Customer Service Information

MLx Medidata

Streamlining business processes while experiencing a reduction in paperwork and time required for the customs clearance process.

Executive Summary

Background-- Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, MLx Medidata is a systems integrator offering complete, high-quality computer systems solutions.

Challenge-- Medidata faced a major challenge when importing networking equipment into Brazil. The company needed an invoice tailored to Brazilian customs requirements to minimize the assessment of import taxes.

Solution-- Working with a Cisco customer service project manager located in Sao Paulo, Medidata suggested a "rolled-up" invoice format that could ease the customs clearance process. Medidata's feedback was quickly relayed to Cisco headquarters in San Jose, Calif. and new invoicing formats were generated.

Results-- Medidata has achieved a 30 percent reduction in the paperwork and time devoted to customs issues as a result. In addition, Medidata is now assessed the correct amount of import taxes and no longer faces stiff penalty fines for presenting invoices that do not comply with Brazilian customs regulations.

Cisco Invoicing Solution Expedites Product Importation Process for Medidata

Founded in 1976, Medidata emphasizes a collaborative relationship with its customers to ensure that solutions continue to meet evolving computing requirements. Medidata uses a specialized project team, whose expertise ranges from local and wide area network infrastructure installations to operational systems such as UNIX, NetWare and Windows NT.

Medidata faced a major challenge when importing networking equipment into Brazil. According to Ricardo Marchi, Import Manager, "We have extremely strict foreign trade regulations. All invoices must contain full product descriptions, along with the exact quantities ordered with unit and extended prices." He notes that the arrival of merchandise in Brazil starts a clearance process that includes the assessment of taxes.

When ordering Cisco networking equipment, Medidata received an invoice that included not only the product but also its configuration. For example, an order for the Cisco 2501 router included specific software, board, and cable information, with a breakdown of the prices for each. "The invoice enabled our customs officials to label the product components as spares, rather than as a complete configured router," says Marchi. "These components fell into different tax classifications, which resulted in a substantially higher overall import tax."

In addition, Medidata had to spend considerable time and resources attempting to explain the invoice to customs officials. "We found the entire process very time consuming and stressful," comments Marchi. "We were required to adapt to rigid rules, with no flexibility offered on the other side."

New "Rolled-Up" Invoice Incorporates Medidata Feedback

To remedy the situation, Marchi met with Sandra Souza, a Cisco Customer Service Project Manager handling issues in country and located in Sao Paulo. His suggestion that Cisco create a "rolled-up" invoice tailored to Brazilian customs requirements was quickly relayed to Cisco headquarters in San Jose. One of the invoice options generated by Cisco incorporated Marchi's feedback. The new invoice shows all products as parts of one major product configuration, with one unit price and one extended price for multiple orders of the same configuration. This format works well for Brazil and for many other parts of the world.

Medidata uses the rolled-up invoice along with the Cisco Internet Commerce Applications, available on Cisco Connection Online (CCO), to expedite order processing for networking equipment. For example, Marchi's team uses the Invoice Tool to obtain the electronic version of the remittance invoice, which is then transmitted to the local bank. "We have a currency exchange contract with the bank that lets us transfer payment to Cisco in U.S. dollars," notes Marchi. The Pricing Tool enables Medidata to download up-to-date Cisco global price lists every 7 days. These prices are then run through a custom, in-house program that calculates the final product prices, including importation costs, for Medidata's salesforce.

Medidata Reduces Operating Costs by 30 Percent

The valuable assistance Marchi received from the Cisco Customer Service team helped Medidata ensure a smooth importation procedure. "The rolled-up invoice provides one price for an individual piece of equipment," comments Marchi. "We are now correctly assessed import taxes for products configured as one complete configuration." He estimates that Medidata has achieved a 30 percent reduction in the paperwork and time devoted to customs issues as a result. In addition, Medidata no longer faces stiff penalty fines for presenting invoices that do not comply with Brazilian customs regulations.

An increase in productivity is another benefit from using the rolled-up invoice. "We typically sent two people a month to customs to argue over the import taxes assessed on the old commercial invoices," explains Marchi. "These staff members can now concentrate on their normal work tasks."

The Cisco Internet Commerce Applications also help Medidata cut costs by streamlining the ordering process for the company. The automated system substantially reduces the time required to process purchasing orders. "I can now place twice as many orders as previously," states Marchi. The ability to eliminate the lengthy cycle of manual order generation, printing, and faxing also enables the company to cut overall operating costs by 30 percent. "And, the error margins are extremely low," adds Marchi.

One of the most important benefits for Medidata is the ability to meet customers' networking requirements in a timely manner. "We can access ordering information at any time and any place," emphasizes Marchi. "This capability enables us to supply critical networking products quickly and efficiently."

Marchi emphasizes that Medidata's partnership with members of the Cisco Customer Service organization continues to produce results for the company. "In addition to our customer service contact in Brazil, we have an ongoing communication with Eduarda Costa, a Cisco Customer Service Specialist located in the United States," he says. "Customer Service always responds quickly and courteously to all our requests." Marchi believes that the helpful responsiveness of the Customer Service team has facilitated doing business with Cisco and has greatly contributed to Medidata's success.