Industrial Training International

ABOUT ITI:

Industrial Training International, known as ITI, is North America’s leading provider of hands-on training for crane, rigging, heavy lift and load handling activities—and is now working to extend that reputation internationally.

ITI became the first training company in North America to have its instructors and curriculum accredited by the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), based in the UK. In 2021, LEEA named one of ITI’s trainers as the best trainer of the year.

In 2022, ITI partnered with the National Safety Council to offer a Construction Hazard Identification certification, the first virtual reality course accredited by ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to meet global certification standards.

INDUSTRIES:

Construction, manufacturing, distribution, and other industries involved in handling heavy materials

SERVICES:

  • Hands-on training for crane operations, rigging, and other load handling jobs. Options for training may include online, on-demand, and virtual reality.
  • Working with customers who need ITI’s load handling expertise for special situations, such as safety audits, accident investigations, and expert witness engagements

LOCATIONS:

  • Headquarters: Woodland, Washington
  • Training centers: Woodland and five other cities in North America

EMPLOYEES: 50 // FIELD INSTRUCTORS: 12

ITI conducts over 200 training programs annually at client sites and over 70 programs in open-enrollment programs at six training centers in North America. The one-to-five-day programs develop workforce skills in crane, rigging, and load handling activities.

ITI employs 12 trainers, supplemented with independent contractors. They crisscross the U.S. and Canada for training events, safety audits, accident investigations, and consulting assignments. Sometimes trainers travel to client facilities in Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, and South America.

ITI’s management knew the company needed major technology upgrades to support its market leadership position. After evaluating multiple ERP and field service management systems ITI selected NetSuite and NextService, completing both implementations in 2021.

Business Challenges

ITI has long used a learning management system to register individuals for its training programs. ITI also used QuickBooks for accounting and Salesforce for CRM.

However, ITI did not have any system to support a key revenue-generating aspect of its business: managing the logistics of client-site and open-enrollment programs. Manual operations included instructor scheduling and managing shipments of training materials and equipment. To obtain their schedules, trainers opened Outlook to view limited information—a place, a time and date, and little else.

As ITI expanded, the need for automated scheduling also grew. Management wanted a robust and flexible scheduling program with far greater capabilities, such as filtering on trainers’ skills and certifications.

In addition to streamlining its scheduling processes, ITI also wanted to overcome deficiencies in its accounting, reporting and analytical capabilities. For example, with three ITI entities in the US, Canada, and the UK operating disparate QuickBooks systems, currency conversions and consolidated reporting were time-consuming. Likewise, commission calculations were cumbersome, requiring 40 hours of manual calculations every quarter.

 

The NextService implementation team was great. They quickly resolved any issues and made the implementation easy. Having done many implementations, I can honestly say this one went very smoothly. – Christina Lanham

Why ITI Chose NetSuite + NextService

ITI began searching for a new ERP system in 2019 to replace QuickBooks and Salesforce and upgrade many processes.

“We evaluated several ERP platforms,” said Christina Lanham, Vice President of Operations and Information Systems. “NetSuite checked way more boxes than the others, so it was the best fit for us. NextService, we found, would be our best solution for keeping track of scheduling events and everything associated with event logistics. Plus, NextService has the huge advantage of being built on the NetSuite platform.”

Lanham recalled several NextService features that impressed her during the evaluation project:

  • NextService would help managers select the best trainer for an assignment by filtering those with the right skills.
  • The NextService mobile app would give trainers easy access to complete information about upcoming events, without making phone calls or logging into NetSuite.
  • Trainers would be able to enter notes, time, and expenses on the mobile app—again, without the need to open NetSuite.
  • ITI staff would be able to easily set up and reuse logistics information for customers with multiple locations.

Business Impact of Implementing NextService

In 2022, Lanham reviewed the results ITI has achieved since implementing NetSuite and NextService in 2020.

ITI can easily find the right person for the event

NextService has built-in skills filtering. By quickly identifying employees with a particular set of skills and experience, a manager can schedule a person who meets an event’s unique requirements. ITI captures employee skills that go beyond their certifications and the courses they have taught. For example, ITI is often retained by attorneys to provide expert witness testimony and by corporations to audit their load handling processes or investigate an accident.

Trainers gain mobile access to their schedules

With the NextService mobile app, trainers can view their schedules from their phones and get much more than the skimpy information they were getting on Outlook. They can also enter notes, expenses, and billable time, all of which are accessible in NetSuite.

“Without logging into NetSuite, trainers can see where they are going and when, customer contact information, and shipment tracking information. That’s a huge gain for people who are traveling up to 250 days a year,” Lanham said.

ITI customizes NextService to user preferences

For both onsite and open enrollment programs, ITI uses colors to distinguish confirmed events from those that are tentative. Lanham also set up custom fields to make it easier to determine a trainer’s upcoming availability, particularly on weekends.

I can look at a week and, at a glance, I know what’s happening, who is going where, and what they will be doing. I can see exactly what’s going on in the company. – Christina Lanham

Scheduler has company-wide uses

Lanham summarized how vital the scheduling function is to ITI’s business. “Of our 50 employees, about 40 are regular users of the NextService scheduler. Our whole operations team needs to see it to be able to pack, ship, book, and travel. The sales team and our customer success team need it for booking. Our executive team wants to know how we are doing, so they use it to see bookings for the months ahead. And our instructor team wants to see where people are now and where they will be on specific dates.”

Tracking assets is much easier

ITI uses NextService extensively to track assets used in training. NextService treats each customer as an asset, and each asset can have one or more specific addresses. “Customer-specific or address-specific logistics information is entered just once,” Lanham explained. “That’s been a big time-saver for us. The training location and the shipping address may be different than the billing address, so keeping all this straight avoids confusion and prevents potentially costly mistakes.”

Fast access expands financial visibility

NetSuite and NextService provide fast access to information—and they make access easy for anyone with a need-to-know.

“We now have better insight and accountability,” said Lanham. “Before, very few people had access to QuickBooks. It was hard to find out, ‘Was an invoice sent? Was an invoice paid?’ And now it’s all very visible. Having more people being able to see the financial transactions has been a huge benefit to the company.”

Benefits expand with integrated systems

Having all financial, invoicing, scheduling, and asset management data on one platform has proved to be a major benefit, Lanham said, citing commissions as one example.

Before, key sales information resided in both Salesforce and QuickBooks. Calculating quarterly commissions required tedious number-crunching of every line item on every invoice.

“Now figuring commissions is all done on the NetSuite platform,” she said. “Events, orders, invoices, and related records from both NextService and NetSuite are all tied together, so it’s easy to find out when an invoice was paid, what was shipped, is this a new customer, etcetera. It’s all one big ecosystem.”

Looking Ahead

Lanham wants to expand ITI’s use of NextService features in 2023. Her plans tentatively include:

  • Getting greater employee utilization of helpful features.
  • Scheduling demo units. Currently, ITI is manually scheduling its demo units, including virtual crane simulators. By scheduling these in NextService, ITI can reduce administrative effort and gain visibility into current asset locations and upcoming commitments.
  • Automatically adjusting schedules for time zone. This will minimize the chances of human error.
  • Tracking returnable inventory. This requires maintaining serial numbers of shipped assets so that Return Merchandise Authorizations can be issued.
  • Maintaining carrier tracking numbers. Maintaining tracking numbers in the scheduler enables trainers to immediately get proof of delivery without contacting headquarters.
  • Option to lock scheduled events. Some trainers had complained of ill-advised changes to their schedules, so ITI is working with Next Technik to implement a solution.

KEY BUSINESS OUTCOMES:

Since replacing legacy systems with NextService and NetSuite in 2021, ITI has modernized event scheduling and eliminated many inefficiencies. This table summarizes the challenges ITI faced with the legacy systems and key results being achieved with NextService and NetSuite.

Challenge Outcome with NextService
Many people throughout ITI needed event information but few could access it. NextService provides easy, fast access to anyone with a need for scheduling and event logistics information. Color coding, skill filtering, and other user-friendly features add to the system’s appeal for ITI employees.
Legacy accounting and CRM systems could not efficiently support many reporting needs, such as commission calculations and consolidated financial statements. NextService is native to NetSuite’s powerful platform, giving ITI more reporting flexibility, more data analysis capabilities, and greater visibility into information useful across the company.
No systems addressed event scheduling and logistics. Trainers had to log into Outlook to see limited scheduling information. With the NextService mobile app, trainers can access their schedules and related information on their cell phones. They can also enter notes and capture their time and expenses on the mobile app.
Trainers looking for shipments to training sites could not easily get proof of delivery. Traveling instructors and office staff can use NextService’s asset management features to keep track of materials and equipment.
ITI had time-consuming, error-prone manual processes to manage customers with multiple locations and different addresses for billing and training. ITI minimized confusion and potential mistakes with NextService’s asset management features.