuff.  After a few minutes, a friendly chap in an orange polo shirt came out and asked me what I was currently riding.  When I told him, he was quick to inform me that the newer model had more advanced fuel management and a bigger petrol tank and that I’d be able to go about 20% further between fills.  For motorcycle touring, this is a fairly persuasive point!

As I stood there wondering whether to blow a big chunk of disposable income on being able to ride 20% further and have less, umm, ‘dive’ I got to wondering about all of the other technology we buy and specifically the Enterprise Resource Planning products that my company works with.

Our customers are under constant pressure, much of it self-inflicted I have to say, to upgrade to the latest versions and exploit the latest new features.  Of course, some of these new features can deliver enormous business benefit if used appropriately but the same is also true of the many unused features that reside in the older versions of software our customers already have.

In my working life, I would estimate that around 75% of my customers tell me that they’ve invested in complex and highly capable software but they aren’t really using it to its full potential.  The studies we do of their business processes generally bear this out.  These are often the same people and businesses who pressure themselves to upgrade.  After all, if you’re only using 5% of ERP 1.0 then it makes perfect sense to upgrade to the ‘20% more functional’ ERP 2.0 and only use 4% of that, right?!

I’m not saying for a second that we shouldn’t ever change our motorcycles or ERP applications.  Things like supportability, regulatory factors and those new features that really are perfect for your needs all play a part.  But I’d argue that the decision to upgrade shouldn’t be close to being your first recourse.

For less than the cost of an upgrade, you could retrain whole sections of your staff, carry out a process overhaul and identify those most in need of your attention. You could even add on some sparkly complimentary products to manage specialist tasks and deliver some change. Just think how happy the board would be at the savings!

Back at the motorcycle dealer, I eventually wandered off, driven by the distraction of hunger and a slight feeling of melancholy.  That night, after a bit of hotel-room internet searching I discovered an auxiliary fuel tank system for my bike that will increase its range by 25% and cost an awful lot less than a new bike.  It even came with a fun afternoon in the garage pretending to be a proper mechanic while I fitted it.

I’m going to use the money I saved to actually go to some exciting places on my bike.  There’s only so much time you can spend on the M5…



Andy Bell


Andy started Vanilla, along with Jason in 2009 . Despite being something of an ERP ‘geek’ he is passionate about not complicating things and delivering what the client needs.

Andy likes to split his time between working with his customers on projects, running the business and supporting Abigail with new business development.

If you need Andy’s assistance,  click here to contact him today