Prior to the Apacheta/Motorola deployment, Bally Technologies’ field technicians used a completely manual, paper-based process. “We would have to rely on either email or the U.S. Mail to get the necessary paperwork so that we could record transactions and then process them in accordance with our normal internal policies,” says Bally Technologies senior business analyst E.J. Coyle.
“By using ServiceACE, we are able to send data from the field over the AT&T network directly into our back-end CRM and ERP systems, shaving days off of the previous process and providing a more complete view into our installation and service operations,” Coyle says.
One of the key challenges in implementing the new solution, Coyle says, was that Bally Technologies initially attempted to do everything in one fell swoop. “And so every time you turned around, the business requirements changed,” he says. “So what we did is we broke it up into bite-sized chunks, allowing us to understand the technology of the handheld and adapting our business processes accordingly.”
That meant starting with a clear understanding of the workflow required. “We knew that signatures at the customer sites were important … so we did that first,” Coyle says. “Then there were some other service requirements that we had – the second bullet point there was to complete service tickets, including preventative maintenance, machine removal, game servicing and conversion orders. So we learned from what we did on the workflow, and we expanded it to those other dimensions of our business.”
It wasn’t until Bally broke the process up into smaller pieces, Coyle says, that they were able to proceed successfully with the deployment. “In order to be able to make something work with a device like this, you’ve go to make sure that your current internal processes are sound … so we developed a phased approach for implementation,” he says. “As a team, we brainstormed what would be included in each phase based on business needs and executed the plan. And while we were implementing each phase, we were making sure that our internal processes were sound so that we could implement the next phase more easily.”
While some of Bally’s field technicians initially resisted the change from the legacy paper-based system to the Motorola MC75 devices, Coyle says that quickly changed. “When we experienced an outage recently, they said, ‘I can’t go back to manual. I can’t do paperwork any more – I’m so used to this handheld,’” he says. “And the customers came on board, too – they liked signing their signatures on the handheld, doing it electronically.”
Despite the overwhelming success of the deployment, Coyle says they haven’t been able to eliminate the paper-based process entirely. “We have to rely on phone service, and not all locations – or all customers – allow you to communicate in their facility with a phone,” he says. “So there always has to be a manual process to back it up. You can’t just go in blind and say, ‘It’s all or nothing.’ You need to have a process in place so that if the device can’t function in a particular location or in a particular business setting, you’ve got manual paperwork as a backup to make sure your business doesn’t suffer.”
Apacheta’s ServiceACE application, Coyle says, was key to making sure that all aspects of the deployment worked together. “We have several different systems we collect data from,” he says. “We have one place where we have inventory information, another place where we have customer information that’s related to a service request … those two are some of our enterprise-wide systems that we need to provide real-time transactions to – and with ServiceACE, we were able to accurately tap into those two systems and gather information into the handheld.”
The new system, Coyle says, now processes at least 3,000 or 4,000 emails automatically every month. “That tells me that we’re doing a lot of things right, because what would happen before is that there would be 3,000 or 4,000 pieces of mail that would come in that would need to be processed manually,” he says. “It’s reduced the amount of manpower that’s required for us to process the data … providing us with the ability to make better business decisions.”