Publiceret: 3/15/2013
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Karmak Inc. IT Services Firm Improves Productivity and Service Quality with MPN Benefits

“I consider PTS an extension of our Karmak team. They have great resources and are ahead of the curve using new technology; and are ready to support us in our leading edge development strategies.” - Jeff Pigott, Systems Architect at Karmak

For over 30 years, Karmak, Inc. has been a leading provider of business management solutions designed for the commercial transportation industry in the United States. In 2001, the company migrated from legacy mainframe systems to Microsoft® Visual Studio® .NET and built applications that run on Microsoft Windows®-based mobile and desktop clients. By leveraging Microsoft Partner Technical Services Technical Pre-Sales and Advisory Services Support, Karmak was able to cut down on time invested in searching for answers to internal project design and development issues and customer questions. The company was able to increase team efficiency, allowing developer teams to allocate more than 40 hours of their time each year in more strategic initiatives. Karmak improved its issue resolution time by more than 75% and improved quality of response in its goal to achieve high customer satisfaction.

Situation

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* Karmak’s really known to be different from its competitors because of its customer support. We take pride in providing customers with great response time and the right answers to their issues. *

Jeff Pigott
Systems Architect
Karmak

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Karmak, Inc., established in 1981, is a Microsoft Gold Competency Independent Software Vendor (ISV), a Silver Data Platform partner and is a US ISV High Potential member head-quartered in Carlinville, Illinois. The company develops robust and scalable business management solutions that are built from the ground up and supported by their 240 employees and a .NET developer team of 25, most of whom come with broad industry experience before joining Karmak. Karmak’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions are subscription-based and cater to the needs of the commercial transportation industry. They cover basic ERP modules like financials, accounts receivables and payables, and more niche functions including parts and service, equipment leasing and rental, manufacturer warranty processing, and OEM communications, among many others. The ERP offering has a range of products targeting more than 1,700 small to large enterprise customers that include heavy-duty truck dealers, parts distributors, and even smaller repair and service shops.

In 2001, Karmak realized that to achieve scalability and to support their growing customer base they had to move away from their legacy mainframe based systems. The company worked on some prototypes with Microsoft® Visual Basic® 6 and soon launched its first Microsoft Windows® based business management system. Since then, the company has been building innovative products that use Microsoft technologies and platforms – such as Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET, Microsoft SQL Server®, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows Phone and Microsoft Windows 8 – and reduce the reliance on the legacy backend systems. More recently, the company has been focused on providing cloud based products, with approximately 10% - 20% of their customers now subscribers on Karmak’s own hosted private cloud infrastructure.

One of the unique factors that Karmak distinguishes itself is its top notch customer service that relies on people, rather than automated systems, answering the phones. Jeff Pigott, Systems Architect at Karmak, says, “Karmak’s really known to be different from its competitors because of its customer support. We take pride in providing customers with great response time and the right answers to their issues.” As Karmak migrated its solutions to Windows and the newer Windows Phone and Windows 8 platforms, the developer team often encountered design and architecture-related questions and sometimes customer break-fix issues. For these, Karmak relied on Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) ultimate incidents that are allocated to them as a part of their MSDN developer accounts, or would spend substantial amounts of time searching online on the MSDN site and case study library.

Solution

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* Having the resource available to open a case, have a conversation about it, and close it quickly is worth so much more than trying to spend hours in a day to look up for something that others have worked on and find out that the solution may not even apply to your scenario. *

Jeff Pigott
Systems Architect
Karmak

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Although, Karmak found the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) support to be extremely useful for large projects and break-fix issues that took more than eight hours to resolve, they were looking for a support resource that could help them achieve a faster response time to quick customer queries and smaller projects. In 2005, Karmak began using Microsoft Partner Technical Services (PTS) benefits that were included in their Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) membership. The company was entitled to the following support from Partner Technical Services:

Pre-sales Assistance, especially when the project team and developers were exploring new products that they hadn’t worked with before. The pre-sales assistance included guidance from Microsoft consultants on validating the solution’s functionality and value to the customer through proof-of-concept support, and also developing business cases, competing against other products, and understanding solution features and capabilities.

Advisory Services Support, for when project or team leaders needed help in responding to technical queries before and during customer projects, and responding to specific customer change requests post deployment. This included Systems Architecture, development, design, and implementation guidance on Microsoft technologies.

Karmak mainly leveraged their MPN benefit hours to work hand-in-hand with Microsoft’s Partner Technical Services’ ISV support group to build proof-of-concepts or get developer assistance. For example, in 2012 the company was working on an upgrade to a high potential application, Karmak Attach-IT (http://www.karmak.com/karmak-attach-it.aspx) that allows users to take photos of vehicles or equipment with a smartphone; scan repair order quotes; deal with paperwork and other documents using a tablet computer; and wirelessly transfer to the business system as an attachment or for archiving. The developer team was working on porting the existing Windows Phone 7 application to the new Windows 8 Store application to run on Windows 8 desktops or Windows 8 RT tablet devices.

At the time of this project, Karmak did not have a lot of experience on the newly released Windows 8 Store application model, but was able to rely on Advisory Services support to accelerate the development cycle. Pigott says, “The big difference from Windows Phone 7 to Windows 8 was the navigation system and the new asynchronous web services. To design this to work with our applications was taking a lot of time to figure that out...” When Karmak approached PTS for support, the Advisory Services support group helped directly with the coding of the application to a point where Karmak’s developers made the necessary enhancements and published it to the Windows 8 application store. Pigott adds, “…Advisory Services helped code this [application] without us having to spend too much time researching. This saved us probably a month of time that would have been needed to get the ball rolling.”

Karmak also relies on PTS to get answers to other smaller customer questions and internal project requirements. For example, when dealing with specific questions on building customized reports, understanding some of the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services design features, testing or getting familiar with new Visual Studio .NET features, or other questions about new and updated solutions, Karmak’s resolution response time was much faster with Advisory Services support than searching for these answers on MSDN. Pigott explains, “Having the resource available to open a case, have a conversation about it, and close it quickly is worth so much more than trying to spend hours in a day to look up for something that others have worked on and find out that the solution may not even apply to your scenario.”

Benefits

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* We found it [PTS] to be a great service. Typically the issue is resolved on the first call over email, phone, or a sharing session. *

Jeff Pigott
Systems Architect
Karmak

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Resolve Issues Faster

Since 2005 when Karmak first started leveraging PTS, the company has measured a nearly 90% success rate of issues resolved satisfactorily and on time. Backed by this success, Karmak has increased their reliance on PTS with as many as 2 ISV case requests a month. They also occasionally leverage (1 or 2 times per year) pre-sales type support from PTS. When Karmak sends in a request, most known issues are resolved almost immediately by PTS consultants. Explains Pigott, “We found it [PTS] to be a great service. Typically the issue is resolved on the first call over email, phone, or a sharing session.” In addition, Karmak measured a more than 75% savings in time from leveraging Advisory Services Support for resolving their internal project issues or customer questions when compared with trying to find the answers themselves via searching online.

Improve Team Productivity

Taking advantage of their MPN benefit of Partner Advisory Hours for Technical Pre-Sales and Advisory Services, Karmak has been able to gain time in investigating new technologies, working on proof-of-concepts, validating code design and architecture, and finding answers to Karmak-solution-specific customer issues. The company estimates a developer labor hour savings of an average 40 – 50 hours each year by having Partner Services help with some of the above tasks versus having their own developers work on it or spend time looking for the answers. The developers are now able to allocate this time to more productive tasks that align with Karmak’s business priorities.

Improve Quality of Service

Karmak has always aimed at providing top customer service to its clients in a timely manner. With PTS, Karmak has not only seen a reduction in the response time to customer issues, but can guarantee the quality of response. Karmak and their customers can count on receiving first-hand information that is provided and validated by Microsoft technical consultants. The company is also able to leverage PTS for their future design and development needs. They rely on Microsoft’s experience to help make smarter technology choices that help Karmak deliver high quality and innovative solutions to their customers. Pigott sums up his experience working with PTS: “I consider PTS an extension of our Karmak team. They have great resources and are ahead of the curve using new technology; and are ready to support us in our leading edge development strategies.”




Microsoft Services

Microsoft Services helps customers and partners discover and implement high-value Microsoft solutions that generate rapid, meaningful, and measurable results. As the consulting, technical support, and customer service arm of the world’s leading software company, Microsoft Services enables the successful adoption, deployment, and use of Microsoft solutions and technologies for all customers, from the individual to the enterprise.

For more information about Microsoft Services, go to:

www.microsoft.com/microsoftservices  

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com

For more information about Karmak products and services, call (217) 854-4721 or visit the website at:www.karmak.com

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Løsningen - kort fortalt




Partner Profile
Karmak is a Microsoft Gold Competency partner in the United States that provides business management solutions to small and large enterprise clients in the commercial transportation industry.

Situationen

Karmak was looking for advisory support to help their application design and development projects, develop proof-of-concepts, and also respond to specific customer issues, such as custom reports.


Løsningen

Microsoft Partner Technical Services provided Karmak with an opportunity to receive email, phone, and live support directly from a Microsoft consultant on advisory and break-fix issues.


Fordele

  • Resolve issues 75%+ faster
  • Resolve 90% issues on time and on first call
  • Save 40-50 hours of developer labor each year
  • Improve quality of response


Software & Services
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Visual Studio .NET
  • Windows Phone 7
  • Windows 8

Industri(er)
IT Services

Land
United States

Forretningsbehov
  • Support and Services
  • Cost Containment
  • Business Productivity

Udfordringen
Software + Services

Languages
English