Getting to That Aha Moment: Growing User Adoption of MITS

Submitted on: Wed, 05.27.2015 07:30pm - Annie Eissler |

This post is a continuing conversation with Richard Cook, President and COO of Johnson Supply, George Giudici, President and Andy Weith, consultant and retained Acting CIO of Crescent Parts & Equipment, and MITS’ President Gary Owen on the strategies behind deploying MITS business intelligence in the HVACR industry. (Part 2 of 3)

Gary:  Richard, you mentioned the need to grow the use of MITS at Johnson Supply. Can you talk about that—why did you start to feel that more people needed to be using more of your reporting and BI solution?

Richard:  It has become a general trend in business—and our company in particular—that more data as opposed to more emotion is needed for growth. Many of our management conversations became centered around data: “What’s the data on that?” or “What do the numbers say?” As a company, we had to transition our decision-making approach from one based a lot on art and a little on science to a lot on science while also accommodating to need to also apply, experience and gut instinct. Simply put, we  needed to make more decisions with less emotion and more data.

As that became the standard for conversations across the company, more people needed access to the data. Now almost every one of our management department heads use MITS. Every one of our sales managers uses MITS. Our regional managers use MITS. Our salespeople have customized queries they use for specific products or customers.

We use our data to support some of the conclusions we’ve developed, such as “Why is this particular person a core customer?” The answers are in the data that we already have.

Our warehouse leaders started using MITS on the inventory side because, again, our Epicor Prelude ERP system didn’t offer the kind of customized, on-the-fly queries on inventory that they needed.

Our purchasing people started using the inventory module in MITS this year because their constant need for updated data drained our ERP system. What with so many people trying to access inventory data we were constrained from both a bandwidth and data processing standpoint--our ERP system is just not particularly suited for this type of data crunching.

Andy:  Decisions being based on emotion rather than fact really resonates with me for Crescent Parts. In the very near future, we’re going to be rolling out MITS pricing analysis module which will help us turn around staff who say, “This product can only be sold for a 25% margin.” Now we will have the facts to back up our position: “What if I showed you all the other reps selling this product this for a 30% margin 99% of the time? Then you’ll believe me, right, and do the same?”

Gary:  That’s a good point. What I wonder about that, though, is how do you help someone get through that transition from being an emotional or intuitive decision-maker versus a data-driven one? Richard, your company has been data-driven for a long time. Is there a middle ground?

Richard:  There has to be a middle ground. We never lack emotion, but the balance is usually on the data side. It is extremely important to consider decisions from both a qualitative and quantitative point of view. You can definitely go too far in either direction. There’s data, and then there’s wisdom, and wisdom doesn’t come from just data.

Gary: To me, even if you have all this data coming out the ERP system, you still have to understand who you’re selling to, what you’re selling, and the market environment that you exist in. The data just becomes another key piece of information you can use in your business.

Andy: It is all about getting to that “aha moment.” You can see the look in the users eyes when they no longer wonder “What am I using this tool for? It doesn’t make us any money. It doesn’t make me any money. How is software going to tell me how to do my job?” That’s not what we’re trying to do with MITS. What we’re trying to do is present our users with data that points them in the right direction, to give them something they need to pay attention to and then go find the answer that only a human can do.

In one of our user adoption workshops, one of our sales reps was going through an exercise focused on growth opportunities in their smaller accounts, a concept that had never really occurred to him. Could a $10,000 account tripling in size every year really be worth as much time and attention as accounts that are over $100,000 or $250,000 in value? That was his “aha moment”, when he recognized, “Wow, there really is value behind the MITS solution. If MITS can show me the things that I need to pay attention to, I can take it from there and apply my experience to it.”

George: Adding to that, we have begun to send out homework assignments, so to speak, and the only accepted reply is the data extracted from MITS. We are forcing our staff to go find different customer metrics in MITS and to report back. I think these exercises have led to what Andy spoke to, the “aha moments” when the light goes on and they finally see, “Okay, I can easily drill in to find some good data that’s relevant to my job, to my business life.”

Read Part 1, stay tuned for Part 3 of the conversation, or listen to the complete webcast on reporting and analytics in the HVACR industry.