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Interview: Steve Baumgartner, CIO, Inpro Incorporated

Steve Baumgartner
CIO
Inpro Incorporated

inpro

Chris Frey
VP of Cloud & Contact Centers
Converged Technology Professionals

Converged Technology Professionals

 

Steve Baumgartner, CIO of Inpro Incorporated and Chris Frey, VP of Cloud & Contact Centers at Converged Technology Professionals give valuable insights in how to make the switch to cloud communications as smooth as possible.

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Transcript:

Chris Frey:

Steve, thanks again for being here with us today. Can you give us some background on yourself and your role with the organization?

Steve Baumgartner:

Sure. I am the CIO here at Inpro Corporation. We're a manufacturer that's based in Muskego, Wisconsin, which is a southern suburb of Milwaukee.

Chris Frey:

And can you extend that a bit and talk about the background as to what Inpro is all about?

Steve Baumgartner:

Sure. So we're a manufacturer of basically interior products that go in ... Our main markets are hospitality, healthcare, education, stadiums, that type of market. So we make all the products from handrails, to corner guards, to the track and curtains that go around emergency room beds and so on. We have a couple thousand products.

Chris Frey:

Can you provide a little run through, I should say, of Inpro by the numbers so we have an idea the size and scope of the overall organization?

Steve Baumgartner:

Sure. So we have about 650 employees. We have 10 buildings, a couple office buildings. And the majority of them are manufacturing buildings in Muskego here. We have two manufacturing buildings in Phoenix and one in Charlotte, and then we have four locations internationally also.

Chris Frey:

And are you fully deployed on 8x8 today?

Steve Baumgartner:

We are not. We're about three or four weeks away from go live. We have been working on all the spreadsheets and the pre-planning documents, and just sent those over earlier this week to 8x8. And now they are in the process of getting those loaded and preparing for us to get the unified communication people all ready to go so we can start testing that. And then we're also in the process of working on the contact center. But we're pretty, even though we have 650 employees, 250 of them are in sales and sales support. So it's a pretty large sales organization. And then we have the different requirements around receptionist and just kind of the magnitude of how we want to use the software.

Chris Frey:

So is the current plan to handle just your headquarters or are you doing the North American footprint?

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah. So right now we're doing all locations in North America. Not internationally right now. We don't have a lot of people there, but eventually we will.

Chris Frey:

Okay. So when starting this process of moving your communications to the cloud, what kind of major directives did the business want you to focus on?

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah. So we started this process by putting together a strategic team to look at this. And so we had different kind of key user groups, both mostly sales people, sales managers, receptionists, and other groups in the company to help us kind of walk through this. And the main, I guess differentiators was we have our own reception team, so we have four to six receptionists that are here at any given time. We wanted a strong Salesforce integration for doing screen pops, and click to dial and maybe other things. And then call recording for the sales people so that the sales managers can listen to it and help them be better.

Chris Frey:

As part of this move to the cloud, are you also ditching your plastic phones in favor of soft phones?

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah. We're 100% across the board going to just go with headsets, the soft phones side of things. We are putting in a couple hard phones in our conference rooms, and in our production facilities and so on. But other than that, everybody's going to headsets basically.

Chris Frey:

I would say that for the size of your organization, the decision to kind of big, broad swath that we're removing the plastic phone, you're going to get soft phone, that's a pretty bold decision. I think it's a good decision, but a pretty bold one. How has that decision been met within your organization thus far?

Steve Baumgartner:

I don't think we've had a lot of issues with it. I mean, we went to Teams just before COVID hit, and most people are using headsets with Teams already, and they feel, I think, pretty comfortable with it. I mean, even some of our old timers are like, I'm fine. I use headsets today. I don't need my phone. So I think we'll be fine with it.

Chris Frey:

Has it been a challenge to find and source headsets or to pick the appropriate models for the groups?

Steve Baumgartner:

Well, I mean, we've gotten some feedback from you guys and some recommended headsets to look at and so on. We pretty much standardize on Plantronics for our sales and sales support group, wireless ones. So we know that those will also work with 8x8. And we're looking at for non sales people that maybe aren't on the phone as much doing a cheaper, more wired version that they can just plug in and use.

Chris Frey:

Okay. So, so far sourcing hasn't been a problem, you've been able to find what you wanted and where you want it from?

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah, it seems like it. I mean, compared to buying computers and other products, I think it's been a little better than that.

Chris Frey:

I would say you're ahead of the curve and your decision to source as well. We have had a lot of customers that have, I would say wait till the last minute, and then instead of getting what they want, they have to buy what they can get. So word to the wise for those that are looking to make the flip, start early on your procurement of headsets. I want to spend some time and talk about the buying cycle, and specifically the role that Converge played through this process. So this is part shameless plug for Converge in our relationship. And I just want to say to all those that are listening, that this particular, this project, at least from the sales side of things, is something that I'm really proud of. I hope, Steve, that you're proud of it. My opinion, it's one of the best end to end journeys that I've been a part of. So I'm really proud to be here to talk to you about it and share it with others. So I guess number one, why did you seek out a partner to help you through the procurement process?

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah. We had started without a partner. We started looking at like the Gartner Magic Quadrants for unified communication and for contact centers to kind of try and narrow it down on our own to have them do some demos, talk to a few references. And the deeper we got into it, the more complicated it seemed. And we got the feeling like we were seeing the best of the different vendors, but maybe not hearing the downsides of some of them. And then I happened to sign up for a virtual wine tasting with you guys, and heard about your process and how you help companies make the decision and so on.

Steve Baumgartner:

And it really seemed to be a great option for us, because we don't really have any background with working with 8x8 or RingCentral, any of the other big names out there. But you guys really have worked with them for a long time and really know the key differences. As you've told me many times, there's just a handful of key differences between them. And based on our requirements, going through the process, it help really separate them and make it clear who we should go with.

Chris Frey:

Yes, you have come full circle here as being an attendee of the event, and then now a guest speaker. So full circle.

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah. And I get wine twice, so it worked out great that way. But no, the other thing that was really interesting in the process too was having that full team. I think a lot of companies do it with just their technology group. And it helped having the receptionist team, and the sales group and a few others see it, and hear it and be involved in the process. So when we got to the end, we really got the feedback from all the key user groups to help make the decision. And that helped a lot.

Chris Frey:

Yeah. I was going to ask if you could talk a bit about inviting others to be part of the evaluation. Would you say that these other teams were really willing participants? Were they all excited and eager to participate, share their opinions and sit through meetings, and demos and such?

Steve Baumgartner:

Well, I'm not sure if they really knew what they were getting into to start with. But we do a lot of technology projects here. I would say every year we do about 30 strategic projects, and 20 of them have a technology component. So most of them are used to being on technology teams. We just put in Salesforce six months ago, and so a lot of them were involved with that. So I think they'd rather be involved with it than not so that they're involved in making the decision. So I didn't see any much resistance, other than just the time component to it.

Chris Frey:

And it does take a long time. What was your overall buying cycle here from hello to signature?

Steve Baumgartner:

I don't know. I'm trying to think back. It was probably four to six months, I think.

Chris Frey:

It was about six months.

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah. That's what I'm kind of thinking.

Chris Frey:

Do you feel that the businesses is better engaged in the project, in the active project now, since they had such an active role throughout the selection process?

Steve Baumgartner:

Well, to be honest, a lot of the upfront, now that we've signed with 8x8 and we're working on the implementation side, a lot of them probably want to be more involved now, but a lot of the work in the first three or four months have been setting up the technology side of things. And now we're just kind of getting into the Salesforce integrations and how we're going to use text messaging, and website chat and a bunch of that stuff. We're just getting that part in. And the users have been emailing me regularly like, "when can we get back involved again to test it out and be a part of it?" So they're ready to go.

Chris Frey:

So you'd say that you feel that they have a sense of ownership in the overall project?

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah, definitely.

Chris Frey:

With respect to the procurement journey, how has this purchase gone, or compared to others that Inpro and yourself have gone through?

Steve Baumgartner:

I think it's been smoother than ... I mean, so the last two major software systems we put in have been Salesforce and NetSuite, so two pretty complex animals. And this definitely has been smoother than that. And I think getting back to your question before about using outside help, it really, the thing that you guys really brought us was more of a good framework and making sure that we're really thinking through our key requirements. And when we did the demos, making sure that the vendors would stick to the scripts and show us everything, not just what they're really good at. And that really, we wouldn't be able to pick up on some of that stuff, but you guys, having that background really helped us ask more of the tough questions and really answer the questions.

Chris Frey:

So I guess my last question is, are there any lessons learned from this experience that you'd like to share with your colleagues that are attending this seminar today?

Steve Baumgartner:

Yeah. I would just say, don't try and do it on your own, unless you've got somebody that's got some previous experience with some of these systems. It's really helped having somebody help guide us through the process. And I feel like we wouldn't have been as confident in our choice if we didn't have some expertise and a process in place. So I think that's just, you can't just do it on your own. It would be like implementing Salesforce on your own, you just don't know how it works.

Chris Frey:

You don't know what you don't know, right?

Steve Baumgartner:

It's true.

Chris Frey:

Steve, I appreciate all your time today, and you're answering all these questions and being as transparent as you have been. And again, for just you personally, it's been a pleasure working with you. And thank you very much.

Steve Baumgartner:

Okay. Thanks so much, Chris.