Big Sky offers a Store Operations and Facility Management software solution for retailers and restaurants. Big Sky is offered as a hosted solution, which means that Big Sky handles all of the details and provides secure access for all members of the workgroup including Facility Managers and other department managers, Store Managers and third party Contractors.
Big Sky Retail Solutions includes:
- Web browser and telephone access for all members of the workgroup
- Mobile smart phone access for department managers and Contractors
- A unique home page dashboard that highlights items that require attention
- Comprehensive request system that provides:
- Ability to accept requests from Store, District and Regional managers
- Ability to assign requests to department managers based on the content of the request
- Ability to Auto Dispatch selected Work Orders to technicians or third party Contractors based on trade, priority, schedule and other criteria
- New requests can alternatively be queued for manual processing by Facility Managers and other department managers, which includes generating a Work Order and sending it to a Contractor.
- Recurring Work Orders, which can generate scheduled Work Orders automatically for Preventative Maintenance, Janitorial and other scheduled work.
- A Contract module to help manage complex scheduled maintenance processes.
- A Project module to help manage Project budgeting, scoping, the RFP process, vendor selection and approval routing.
- A Purchasing module with a built in Catalog for purchasing maintenance and fixture items.
Please refer to the extensive list of features at the end of this document.
Big Sky Retail Solutions is different from competitor’s offerings in a number of areas.
Big Sky is deployed as a single design for all customers, however it is highly configurable. No two customers use the same system configuration, because no two retail companies have the same workflow, workgroup members, internal processes and controls.
This approach allows all customers to take advantage of new features in each software release while maintaining the unique configuration that fits their needs exactly.
Big Sky’s modular architecture allows Big Sky to add new modules without replacing existing functionality. Contract management, Purchasing and other major modules have been added and additional modules are in development and will be implemented and rolled out.
Call Center Concepts and Approach
Big Sky supports a wide range of options for handling incoming calls from stores and contractors.
Big Sky includes an Automated Telephony Service that answers calls automatically from Store Operations personnel and creates new Work Requests. The Store Manager can specify the Type and Trade of the request along with the Priority. They can record a message, which is converted into an audio file and attached to the Work Request. Facility Managers can then playback the audio message from the web interface by clicking on the audio attachment to listen to the voice request.
Store Managers can also call in to check on the status of an existing request, and to sign off on completed work.
Call Center agents can use Big Sky to create new requests during a phone call and generate Work Orders quickly and easily.
Some customers use a combination of these approaches where a traditional Call Center is available during business hours, and the automated system takes over after hours and on weekends.
Whether the Work Request is created automatically or by a Call Center agent, the Work Request can either be queued for a Facility Manager, or a Work Order can be automatically generated and Auto Dispatched directly to a Contractor.
Contractors can also use the Telephony Service to acknowledge new Work Orders and check-in to begin work, and check-out when work is complete.
Customers that don’t have Internet access in their stores are able to support their Store Managers very well using the Telephony Service. If internet access is available Store Managers can use either interface at any time.
Big Sky can provide a dedicated Toll Free Number for each customer, or customers can redirect their existing Toll Free number to our system.
Operational Approach and Process
Big Sky is much more than just a software solution. Big Sky’s hosting and customer support is included and ensures that your users can do their jobs without having to worry about system support issues.
From initial setup to ongoing operations, Big Sky works with your team to make sure the system is operating as expected, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Big Sky handles all software and hardware upgrades and no software is required on user’s computers other than a standard web browser.
Each customer has their own Production and Test systems allowing the customer to preview all changes before they are deployed to production. The Test system is also used for training so all features of the system can be exercised without actually sending Work Orders or Purchase Orders to contractors and vendors.
All software releases undergo stringent internal testing and external testing to make sure all new features work properly and existing features continue to work as expected. All testing must be complete before customer systems are updated.
Big Sky’s software development and release/deployment processes are audited annually to ensure the team’s operations are compliant with Big Sky’s SSAE 16 Controls (see additional information regarding SSAE 16 audits below).
Big Sky is contractor agnostic. Our customers select their own contractors, and contractors are only added to the system when requested by the customer. Big Sky may recommend contractors when asked by our customers, but we can only comment on how well they work with the system and not how well they perform work.
Big Sky develops and hosts our Retail Solutions suite on IBM’s Lotus Domino web platform. Domino includes a very robust database model, unparalleled security, workflow features and scaling that match up well with retail and restaurant operations applications in general and with Big Sky solutions in particular.
Telephone access is developed and hosted on Big Sky’s Remark! Voice Servers, which integrate directly with IBM Domino making telephone access and voice recordings an integrated part of the solution.
SSAE 16 and Sarbanes-Oxley
Big Sky’s development and hosting team has undergone SSAE 16, and or SAS70 audits for the past six years making Big Sky one of the leading Sarbanes Oxley compliant facility management software products available. Whether a public or privately held company, it’s important that your third party software solutions undergo SSAE 16 audits that include stringent controls regarding data confidentiality, privacy, development and hosting processes. SSAE 16 compliance is no longer an option for most public companies due to Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.
Service Level Agreement
Big Sky offers a robust SLA that ensures customers have access to their data at all times, and that their data is stored safely and securely. Service guarantees are included and maintenance and upgrade windows are defined.
It is critical to Big Sky’s success that each and every customer is successful, which means that they are managing their facilities efficiently and effectively. It also means that the end users (Store Managers) are able to complete their work quickly and easily. If our customers are not happy they are free to move to another system at any time.
Support and Services
Big Sky’s Customer Care services are included as an integral part of the solution. Each customer has access to our live support personnel during all phases of setup and operation. Urgent issues can be reported at any time and Big Sky uses it’s own technology to ensure members of our team are notified about new problems and can take the appropriate action at any time.
Big Sky also offers additional System Administration support. Big Sky can handle your routine system issues such as adding new users or contractors, so your team doesn’t have to deal with these tasks and can use their time more effectively resolving maintenance issues.
Big Sky includes “Train the Trainer” training during system implementation. Additional training services are available to help train your facility managers, contractors and store operations personnel.
Big Sky also develops custom applications that can be integrated with Big Sky Retail Solutions or as a completely separate application. Some examples include surveys, disaster reporting and recovery and corporate helpdesks and hotlines.
Some customer examples include:
- Pubic Storage (~2400 locations) – In additional to utilizing the Repair and Maintenance features, Big Sky is used to manage all Capital Projects including budgeting, the RFP process, vendor selection, reporting and work order generation and processing using the Project module. Public Storage uses electronic invoices to streamline invoice submission, approval and export to accounting.
- Office Depot (~1400 locations) – Office Depot has deployed Repair and Maintenance, Contract Management and Fixtures Purchasing for all store locations. Office Depot is also using electronic invoicing to manage invoices for all three modules.
- Chevron (~1000 locations) – Big Sky works with 2nd Site to provide call center and facility management solutions Chevron locations throughout California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. This is an example of how Big Sky’s software can be used seamlessly with a call center solution.
- Estee Lauder brands (over 7000 locations) – Estee Lauder has implemented Big Sky’s solutions to handle requests from all of their branded stores including Aveda, Origins, MAC Cosmetics, CC Stores, Jo Malone and their counter locations throughout the United States.
References for these and other customers are available upon request.
About Big Sky Technologies
Big Sky began in 1991 as a voice products group within a large data communications company, chartered to build products which bridged the public telephone and corporate data networks. The group designed, developed and patented the first network-based voice and telephony server. In 1994, the “voice products group” was spun out of the parent corporation as a private California corporation to pursue opportunities in the voice and telephony marketplace.
Soon after, Big Sky introduced a broad range of interactive voice response (IVR) applications tightly integrated with software applications running on the corporate data network. During the next three years, Big Sky developed many network-based IVR solutions for benefits enrollment, candidate screening, response surveys, collateral fax back, time and attendance reporting, event registration, help desks, and work ticket generation. To many of these applications, a web-based user interface was added to address the communication needs of the emerging workgroup computing marketplace.
In 1999, Big Sky transitioned its business model to become an Application Services Provider (ASP) and focus on solutions that automated the Facility Management process for Retail chains. eWorkOrder™ was introduced to the marketplace in 2000 as a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. It provides an extensive communications infrastructure for the facility management workgroup, automates facility management processes, and captures a complete service history in a set of centralized databases accessible by all members of the workgroup.
Big Sky’s eWorkOrder product name was changed to Big Sky Retail Solutions in 2011 to emphasis the systems ability to help retailers manage not only their facilities, but all aspects of store communications including Merchandising, Store Operations, and Facilities Purchasing.
Big Sky Features
|Core System Services||Role Based User Accounts|
|Home Page Dashboard|
|Escalation and Notifications|
|Notes and Messaging|
|Interface to Customer Systems|
|Interface to Contractor Systems|
|Repair and Maintenance||Work Requests|
|Scheduled Maintenance||Recurring Work Orders|