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Friday, October 10, 2008

PEiR Group Member Learns That, Sometimes, It Really DOES Take A Village

By The PEiR Group

About a year ago, longtime PEiR Group member Al Rank, CEO of Precision Blue in Chicago, chafed at the data processing delays and labor costs his firm was experiencing when loading jobs into PlanWell®.

“Renaming and indexing files with sheet number and description for entry into PlanWell was taking far too long,” Al says. “It wasn’t about the application, it’s great. But we’re always under a time constraint, it seems, and we needed a way to expedite the data entry process.”

Al’s search for a solution would take him nine thousand miles away – to the Philippine Islands. At the time, he had no way of knowing that his approach to the problem would ultimately streamline his job intake, benefit several impoverished Filipinos, and improve the future outlook of an entire town.

Renaming files is probably not the best use of anybody’s talents, as you know. It’s a menial task but an extremely important one. Ultimately, Al connected with Cliff Parrish, a neighbor and CEO of RemoteLink – a Naperville, IL-based company specializing in enhanced telecommunications and Web services.

“I’ve known Cliff for a couple of years now,” Al says. “He told me about their wholly owned subsidiary in the Philippines that provides data entry jobs and education to the impoverished people there. We make our files available to them before we leave at night, they rename everything, enter it into PlanWell® and our team walks in the next morning and it’s done. It was perfect.”

In place for more than a year now, the partnership gives Al’s team at Precision Blue a head-start on their PlanWell jobs for the day and provides jobs and education for residents of San Pablo City – a tin roof “barangay,” or neighborhood, about 65 miles southeast of Manila.

“We train people to do software programming and data entry work providing them the opportunity to rise above what could be viewed as a hopeless, certainly impoverished existence,” Cliff says. “When we first started we held a workshop for people to learn new tech skills and when it was over we ended up hiring four of them. Now we have eight full-time employees with high expectations of future growth.”

A relationship with a local college provides a steady stream of applicants; however their goal is to provide educational opportunities to those who cannot afford higher education. To establish this goal, RemoteLink Philippines, Inc. also provides for a K-12 school to operate within their facility. Although the school is run by another Filipino organization; RemoteLink Philippines employs some of their teachers to teach computer skills in the specially designed computer lab.

“Education was an important aspect of this idea,” Cliff says. “We asked: ‘How do we educate and elevate the next generation of leaders?’ The entire program is ‘ground up,’ with no government assistance.”

As for Al, making the connection with RemoteLink and the Philippines was a definite “win-win.”

"This has worked out absolutely great for us, giving us more time to bid on more jobs, and benefitting others in the process," he says. "What used to be an annoying part of our intake process is now being accomplished, literally, overnight."

Note: Al always tells it like it is, has a taste for innovation and gives something back when he can. This idea may work for others. If so, you might contact Cliff Parrish at RemoteLink. You can reach Cliff at: 800 362-9446 x127.


Anonymous said...

Cool concept and I can see it working. any issues with the "outsourcing" thing? Security? I realize this benefits people on the other end and is a more attractive solution, but I wondered if taking jobs abroad was an issue these days?

The PEiR Group ( said...

Data transfers conducted via a secure link-up, so no worries there. Al reports perfect data entry processing by RemoteLink staffers enthusiastic about the work. Apparently, they have taken to adopting their "favorite" architects and projects and have an interest in the process. And, of course, several people are able to earn a living as a result of the relationship. Editor

Al Rank (Precision Blue, Inc) said...

It is a cool concept and its working great for us. The "outsourcing thing" never was an issue to me because it allowed my highly paid staff to focus on revenue producing projects instead of getting distracted with this administrative task. A great advantage for PBI.

Regarding security, my IT staff worked with Remotelink to address this issue and came up with a solution that satisfies our security policies.

The PEiR Group ( said...

Thanks for writing, Al. Great to hear from you, as ever, and thanks for answering the previous poster's question!