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BigChange, the mobile workforce management company, today announced the appointment of industry expert John Mills as its first dedicated Corporate Sales Director.

Mills, a former transport and logistics lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, joins BigChange from US-based video telematics specialist Lytx, where he led its European enterprise sales efforts. He previously held senior business development positions at Microlise and Masternaut, as well as operational roles in the logistics sector.

This appointment signals BigChange’s intention to expand its footprint in the big business market, where organisations have previously relied on legacy workforce management and telematics technologies requiring lengthy installation and integration programmes.

With its scalable, cloud-based JobWatch system proven at 1,200 customers around the world, BigChange expects that a growing number of large organisations in sectors such as logistics, field service, hire, construction, and facilities management will increasingly turn to its technology as their existing systems reach the end of their useful life.

Martin Port, founder and CEO of BigChange, comments: “We are delighted to welcome John to the team. He has a wealth of experience and contacts in the industries that we serve best, and deep understanding around how to shape our offering to make it even more attractive to large corporate customers.”

John Mills, Corporate Sales Director at BigChange, comments: “BigChange has made waves in many sectors by making high-end mobile workforce management technologies available to a far wider range of companies, helping them to compete more effectively, drive efficiencies, and deliver fantastic customer service. BigChange’s functionality far exceeds what can be obtained elsewhere in a single package, and there is a growing appetite from big businesses to take advantage of JobWatch as part of their digital transformation efforts.”

Over 1,200 organisations and 40,000 individual users currently use BigChange’s pioneering mobile workforce management, JobWatch, which combines CRM, smart job scheduling, vehicle tracking, and a series of mobile applications to eliminate paper records, automate manual processes, and facilitate collaboration between companies on the go.

A start-up is like a baby. When it is first born, you have to do everything to keep it alive. And, when the new company finds its feet and thrives, you really do feel as though the organisation you created and nurtured has a life of its own.

When I founded BigChange seven years ago, I had big ambitions for my new baby. But it was only in 2019 that I realised just how big this kid could get. As the year draws to a close, I’d like to share some of the highlights (and lowlights).

Setting the standard

I’ve posted about my ambitions to enter to corporate market with BigChange. Achieving BSI ISO 9001 and 27001 is a big part of being able to handle huge, multinational clients. The ISO 9001 proves that BigChange is fully committed to building quality products and services, while the 27001 accreditation shows that we are capable of handling data securely and effectively. We have also been awarded platinum partner status by Sage. These were major milestones in the development of this company.

A great place to work

The BigChange Team are a truly amazing group of driven individuals and a pleasure to work with. BigChange was ranked in the Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to Work For’ in 2020, proving that we are an outstanding employer. We are pioneers in creating work / life balance here, moving to a 4.5-day working week in 2019. We have also had some extraordinary speakers for our Motivational Monday initiative during 2019, from Kevin Keegan OBE, the football star and manager to Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell and model turned entrepreneur Caprice. Our commitment to creating a brilliant working environment helped us to recruit 60 new people this year.

Delighting customers

Our BigChange JobWatch system has gone from strength to strength this year, and I’m delighted by the depth of functionality we now offer customers. This is why we now have a record 40,000 users on the platform. We won 300 new customers this year, and an extra 100 came to us through the acquisition of two exceptional companies, Trace and Labyrinth. Our regular “shop floor” days make sure I’m tuned into the needs of BigChange’s customers. The newly created BigChange Network has provided a space where these customers can meet and share best practice and advice. That’s been a huge success. Big thanks to all our customers for being so supportive this year.

Charitable work

Building a profitable business has enabled BigChange to make significant charitable donations. This year, we gave more than £200,000 to incredible charities. Our seasons greeting card supports Transaid life-saving work in Africa, promoting driver training initiatives which improve driving standards, ensure safer vehicles and reduce the number of deaths on the road, which is the third biggest killer in sub-Saharan Africa following HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Standing out from the crowd

Winning awards helps to build buzz and get the brand noticed. BigChange has won a whole lot of awards this year. From the LDC Most Ambitious Leaders to the Sunday Times Tech Track, the Maserati 100 to the Tech Nation Fast 50, I’m delighted and humbled that so many people think we’re doing a great job.

Surviving technical challenges

In February this year, we had to undertake a wholesale redevelopment of our production environment. BigChange had grown so quickly that our architecture was starting to creak. It’s a testament to the wonderful relationship we have with our customers that they were understanding and patiently allowed us to work out the kinks. A big thank you to everyone who helped make the transition a success.

Going global

We founded BigChange France and brought on board a BigChange Cyprus reseller this year, and are slowly building market share in both territories. We continue to make progress in the US too, and I have just returned from a trip to Los Angeles where I spent time with prospective clients to find out what they need and how we can make their lives easier. I hope to continue delighting users all over the world next year.

Sharing knowledge

Given that I am dyslexic, I’m very proud to have written around 40 blogs this year on LinkedIn. A huge thank you to everyone that had liked, shared or commented on my posts. I enjoy hearing from all of you. I wish you all seasons greetings and a happy healthy 2020.

One of the downsides of taking BigChange Stateside is the time difference between the UK and the US. I’m over in Los Angeles right now, and I can’t seem to sleep past 3am.

I’m writing this from a hotel room. It’s pitch black outside and my phone keeps buzzing with emails from the UK.

There’s no way I’m going back to sleep so I’ve decided to use the time wisely: to write about my experiences expanding into overseas markets.

There are a lot of tips out there for entrepreneurs expanding beyond their home borders. The usual ones include things like, ‘Always get on a plane’ – I get on lots of planes. They also tell you to expect cultural difference and it’s true, one size does not fit all when it comes to rolling out a product or service globally.

But there is one all-important point that never seems to get a mention. You must – and I mean must – make sure that all the process and best practice that you have painstakingly built up in your domestic market is transferred to new territories. Otherwise all is lost.

That’s one of the reasons I’m in the States. BigChange is planning on making major inroads here and we already have a couple of customers. I want to make sure that our nascent business is following the processes and brand guidelines that I’ve put in place in the UK.

It’s critical for a couple of reasons. First, is the Net Promoter Score. This is the holy grail for modern companies. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the NPS, it’s an index that ranges from -100 to 100, and indicates a customer’s willingness to recommend your brand to others. It’s source of enormous pride for me that BigChange has a score of 60 in Q3, which means we offer outstanding customer service.

It’s easy for customer service to be eroded by expansion. Too often, companies chase new business without thinking of what kind of experience those new customers will have. Everyone must follow our rules, with no exceptions. Especially when it comes to RoadCrew – our customer service function. This impacts everything from how we interact with customers, to how queries are handled, and the speed of our response.

One of our best routes to market out here is through existing customers; they will help us make connections through their networks. That means we have to be doing a brilliant job, consistently.

The second reason that process is critical is because it maintains efficiency. When you are building a business that is based on automation, you need to follow the rules or else new layers of complexity somehow find their way into the system. Rules can be reviewed and updated regularly but, ultimately, they are sacrosanct.

Luckily, we use our own JobWatch software, which allows us to bake in the processes that we want followed and to check that every ‘i’ has been dotted and ‘t’ crossed. We are expanding both through proprietary sales and through resellers and distributors, so without checks in place it would be easy to lose control.

These are the things I think about when I can’t sleep, and I’m far from home. At least it stops me thinking about the Election tomorrow.

Got any unusual tips on expanding overseas? I’d love to hear them. Please share them in the comments below.

We’ve introduced a new feature to help you quickly access information on key features in the JobWatch platform.

Here at BigChange we invest time in ensuring that there are Help Centre articles – and sometimes videos – to take you step-by-step through how our features work.

JobWatch now includes a ‘floating’ Help Button, providing easier access to specifically relevant content. The button has been designed to show content from the help site applicable to the page you are on when you click it, as well as a useful search box.

This great new feature makes it easier for you to access the help exactly when you need it!

Take a look at the video included below for full details of this new feature:

Utopia Furniture Group has rolled out a 5 in 1 cloud-based system from BigChange that combines mobile apps including electronic POD and vehicle tracking, with customer relationship management system (CRM).

After the successful implementation of BigChange as a real-time transport management system, Utopia has now begun extending BigChange to improve back office and sales force automation.

Utopia is the UK’s biggest manufacturer of made-to-order bathrooms. Established for over 25 years and employing 190 people, Utopia designs and builds high quality bathroom suites, bathroom furniture and accessories, supplying through an extensive network of over 600 specially selected retailers across the UK and Ireland.

David Conn, MD of Utopia Furniture Group, comments:

“At Utopia, we found a niche in the market with fitted bathrooms and we have always strived to be the Master of what we do,”

“We have developed a unique build-to-order manufacture and logistics business and that requires us to innovate and invest when it comes to technology. It’s that technology that ensures we retain a competitive advantage.”

Utopia has developed a bespoke enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to underpin its growing business but needed to further automate logistics and especially the transport operation. BigChange was introduced initially to provide electronic Proof of Delivery (POD), having replaced their existing system.

Conn explains:

“When we discovered BigChange we realised that their technology was way ahead of anything else. What particularly appealed to us was the fact that they had an end-to-end solution that would provide seamless integration of our delivery services with our sales, manufacturing and business functions. Previously we suffered from having disconnected silos of data and that was frustrating. BigChange was also much more affordable so we did not hesitate to switch.”

Utopia drivers are equipped with Zebra ultra-rugged enterprise touch computers that run the BigChange JobWatch App that includes delivery and collection reporting, with line item fast scanning and electronic proof of delivery ePOD, timesheets, expenses and vehicle inspections. With a 28-strong fleet including drawer bar trailers and drop bodies, deliveries are made to retailers and trade customers across the UK from Utopia’s purpose-built manufacturing plant and HQ in Wolverhampton.

Conn adds:

“We really like the fact that BigChange is easy to customise,”

“It means you can get exactly what you want and that’s important in view of our fairly unique business process that involves literally thousands of different, often bespoke, items being loaded on each vehicle for delivery. BigChange offers a complete delivery consignment solution.”

BigChange has already been implemented to manage all transport related activities, provide real time tracking and electronic PODs, with vehicle inspections, driver performance monitoring and a link to route optimisation through comparing actual with planned journeys. With integration between Utopia’s delivery planning and Oracle ERP, BigChange CRM is now being implemented to manage the sales function.

Carl Darby, IT and CRM Controller at Utopia, says:

“BigChange CRM is perfect for us providing exactly the functionality we need. It’s a lot easier to use and less costly than other solutions,”

“Of course, it is also part of the wider BigChange management and mobile solution so has the added benefit of being seamlessly integrated with everything we do.”

With the adaptability and wide scope of the BigChange system, Utopia took advantage of help offered by BigChange for implementation and embedding.

Darby who also praised the ongoing support, continues:

“This suddenly made implementation much easier,”

Darby adds:

“The support provided by the BigChange ‘RoadCrew’ team has been exemplary, with someone always available to pick up the phone 24/7 and that support is available to anyone including our drivers. Getting that level of personal support is a rare thing these days.”

Conn explains:

“We set a high bar when it comes to our suppliers and for us it is very much about a working partnership. BigChange demonstrated that they wanted to be part of our business and from the start it was clear they were receptive to working with us. In fact, we were behind the development of their POD solution and were the first adopters of it.”

BigChange Utopia van

When you need to fill a role at your company, it may be tempting to bring in an outsider. You may think that newcomers bring skills you haven’t seen yet, insight from competitors, or new ways of tackling problems.

Over the years, I’ve learned that, while hiring from outside the company can be beneficial, it’s often a much better idea to look closer to home.

Here’s why:

At BigChange, our people know the business and our customers inside out. They know my priorities, as a leader. For me, customer experience is paramount. It takes time for new arrivals to understand our culture, and time is something fast-growth technology companies don’t have a lot of.

When you bring in big names from outside the business to fill senior roles, it demotivates the team. When you promote from within, everyone sees the potential to grow and pursue a long-term career at your organisation.

There are people here who started in Roadcrew and have then gone on to take senior roles. They are inspirational figures, helping junior members of the team to dream big!

Hiring through recruiters is expensive and I feel that money is better spent incentivising our people to keep growing and learning new skills in bigger, better roles.

The big promotion

We recently filled a senior position with an internal candidate, and it’s been a major coup for BigChange.

Last January, I bought a company called Labyrinth, creator of an award-winning cloud-based logistics compliance tool (now the BigChange Audit feature).

The company was co-founded by Jo Godsmark and Ruth Waring , a logistics and supply chain specialist. I’m delighted to announce that I have now appointed Jo the Chief Operations Officer of BigChange and Ruth will become Managing Director of BigChange Advisory Plus the former Labyrinth business.

I’ve known of Jo for a while. She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) and the chair of the board of trustees for Transaid, a charity I am passionate about. She comes from a big business background – she’s held roles at Mars and Ford.

Seeing the impact she had within Labyrinth, I knew she would be the ideal COO of BigChange. She’s entrepreneurial, empathic, and is highly technical – she’s a chartered engineer.

She is already driving efficiencies here at BigChange, helping our hard-working teams to get the resources they need to keep improving service. She is also as passionate about corporate social responsibility as I am.

It’s been a real joy to bring Jo up through the ranks of BigChange this year. When we bought Labyrinth, we did it because of its brilliant product and people but also because of the cultural fit between our two companies. When looking for a new COO, we could have tried to poach someone from a rival but Jo ‘gets’ BigChange: she gets our mission, she gets the company dynamic, and she gets me.

The next time a senior position opens up in your company, don’t automatically call your recruiter. There may be someone in your organisation that would be perfect for the role.


Martin Port
Founder & CEO

BigChange

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