Gillman & Soame are the UK’s most established photographic company specialising in the totality of School Photography, involving both portraits and groups. They have been a valued customer since 2003, using our legacy digital workflow.
With a growing need to expand their volume photography workflow capabilities as the business grew, Gillman & Soame migrated to MaxLab in March 2019. Our team continues to work closely with Gillman & Soame to ensure MaxLab delivers a tailored workflow software solution that meets the business’s very specific and niche requirements. Gillman & Soame have deployed MaxLab across the 2019, 2020 and 2021 school photography seasons.
Beccy Tombs, our Marketing Manager recently met with Gary White, Director at Gillman & Soame to find out more about the onboarding process and how we worked together to help increase operational productivity:
What prompted you to enquire about MaxLab?
We were existing customers, using their legacy system for many years. Due to an overhaul of the system and the rising need to increase workflow and productivity, it was a necessity to improve our systems.
Did you consider other options and why did you decide to go with MaxLab?
We did. As with any large-scale business choice, it was imperative that we investigate all avenues to ensure we are making the best choice not only financially but from a production standpoint also. Our main reasons for choosing Maxlab were as follows;
- Migrating was always going to be an exacting task but we felt that Maxlab was the most streamlined approach, without negatively impacting on current workflow.
- Familiarity with the Halsys system for existing staff was paramount to avoid disruption to current and future workflow.
- An extensive and impressive showcase at Halsys HQ outlined the potential of Maxlab. We presented many, many queries and potential possibilities in terms of production. This highlighted the flexibility and ongoing software development to support our business needs.
Before you migrated to MaxLab, what was the level of your business operations and how were you hoping to develop?
As we’ve already mentioned, we had a growing need to expand our workflow capabilities as the business grew and could no longer afford to be held back by previous software restrictions. We had bottlenecks that needed addressing and a new approach meant that these had to be addressed to achieve the level of output required.
Can you tell me more about your specific requirements and how you have been able to integrate MaxLab into your existing operational systems?
We had an existing Halsys database, using their legacy system. Moving to Maxlab allowed us to migrate this data into our new Maxlab Database. Anyone in the position of handling this data merge will know that this is a large-scale task and potentially very troublesome, especially if something goes wrong. Halsys supported us through this merge and continue to do so now, as we upgrade our local storage. This support and ability to merge our old database was essential to the smooth running of our production and will have saved hundreds of hours of labour, allowing us to focus on current and future orders.
Growth and the ability to expand our production capabilities were always our main priority but of course, as an established business our existing product specifications had to be achieved. The flexibility of the software allowed for us to not only continue our product lines but to improve the rate and efficiency in which we approached them.
Due to the sheer scale of workload that we face in our busier times, we rely heavily on automation. Without this, we would not be able to meet productivity demands in the required timescale.
Can you give more detail on how you worked together with the team at Halsys to find the optimal solution for your business? Have these solutions evolved since working together?
We started with an initial visit to Halsys, to showcase Maxlab and its capabilities. As Maxlab was still in early development, we visited again with a large and detailed list of requirements at a later date. All of our needs were met with open minds and added to their development pipeline. If anything, MaxLab exceeds our base requirements but we had many specific niche requirements to maximise workflow. I believe we were early adopters of the software and we most certainly jumped in at the deep end. While Halsys hit some snags, as with any large-scale shift in software they were with us every step of the way using Slack to constantly communicate and aid with our needs. The software has been developed and moulded to our very specific needs over the course of time we have been using it. There have been multiple occasions where I have expressed a new workflow idea specific to us, a different way of processing images or handling data and each time Halsys have endeavoured to implement new features to fulfil our needs.
In your opinion, what factors set Halsys apart from competitors?
From our experience using other, similar software, I have found Halsys incredibly approachable and friendly to work with. All queries are met with in-depth and respectful conversation and I believe Halsys now have a very competent and stable product for large-scale production.
Some words from Greg Hodson, Halsys…
Gillman & Soame were our first large-scale, truly high volume user to migrate to MaxLab. One of the most pressing requirements was the ability to integrate existing systems with MaxLab. We worked with Gillman & Soame’s other software developers to ensure that our API provided all of the tools they needed for those systems to communicate with MaxLab through a well-defined standardised interface – MaxLab’s API (Application Programming Interface).
The final push to get the system in and running in August, just before the Autumn season began, was high-pressure and all of the teams involved rose to the challenge. Halsys are quite accustomed to integrating systems; and dealing with 3rd party development agencies. We align our goals with the goals of our customer. This is one of the reasons that some of our most long-standing customers have been dealing with us for decades.
Gary, many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!
MaxLab volume photography workflow software continues to evolve as our highly skilled developers continue to meet the individual requirements of our clients, across a wide variety of industry sectors. If you would like to find out more about how our team can help transform your business, please get in touch.