Questex revamps billing system

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Robert Rybak has been VP-publishing operations for Questex Media since it was carved out of Advanstar in May 2005. He's currently leading Questex through a switch from Quark to InDesign and recently oversaw a revamp of the company's billing system.

MB: Why did the billing transformation take place?

Rybak: Publications were in one system, trade shows were in another. All of that information would have to be input into our billing system. So we had three different platforms running, and our billing system for publications was not stable.

MB: How long did it take?

Rybak: Eight months. There was one person from our IT staff, a handful of people from the production staff, and a person from our expo billing side. They would have multiple meetings every week. I had staff members who would work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, just to make sure that we were able to use all of our same reporting that the sales department expects so they can predict numbers. We were looking for something that would help us better calculate, better project numbers and be a little more user friendly.

MB: Do you think you succeeded?

Rybak: I've been at this company long enough—when it was part of Advanstar and Edgell Communications and way back 20 years ago when I was an evening clerk at Harcourt Brace Javonovich—and when we went to the billing system we used previously. I had staff members who would literally sit there and cry because it was so hard to learn. During training [on the new system] I asked one of my employees how everything was going and he said, "Nobody's cried." I take that to be a good sign.

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