Meet the LowCoders: \n Cari Funk of Western Disposal

ImageCurrent Role: IT Director

Experience: 20 years of experience in IT; including tech support, DB Design, solution architecture and business analyst roles

Business Challenges: Automating heavily manual processes and creating an intuitive interface

Integrations with K2: AS/400, Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM

K2 is so cool because: It allowed us to bring together multiple data platforms in a record amount of time

Hobbies: Detach from the keyboard and get creative — whether it’s cooking or crafting

Dream Concert: Counting Crows. No matter the cost, rain or shine

Bucket List: Crossed off running a marathon in 2012. Next is to spend a week on Turtle Island in Fiji

Customer Cari Funk digitally transforms a 46-year-old company using K2

Handwritten memorabilia can carry sentimental value. Cari Funk’s cooking is often inspired by dusting off the recipes that her grandmothers carefully wrote out and passed along to her.

“It’s like reaching back into their history and pulling it into the present day,” she says.

While handwritten notes may make good memories and meals, they’re less effective for mission-critical business data, a fact Cari is keenly aware of. When she first joined Western Disposal – a trash, recycling and composting service – as a business analyst and even when she moved up to her role as IT director, the company was still heavily paper-based and bogged down in time-consuming manual processes.

She recalls a flood in Boulder, Colorado, three years ago that caused heavy damage in the company’s service area.

“Roads were washed away and some houses were wiped out. Our drivers had to go out on their usual routes and physically record on paper all the changes in location of pickups, blocked streets, houses that were gone, etc. That was a very manual and brute-force process for us. Getting instant digital updates would have been invaluable so we could reroute the drivers as new information came in.”

It wasn’t only the drivers who were slowed by these outdated methods. Internal teams, from accounting to sales, were struggling with the laborious processes as well.

“It used to take six months to train our inside salespeople on how to set up a new customer. We would give them a four-inch binder and expect them to memorize it, which was not an ideal process for them or us. That’s why we originally wanted to go out and find a product like K2.”

It didn’t take much persuading to sell the Western Disposal team on K2. Cari had a sales representative put together a demo, and the managers instantly pointed at the screen and said, ‘That’s the one we want!’ K2’s interface was appealing to users while also being flexible enough to use a lot of the functionality and data structure from Western Disposal’s existing systems, such as its Dynamics CRM platform.

After discovering K2, Cari and her team immediately got to work on a new customer setup process with the help of SmartForms.

“We have certain services that are not offered in certain locations, so we let the SmartForms decide that based on information from different data sources. So when a customer calls in, our inside sales team enters an address and service. Then using the integration we’ve enabled with K2, the results are displayed in SmartForms and informs the customer service person, ‘Hey, you can offer this type of service there.’ Or, ‘We can’t collect compost at this service location, so don’t sell it to them.’ Using K2, we were able to reduce 29 screens to one SmartForm.”

Cari also leveraged SmartForms to better serve Western Disposal’s customers. Depending on what type of service a customer requests and where they’re located, the SmartForms can calculate the information to let the sales team know when the customer’s first day of service will be.

To an outsider, a project of this scope may seem almost unthinkable. However, to demonstrate K2’s ease of use, Cari shared a story about Sean, one of her employees.

“It’s kind of a Cinderella story. Sean was hired five years ago as tech support. He’s a self-taught tech person, and most of his experience comes from being curious. I needed to pick someone to be completely immersed in K2, and Sean volunteered. Within six weeks, he was already churning out SmartForms that mimicked our work processes. Zero programming background. Zero business analyst background. Productive within a matter of weeks. Sean is now the lead on the K2 product.”

Using K2, Cari and her team are transforming Western Disposal to a digital business. And everyone is eagerly waiting to see the results when all of the new processes roll out on February 1, 2017.

“It’s going to be a culture change, from the ground up. We started out with handwritten Rolodex cards and hadn’t gotten too far from that, until now. Some of our drivers have been here for decades, so giving them something other than a book of paper is going to be huge. Many of them are so excited to have technology that will help them do their jobs better.”

The next part of Cari’s journey will be to investigate mobile for her drivers.  Today, they VPN via laptops so she’s excited to see what may be possible with new devices and more process automation with K2.
Thanks for sharing your amazing story, Cari! Can’t wait to see how K2 helps transform Western Disposal’s business processes.

About Western Disposal
Western Disposal is a locally owned company offering trash, recycling and composting services to Boulder and Broomfield Counties since 1970. It assists customers in responsibly managing their waste and offers safe, clean, dependable and professional service, while pursuing best practices in environmental sustainability via on-site operations and investment in energy-efficient technologies.

Western Disposal uses K2 to automate processes including new customer setup, AR adjustments & credits and container inventory management.

Intrigued by Cari’s experience or work with K2? You can reach her at, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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