The Silicon Review
By creating, receiving, routing, reviewing, or approving documents manually, companies nowadays are working too hard to get the job done. Over the years, digitizing files and using a document management software has become a significant part of a company’s business. By automating those processes, companies significantly cut costs and improve business efficiency.
Founded in 2000, Vista Solutions Group (VistaSG) is a document management workflow automation solutions provider. By combining paper records into images and data, their software helps organizations eliminate manual processes so that staff can focus on other important tasks, allowing more work to be done in less time.
The company roots were established as a government contractor, supporting document management software for justice departments across the US and Australia. By 2006, the company developed its own system, netDMS, to give users a more configurable and powerful platform. Then, following an unexpected loss of their Founder and CEO in 2011, management faced a crucial challenge; survival. The surviving owners felt the company would be best served hiring an outsider. By 2012, new management began the process of rebuilding. That meant positioning the company to expand into non-justice departments, developing new products, and taking more control of their financial performance by selling directly. That plan has paid off and the company is again planning to expand. Only this time to go further into the private sector.
As a result of this shift, the company first marketed it’s well-regarded netDMS as a stand-alone solution. They quickly learned the meaning of value from their customers. Customers became tired of paying for 100% of a software, that they only used 10% of the features. And staring at all those daily was more aggravating than helpful. Listening to customers, and clearly understanding what they wanted became the inspiration for its dms3 solution, which launched late 2015. dms3 has exceeded expectations since buyers recognize its simplicity but also power. It is no wonder VistaSG gained more clients and users in 3 years than it had over the 15 previous.
Interview Snippet with Michael J. Hundley, CEO of Vista Solutions Group
Q. What challenges did the company face in its initial years?
Our biggest challenge initially was to recover from the unexpected, tragic loss of VistaSG’s Founder, Jim Boyington (and wife, Mimi,) and regain the trust and confidence from customers to not give up on us.
Today, our biggest challenge is meeting demand without losing sight of the need to innovate and stay competitive as a value-added solutions provider in this space.
For example, when I first came on board, the market we served was resistant to cloud-based technology platforms. Today, those same customers expect to see their next update or upgrade as a web-hosted or in the cloud solution.
For Our Peers: So, when clients or the market says to do or not do something, and they often say it with gusto, be sure to listen. But also lead. Probe, clarify, question and then clarify again. When it comes to technology, we have learned that clients cannot always articulate what they need.
Q. How the clients’ feedback has motivated you to shape your offerings and grow the company?
We sought out clients’ feedback aggressively post 2011. We were adamant to understand, specifically, the needs, wants, and desires of our users. Thankfully, they were willing to give us their input. Some was good. Some was not so good. Some was downright ugly. However, and with extreme intent we listened. And with more intent and urgency, we responded and took action quickly. Because of our customers and users, we thrive today. They help us be better providers, developers, and team members, which has made us formidable competitors. Having a collaborative relationships and the desire to serve our clients, prospects, and staff, is now in the DNA of our company.
Q. Between ever-changing network, system, and application needs, many IT leaders don’t know what they really have — even when they think they do. How do you manage to resist/ serve the needs of a highly volatile market?
With all managers, turning chaos into productivity is our job. With IT leaders, the rapid changes are like no other. It tests them constantly. So when they shift to adapt, it gives them a false sense of security.
When we consult these partners, they explain that it creates a “self-inflicted identity crisis!” Meaning trying to move too fast actually destabilizes them, and takes them completely off the path, resulting in having a bunch of things that don’t always give them gains. We consult to help resist these pitfalls, and we also practice what we preach.
We promote focusing on their core business, objective, and take inventory of what they have, need, and want. Then, we help them align their mission with that inventory, and decide what to keep and not keep. Doing that then allows us and our clients to then fill in the gaps.
From there, we talk about future needs and trends to put on a watch list. But we try to avoid investing in trends at the expense of ourselves and our clients unnecessarily by reacting.
That said, we have some clients that are amazing experts in their fields, who are pretty brilliant at navigating the technology markets; and are forward thinking. Those clients often give us a leg up on the competition when it comes to enhancing our solutions as well as staying on point.
Q. Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?
True. We expect culture of professionalism and candor. And feedback begins in the hiring process. We weight the “willingness” attributes over skill or degree type. These candidates prove to be employees who are more trainable, coachable and have staying power. We are diligent about employee satisfaction through constructive feedback and on-going training, because it yields satisfied customers who recognize we go above and beyond for them. In the end, we can even measure our feedback effectiveness by clients who buy from us, then continue to buy more and also start to refer others to us.
Q. What makes Vista Solutions Group a leader in the industry?
It’s never cliché for us to say we value our customer relationships and believe it. We couple that mindset with expecting ourselves too to be more efficient. That leads to developing client driven solutions, excellent customer service and it makes us affordable to do business with.
But if you want to know how we think we lead in our space, then our clients will tell you this: VistaSG’s solutions are easy to use. They put in features we need. They don’t “nickel-and-dime” us customers (like competitors).
The Future Ahead
VistaSG has a bright future. The company launches a first of its kind software in Q1 2019. Buyers, using a tutorial, will be able to purchase it, download it, configure it all on-line. The company says it is disruptive making it akin to investors wanting to trade online, while only using a full service broker when they had to.
The company believes they will attract a large market of independent user types, who want next generation technology, but don’t want to pay next generation prices. But if those same customers want some full service support, they’ll have access to it.
Also, voice command, bot, and machine learning technologies are being applied to reduce user manual processes. Eliminating keystrokes, mouse clicks and time for humans to attend to menial tasks is their mission. The company loves to tout their mantra: Let us make your work life easier! It is clear that Vista Solutions Group surely does for their clients.
Meet the Leading Man
Michael J. Hundley, Chief Executive Officer:
Michael came on board in 2012, following the tragic death of the company’s founders in 2011. He previously served as CEO for holding companies, including Choice Asset Management and CACH Management & Research. He is a Value Driven manager who focuses on re-mediating distressed businesses. Known as a passionate shareholder advocate, Michael says he is both optimist and realist. But colleagues describe him as a determined, unflappable leader who uses levity for focus.