Tactical Solutions

ABOUT:

Tactical Solutions provides specialized products and support services to governmental agencies and private companies in New Zealand and Australia. It represents leading manufacturers of x-ray machines, metal detectors, body cameras, and uniforms. In addition, Tactical Solutions offers an extensive range of other products needed for defense, security, and public safety applications in military, correctional, law enforcement, educational, EMS, airport, and corporate facilities.

INDUSTRIES:

Military, governmental, public safety, corrections, EMS, and corporate security.

SERVICES:

Supplies detection, defense, preparedness, and apparel products to government, law enforcement, correctional, security and EMS organizations• Advises customers on equipment purchases and helps them design turnkey security solutions.

LOCATIONS:

Albany, New Zealand

EMPLOYEES: 30 // FIELD STAFF: 4

Tactical Solutions takes pride in building direct partnerships with manufacturers and helping its customers select from the finest products available worldwide. Since Tactical Solutions does not produce goods, service excellence has always been a cornerstone of the company’s success. That is why the field service function is considered a core part of the business. Tactical Solutions streamlined its internal operations by implementing NetSuite in 2015. Until the company implemented NextService in 2021, however, the field service team managed its operations manually.

“Implementing a dynamic system is never really finished; you’re always growing, evolving, and improving. So, it’s a real bonus to have a partner like NextService that shares its product roadmap and is open to customers influencing the product’s direction.”

-Jeremy Leys, IT Officer

Business Challenges

NetSuite gave Tactical Solutions the platform to greatly improve its billing, financial reporting, and other key functions. However, as a broad-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, NetSuite does not fully support specialized functions such as field service management.

  1. Scheduling of service and maintenance jobs remained mostly a pen-and-paper process, digitally supported only by PDF forms and Excel spreadsheets. Consequently, double handling of data was common. Paperwork proliferated, complicated by regulatory requirements for key products. The service manager, who spent a lot of time on administration, sought a solution to make all field service management processes easier and more efficient. A new system, he expected, would also free up more of his time to work with his team in the field and to become more billable himself.
  2. NetSuite needed to be a single ‘source of truth.’ “Management knew we could eliminate a lot of paperwork if we had automated scheduling, job reporting, asset management, and other field service activities linked directly to NetSuite,” said Jeremey Leys, IT officer.

Why Tactical Solutions Chose NetSuite + NextService

Having achieved substantial benefits from NetSuite, Tactical Solutions’ management saw opportunities to magnify the value of the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system.

“Tactical Solutions is not a hierarchical organization. We’re quite cross-functional. So, when we set up NextService, it made a lot of sense to give the entire service team rights to manage the schedule. We can each delegate, collaborate, and move things around. That makes scheduling easier, more visible, and more accessible to all of us.”

“NetSuite served us well and facilitated our growth, but field service management was a missing piece we needed to automate,” Leys said. Management found that NextService was a near-perfect fit for Tactical Solutions’ field service needs. Moreover, NextService is natively built on NetSuite, meaning the entire solution resides on NetSuite’s SuiteCloud platform. The company began implementing NextService in August 2021.

Business Impact of Implementing NextService

In its first year of live operations with NextService, Tactical Solutions is already achieving major benefits.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Simplified case reporting: NextService makes it easy for technicians to record all their time related to each job in travel, billable, and non-billable categories. On the job, they use checklists for some equipment, such as x-ray machines. After techs check off what they did, add any instrument readings or notes, and capture customer signatures on their tablets, the information flows directly into the case report without any redundant entry. New tasks and sales orders can be created in NetSuite, but Tactical Solutions found it is far easier to create them with the NextService mobile app. “NextService has a nicely designed, easy-to-use interface,” Leys said. “If a tech finds he needs parts or a new machine at the site, he simply creates the ticket on the spot with the mobile app.”

“The asset management features are helping us to take on a great new opportunity—the rollout of body cameras on a leasing plan. By 2023, we expect to have at least 2,000 cameras set up on NextService as machine assets.”

  • Greater information accessibility: Managers, field technicians, and back-office personnel can all get the information they need without the hassle of combining pieces of data stored in multiple places. NextService has built-in search, reporting, and dashboard templates that any customer can modify. These are created using native NetSuite tools that NextService and other integrated apps can exploit to provide users with easy access to information. Leys customized the tool’s functionality to meet the company’s specific needs. For example, he created a NextService dashboard to search for unbilled closed cases.

  • Improved scheduling: Most of the scheduled service work is preventative maintenance for x-ray machines and metal detectors. X-ray machines are on six- and 12-month schedules for technicians to check their safety and replace parts. The NextService scheduler feature made it easy for these jobs to be scheduled well into the future. Technicians are now actively using the NextService scheduler to plan out their work weeks. And since Google Maps is integrated with NextService, they can quickly see what jobs are coming up in remote areas and then schedule those jobs for one trip. When a machine asset record is created, most data fields are auto populated, so it usually requires less than a minute for employees to enter any remaining data for the new asset. When a sales order is fulfilled, NextService automatically creates the machine asset in NetSuite. Most data fields are auto populated, so it usually requires less than a minute for employees to enter any remaining data for the new asset.

  • Flexibility for unique inventory situations: Tactical Solutions maintains inventory in multiple locations. Leys defined the Service Department as a virtual location in the NextService mobile app. Specific bins for a particular product in the virtual inventory are associated with the actual locations. This approach has made it extremely easy to track inventory. NextService enabled Leys to replace a manual process for tracking customer-owned inventory stored by Tactical Solutions. These items are now loaded into NetSuite’s inventory for consumption as needed by technicians using the NextService mobile app.
  • Integrated asset management: Tactical Solutions is making extensive use of the asset management features of NextService and NetSuite. Setting up site and machine assets is quick and easy, Leys said. A site asset consists of geographic coordinates, address, and other details of the customer’s location. Machine assets—such as x-ray machines, walkthrough metal detectors, and body cameras— are the equipment the company sells or leases to the customer. In NextService, inventory items become machine assets under site assets upon sales order fulfillment.
  • Flexibility for unique inventory situations: Tactical Solutions maintains inventory in multiple locations. Leys defined the Service Department as a virtual location in the NextService mobile app. Specific bins for a particular product in the virtual inventory are associated with the actual locations. This approach has made it extremely easy to track inventory.NextService enabled Leys to replace a manual process for tracking customer-owned inventory stored by Tactical Solutions. These items are now loaded into NetSuite’s inventory for consumption as needed by technicians using the NextService mobile app.
  • Time savings in the field: “We have reduced field administrative time, including scheduling and call reporting, by about 50%,” Leys reported. “The guys are all using the mobile app, and the feedback we are getting is great. They really like using it.”

“Invoicing is a much smoother process now. Whether a job is done by an individual or a team, all their time is recorded accurately.”

  • Smoother back-office operations: Time savings extend to the back office. Administrative staffers are seeing cuts in the time they were spending on billing, inventory, compliance, and financial reporting. The NextService support team helped Leys create two time-savers for the back office.
    • A “generate invoice” routine links all charges related to a job and consolidates them into one invoice.
    • When a sales order is fulfilled, NextService automatically creates the machine asset in NetSuite, eliminating redundant administrative paperwork.
  • Easier compliance: X-ray machines, a key product line, have rigorous regulatory requirements. With the help of NextService product experts, Tactical Solutions was able to customize invoices to meet those requirements, while also automatically recording each technician’s travel time, after-hours labor, and non-billable break time. For machine assets, NextService and NetSuite keep track of warranties, serial numbers, planned maintenance, service history, software versions, and more. Having all asset-related information easily accessible in one place has greatly simplified compliance for Tactical Solutions and its customers.

“NextService has proven to be a huge time saver for Tactical Solutions. As we grow our business in many ways—such as rolling out a major product line, expanding leasing and rental options, and opening an office in Australia—having a clean, easy-to-use, well-integrated system is vital.

 

[Their] support team has been doing a fantastic job for us. When we ask for something, they respond quickly. They know the product extremely well. They are very pragmatic, and outcome focused. They understand our business and are always looking for the best way to help us achieve our goals.”

– Jeremy Leys

KEY BUSINESS OUTCOMES:

Since implementing NextService in 2021, Tactical Solutions has greatly expanded the business benefits it gained from NetSuite. Key information from field service processes now flows directly into NetSuite without redundant data entry. This table summarizes the challenges Tactical Solutions faced with the old paper-based processes and the benefits NextService has added.

Challenge Outcome with NextService
Inefficient job scheduling led to planning oversights and more trips than necessary to remote areas. NextService gives technicians more visibility into upcoming service needs. They can now schedule one trip to perform preventive maintenance jobs for multiple customers in the same area.
Excessive paperwork prevented employees from working more productively. NextService has slashed administrative time, so the service manager, the IT manager, technicians, and back-office personnel have more time for high-priority tasks.
Employees often had to compile information from spreadsheets and paper files. NetSuite + NextService provide a central, cloud-based platform that makes needed information readily accessible in the desired format and level of detail.
The lack of field service automation was a deterrent to be considered when evaluating growth opportunities. With NetSuite + NextService operational, Tactical Solutions has made its business more scalable, more flexible, and better equipped for growth.
Cumbersome processes for billing and asset management hindered compliance with stringent reporting requirements for x-ray machines. Compliance information is now readily available in NetSuite + NextService for customer invoices and other reporting requirements.