We have been asked on several occasions for a list or training on “Best Practices” for OASIS. After installing a few hundred offices, we have found no two groups run their business the same. Having said that, there are some practices that we have seen that have resulted in more efficiency, taking advantage of features in OASIS, better accounting, tracking and reporting. And most of all, happier people. This document is designed to cover items we have found that could make the largest impact on your group.
Assign an OASIS “Go To” person
This was mentioned before your initial training as an effective way to get the most from OASIS. We have found having a person who is computer savvy, decision-making ability, understands all parts of the business and can sit through the entire training session of OASIS works very well for the group. This gives the office one person they can go to for most questions. If that person cannot answer the question, they call our customer support, get an answer, and relay the answer and both learn. When a user encounters an issue the “go to” person can answer quicker than calling customer support. We can provide the “go to” person with additional documents, links and information to help them help others.
Another important point here is the sharing of information among the group. Some users may pick up on something another person didn’t, sharing that information has proven to be very helpful.
One of the best predictors of a company’s success in the implementation and integration of a new technology is how committed its people are to the process. We call this commitment “buy in.” There must be buy in not only from leadership but from the IT team, and the day to day user. Buy in is based upon a combination of knowledge, ownership, and administration. Gaps in any of these components will affect the buy in of the user. If the user is given enough information to feel that use of OASIS is a positive change they will look forward to working on a new system instead of dreading it. Ownership refers to the ability of a user to make suggestions about the use of OASIS and suggestions for its development. Ingen has built our business on this principle; listening to our users on what was important and what hindered them in getting their job done. The final component is administration. The most successful businesses have a plan for how OASIS is to be used at their business, and create rules for data management; how data is to be entered and maintained. Data management is crucial to the integrity of the system and the reports being created from the system. A lack of a data management plan or rules that are not conveyed to the user will result in issues with data accuracy. User buy in will facilitate the implementation process and standardize business practices across your group.
Entering projects/jobs immediately
We have found it very advantageous to a group to enter the job into OASIS immediately when the job is known. This gives the user the ability to add information as it becomes available to the job. Even when there is nothing known except a street address, it is time to enter the job in OASIS. Many groups enter jobs from Dodge Reports, McGraw Hill or any lead service. The job or project name can always be changed later or given alias names. Using the “Followups” tab and “Attachments” tab users can enter all sorts of job related information that not only gives them access to all job related information in one place (including emails), but also gives the user a paper trail of everything done within a job making it very easy to “Project Manage”. Manage your projects instead of projects managing you.
Attaching related files, emails and more
One of the most powerful tools in OASIS is Attachments. This tool allows users to drag and drop any and all related files and emails related to the job. No more creating folders and sub-folders in Outlook for managing email related to jobs, just drag it into OASIS. Even if you delete it from Outlook and copy remains in OASIS. Drag fixtures schedules, drawings, any file, there is no limit**.
** Only limitations are the amount of hard drive space where the OASIS database resides.
Entering all Customers you do business with
Many users have found having all customers, including Distributors, Contractors, Specifiers, Landscaping, Interior Design, etc, virtually anyone they do any business with have reaped rewards. Once a customer has been added to a job it follows it throughout the entire process from project creation to payment reconciliation. This gives a user some powerful reporting tools to run customer success type reports, who you do business with and many others. Because most groups assign salespersons to these customers, credit for jobs can be tracked; commission can be paid for business generated, reporting year over year business and many more.
Entering all contacts with related information (email addresses)
As important as the entry of all customers in the article above, entering contacts (people) that work at these customers is important as well. Contacts are easy to enter along with their related role, email address, cell phone along with any other information. Having the email address allows user to email a contact without having to leave OASIS, plus a copy of any emails sent are attached to the job as well.
Even when a contact (person) moves to another customer, users simply need to change the customer they are now associated with and keep all the information they have collected for that person over the years.
This is an area where dividends have always paid. We have seen groups who do very little or no payment reconciliation to groups who meticulously track commissions and invoices. Those who do, always find money on the table. Even groups who were tracking the larger jobs and thought they were doing a fair job of tracking, found that when they started tracking all jobs found enough money to hire another person or to much more than pay for any extra time devoted to tracking. Bottom line is, it just works. OASIS gives you the tools to track orders not fully paid, invoices not fully paid and more. The training only takes an hour or so but can pay huge dividends.
No two groups we have ever found want to run the same set of reports; however there are many reports groups have in common. These reports are easy to find and run in OASIS. In fact, you can create your own set of reports that you can run with just a couple of clicks each month, week or whatever your practice is. Weekly quote report, Bookings report, PO Summary report, Order Backlog and Aged Invoice reports are just a few that groups run regularly, however there are hundreds of reports that can be generated from OASIS. With Version 2.7 users can now create reports from top to bottom choosing the columns, filters, spacing layout, page breaks, sorts and more!
Over the past seven years and after numerous agency installations of OASIS, we have observed many different business models and practices. These practices vary widely yet each agency uses the same software, OASIS, to manage their business. We have found that the key to a successful OASIS agency (and a bigger bottom line) is dependent on several common factors:
Management must be positive, consistent and goal-minded with OASIS
Discussing OASIS in meetings, learning from others, and helping those not learning as fast will be very helpful to get everyone working together.
Be the cheerleader and promote using all the tools, make it a TEAM effort.
Create a “vision” among your team of where you want your agency to be in the future.
Below are some of the ideas, methods and practices that agencies have used, many by trial and error, and have been successful applying. OASIS is a tool to help manage your business. The underlying goal is bringing more dollars to the bottom line.
How do I get there?
Evaluate where you are today
Not everyone is a technology “guru”, that’s OK. You can get there anyway. We are here to help, advise and get you to that level. A positive attitude is your best asset.
Understand that technology can help you
Evaluate your equipment, it may need updating. You don’t have to go overboard to run all OASIS features successfully.
Understand it is a process and it will take some time, but the rewards are huge!
Understand that some people don’t learn as fast as others, bring them along anyway, and help them understand it will make them more efficient.
Do you have a TEAM, are others willing to share information, help others?
Giving users the tools and abilities (training) that will make them more efficient.
OASIS can help you get rid of the paper clutter and keep your office organized.
Set some Goals – depending on where you are today, some of your goals might be:
Improve Customer Service
Create professional Submittals
Using all the Project / Quote management tools in OASIS to better manage jobs.
Less paper, more organization
More efficient office.
People Tools – some tools are not always seen
Patience – as with any implementation of software understanding that this will take some time.
Commitment from management – management must be committed to its success.
Manage – Manage, manage, and manage. Any project, goal or software must be managed, pushed and it needs to come from the top.
A good IT person – whether you have on staff or one you use from time to time, a good IT person will prove invaluable to the success of OASIS
Adequate computer system – technology changes quickly and systems get outdated. OASIS doesn’t take the latest and greatest to run, however keeping your systems updated is important. Call us for a recommended hardware requirements sheet.
Here are some items that may be targets for improvement:
- Do people stand in line at the fax machine?
1. Consider an electronic fax solution where users do not have to leave their desk to send or receive a fax
- Report on Agency “Hit” rate. OASIS can generate a Quote report to show ratios of quotes to orders for a customer.
- Report win/loss rate with specifers - Maybe you are spending too much time with the wrong customer
- Constantly typing and re-typing part numbers?
1. Use the Price list by downloading or copying and pasting price sheets into OASIS
- Do your Submittals make you money?
OASIS can store all your manufacturers’ cut-sheets allowing you to pull them into Submittals generated from Quotes, highlighting them and remembering from now on. This will cut your workload and present a very professional image that specifiers will notice.
Shipping / Web Portal
- Are you tracking shipping?
If you are entering shipping information into OASIS manually or downloading from a manufacturer you may be ready for the Web Portal, it will take customer service to the next level and make your agency more efficient
If not, then it may be time to start, we can help!
- Do outside sales and quotes people ever have any miscommunication on quoting a job?
Enter a job / project when its heard about, enter notes in the “Follow-ups” tab, attach and send emails, use reminders
- Do you want to put outside sales on commission? OASIS gives you the tools – see Paying Commission Salespeople
- Generate follow-up reports for Sales people to follow jobs
- Do you know what you are owed today?
Enter invoices, apply payments, then generate Backlog reports and Aged Invoice reports to track commission
Tell which orders are still unpaid. Tell which invoices are unpaid.
- Get control of Samples with the Sample tracking piece in OASIS
Recommended Practices (from agencies)
Manage, manage, manage
Introduce a “vision” to the entire staff
Be willing to give some time in meetings for OASIS. Let OASIS takeover meetings from time to time.
Try to have an OASIS expert in each area.
Be the cheerleader for this project
Encourage and cheerlead the “expert” in each area.
Understand that some folks learn faster than others, they will learn if you keep pushing them towards the vision.
Celebrate / encourage accomplishments – empower people.
OASIS will help you accomplish the goal! More efficiency, more money!
These are just a few areas you may consider improving. There are other areas you may consider for your group, we want to provide you the tools and help to reach your goal.
Many if not all of the ideas and features in OASIS were created by agency principals all over the country. This combined knowledge was sown into OASIS to help you make money.
Call us if you have any questions, need additional training via WebEx or in person! We are here to help!