Custom Software Development Done Right
Published by Scott Kuhne on April 25, 2016
As users of business software, we’re too familiar with the aches and pains of assimilating our daily work activity into a computer system. To most users, computers are a necessary evil to getting work done. Systems increasingly slow us down and take more from us than they return in the form of efficiency. Everything seems to take longer for no apparent benefit. Systems grow older, slower and more disconnected from their ability to keep up with today’s expectations. Most of us have come to accept that… or not.
This type of challenge was faced by Jeff Bennett, Co-CEO, and his Albany, NY division of Direct Retirement Solutions, Inc. called “Government Contractors Benefits Trust” (GCBT). Jeff was kind enough to provide insight to the challenges his team faced, alternatives they considered, and what solution they chose.
“GCBT business grew over 60% [and] we’re on track to grow an additional 50%”
Q: What does Direct Retirement Solutions/GCBT do? A: The GCBT provides highly specialized employee benefit plans for construction companies and contractors that work for federal, state and local governments. Often those contracts include regulations (i.e. Davis Bacon Act, State prevailing wage laws) that mandate workers receive prevailing wages and benefits. This presents challenges to contractors as they require good advice as well as a partner to manage the strategy, execution, accounting, and reporting of optimized benefits to all of the parties involved.
Q: What influenced your desire to pursue custom software development? A: The old system was developed in MS Access. This legacy system worked well for 15 years, but started stretching its limits. Enhancements became more complicated and error prone. We knew it could be better for our internal users, our clients, and their employees. The leadership team recognized an opportunity to grow the business but realized we needed to take a big step up in technology, look and feel.
Q: What were the alternatives? A: We could have done nothing, endured the challenge of doing enhancements or handled the nuances between clients using carefully coordinated but labor-intensive spreadsheets. No off-the-shelf systems came close to meeting our needs. That would actually be easy, since many of our competitors use simple systems. But we had a vision for how things would work together and chose Gavant Software to help us get there.
“Prospective clients get to see the actual customer portal and its features.”
Q: What was the experience like? A: We enjoyed working with Gavant because we like working with smart people. The team took everything we said to heart, were very diligent, and provided milestones of progress so there were no surprises. We felt like we had more than a vendor but a business partner. Communication was good. As we neared the end, we had weekly status updates. We liked the collaboration that comes with a dedicated team, also the flexibility and thoughtfulness of Gavant’s approach. As a big picture guy, I was fortunate to have a great internal team to express the details the development team needed.
Q: What has the result been? A: We went live in May of 2015 and finished the biggest year overall in the company. GCBT business grew over 60%. In 2016 we’re on track to grow an additional 50%. We actually use the system as part of our marketing. Prospective clients get to see the actual customer portal and its features. This provides a very professional look that our competitors can’t match. We operate more efficiently since it takes our staff less time to process transactions. We save thousands of dollars of printing and mailing statements as 95% of clients prefer real-time online lookups or to print their own pdf statement. Audits are easier for everyone since all of the supporting documentation is attached to transactions. Once onerous reconciliations now take a fraction of the time. We were even able to re-write our procedures into a training guide so new employees come up to speed faster. Most importantly, we get to listen to our clients and incorporate their feedback into the system to assure their future satisfaction.