Not only was the development of subscriptions a success but all five countries went live on IBS Bookmaster within a tight 5-month implementation period. IBS Bookmaster software is now used by LexisNexis in seven countries. IBS spoke with Mervyn Van Zyl, CFO of LexisNexis, South Africa, to find out how business was progressing five years after the original implementation of IBS Bookmaster.
You were involved in the initial decision to invest in IBS Bookmaster. What was it about the system that won you over?
It was publishing-specific and it had a far more comprehensive approach to our industry requirements compared to a few other publishing systems that we explored.
When you originally implemented IBS Bookmaster what were the obvious benefits you experienced?
Prior to IBS Bookmaster software, processing orders was extremely time consuming. Implementing this publishing system resulted in a much speedier turnaround time. Now we’re able to process priority orders within a mere 12 hours and normal orders within 24 hours.
What is your view of IBS Bookmaster as the publishing system continues to be further enhanced?
Firstly, we are a subscriptions publisher and not a book publisher. IBS Bookmaster software initially tended to better suit the needs of general publishing. And although we have utilized the overlapping fields like royalties, book distribution, book production, order processing, financials etc. – the major development that most benefited our business is the Subscriptions management system. It caters for our requirements perfectly.
Since you implemented it five years ago, how well does subscriptions work in the real world?
It works remarkably well and has had an all-round positive effect on our business. Previous time-consuming and labor-intensive manual processing is now automated from creation of orders to renewals and invoicing. We are also now able to easily create, view, modify and manage subscribers and products. Of course, this has meant that the entire subscriptions program runs very smoothly resulting in enormous savings in both time and staff resources. It has also reduced the potential for errors.
You recently invested in IBS Bookmaster’s e-Commerce (B2B & B2C) as well as the Business Intelligence (BI) system. How beneficial have they been to your business?
We bought both systems last year and I must say that BI has been an incredible tool for our business. I would go as far as to say that we haven’t bought anything for a long time that has provided us with such immediate value. We can now produce more in-depth reports which assist in our marketing efforts.
Can you give us an example?
Yes, last year BI enabled us to effectively implement a new product called Fixed Service Plans (FSP). FSP offers customers the choice of receiving one invoice with one charge as well as access to an intranet service, “My LexisNexis”. However determining the correct single fee for every customer was a huge problem. We needed to be able to extract from IBS Bookmaster software the total amount a customer spent with us. These transactions were extremely difficult to source and analyse prior to BI implementation. For example, one of our customers, Standard Bank (a major South African bank) has over 400 separate accounts with us. Utilising BI, in 15 minutes we were able to link all of the bank’s branches to clearly show their total spend.
Once we showed customers how much money they were spending overall and how much it was costing them in administration costs to process these orders individually, they were keen to utilize our FSP product.
What makes BI such a powerful extension of IBS Bookmaster is its ability to provide us with concise information quickly which in turn allows us to confidently implement our business objectives.
What about the IBS Bookmaster e-Commerce system?
While we still haven’t exploited the full potential of e-Commerce, we’ve had some excellent results so far. We utilise the B2B and B2C features. In the first three months of this year we achieved the same turnover (in processing orders on the internet) that was achieved in 12 months last year.
Why such a good result?
The old (E-commerce) system wasn’t user-friendly. It was tedious and lengthy and often annoyed customers. It was easier for them to simply fax the orders to us. So even though we received the same number of orders they were not done via the internet, using the e-Commerce system.
Your previous e-Commerce system wasn’t linked in real-time to your publishing ERP system, (IBS Bookmaster), and this also would have created disadvantages?
Yes that was the biggest problem! Using the old system, a typical order started with it being printed off the site and handed to the Order Processing department the following day. If the credit card checks etc. were approved, the order would get to the distribution system the following day and be dispatched. That’s already TWO days - assuming there were no hitches which could delay the process further. With the current e-Commerce system everything happens in real time! The customer orders online, credit card checks are done immediately, the order is authorised and within the hour the product is ready to be shipped!
What else do you like about IBS Bookmaster’s e-Commerce system?
Well, its features speak for themselves. We’ve got pictures; we’ve got blurbs, all within the core IBS Bookmaster system. Customers can not only track their orders but also generate copies of their invoices, credit notes and statements. So, it’s working really well, though I’m certain its full potential has not yet been exploited.
What benefits, if any, do you think you get from being on the ALPU (Annual Licence Program Upgrade)?
The most obvious benefit is that we have access to great ideas from other IBS Bookmaster users which we have implemented to improve our business. An example of this was adopting the way Deferred Income was managed by an Australian company. This has proved to be a huge advantage for us, while other publishers have since benefited from our input, not least the Subscriptions management system.
One last question. How do you view the IBS Bookmaster system now that you’ve been using it for quite a number of years?
IBS Bookmaster software is like a ‘silent hero’ in that we can get on with our business without worrying about what’s happening in the background because the system works seamlessly. We’ve also requested further enhancements in the IBS Bookmaster system and are looking forward to their fruition. One such enhancement is the addition of a subscription scheduler – which I suspect will mean that we’ll have the best subscription management software in the world!