Craig Halliday, chief executive officer of Unanet, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the company's advancements to its customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.
Additionally, he addressed how COVID-19 has impacted customers and businesses, as well as how the pandemic will change processes and the market moving forward.
“The biggest challenge for our customers is the continued uncertainty. For us, we will double down on customer service to ensure that we’re building out that needed functionality, as well as provide useful services to our customers.“
ExecutiveBiz: You recently launched Unanet Connect. How will you continue to grow your solutions to meet customers' needs?
“One of the biggest customer needs is analytics. In the world that we’re living in, there is a lot of uncertainty. There is a strong need for real-time analytics. Everyone needs to be able to adapt to whatever is happening.
Real-time analytics has driven our solutions. We look for anything that makes our customers' jobs easier, particularly with government contractors (GovCons) working remotely. Those functions have really driven where we're heading.
Unanet Connect provides openness, collaboration and connection with our customers' other solutions, which is a large focus for us.
In terms of the process, and how we continue to grow, we listen to our customers. If you listen to your customers, they will tell you what you need to do, and where you need to go. That’s always been a good model for us, and something that we will continue to do moving forward.
It's important that we redesign our products to meet what our customers need, not forcing our customers to fit us. We've been trying very hard to do that and will continue on that path.“
ExecutiveBiz: How has the acquisition of Cosential expanded your offerings?
“Cosential is our CRM offering for the AEC market. Essentially, it is a specific project-based CRM, so for any organization that runs big projects, that’s the best CRM for them in the marketplace.
With the acquisition, we will be able to expand our offerings for our customers from ERP to the front end of the business. They can implement the CRM functionality, which presents an opportunity. Then if they win that opportunity, it turns into a project and they can use the ERP to manage the project successfully.
With successful management, the customer can open a new opportunity for a project, so it creates a continuous cycle. The acquisition was very complimentary for us. We’re very pleased with the purchase.“
ExecutiveBiz: How has COVID-19 driven new solutions and offerings?
“We were very lucky that we were already working towards our new solutions. COVID-19 certainly accelerated our efforts. For example, COVID-19 has really impacted our customers. Many of our clients have taken it as an opportunity to update older systems and processes.
We’ve seen a lot of uptake for customers who were resistant to having solutions in the cloud, who are now seeing the necessity to transfer their data. We’re able to help them do that very quickly. A lot of what we are seeing with COVID-19 is that it's more than the specific functionality, it is the service that we provide to the customers.
We were lucky that in the beginning of the pandemic, we had just rolled out 24/7 support. We were able to give our customers a lot of support during the entire cycle of COVID-19. Many of our customers took advantage of the Coronavirus Response Act. Being able to do the things necessary to take advantage of that is something that we will be able to support them through.
Our software products added that capability, but then there’s the talking people through how to do it. We’ve really been pushing customer forums and virtual education classes, which accelerated throughout COVID-19. Many of our solutions really benefited our customers throughout COVID-19.
We will continue to conduct processes and solutions remotely moving forward. I think people will continue to work remotely, even when we return to normality. I think COVID-19 has only pushed us ahead and we will continue down that path.“
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the best practices for updating ERP systems heading into 2021?
“Real-time analytics and mobile access are two key areas that we will focus on moving into the new year. You have to be able to answer questions that are facing your business and your customers immediately in this kind of environment.
We've focused very hard on advancing those solutions. We also want to enable our customers to work very efficiently in a remote environment from whatever device they choose to use, including desktops and mobile platforms.“
ExecutiveBiz: When looking for new solutions, what technological capabilities should government contractors be looking to expand into?
“For GovCon, the biggest thing continues to be regulatory compliance. We have to make sure that we enable our customers to comply with all the relevant rules. That will always be number one for GovCon. Also, the speed of being able to use real-time analytics and predictive modeling capabilities is very important.
Technological capabilities are important. GovCons are also looking for a really good partner for service and support. Any kind of ERP solution is more than just the technology; you also need a partner that understands your business and can respond to your business.
We’ve focused very much on that and have partnered with our customers through implementation and beyond, which adds greater value from their systems. Customers want more contact, more information and more help to efficiently use the products we provide.“
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the main challenges for Unanet and other federal companies as we move into 2021?
“The biggest challenge for our customers is the continued uncertainty. We don’t know when COVID-19 will end or when it’s going to be safe. For us, we will double down on customer service to ensure that we’re building out that needed functionality, as well as provide useful services to our customers. If we can help them with the job on the other end of the phone, that’s a lot of value that we can provide.
For Unanet, we will continue to focus on the wellbeing of our employees. It has been a long haul at home, so I want to make sure our employees will stay in touch with each other. Simple things like that will help our employees get through this hard time. It’s important for us and most important for our customers as well.“