Bermuda Import & Export Case Study

SituationBermuda Import and Export, Blue Link client

Bermuda Import & Export is a family owned business, started in 1949 as an importer and exporter of miscellaneous items. It continued much the same way until the current President, Graham Fowle (grandson of the original owner) expanded the company lines, starting with the addition of produce and alcohol. Continued growth produced a wider range of merchandise, and Bermuda Import & Export now carries produce, seafood, groceries, alcohol, dry and frozen goods, some dairy and meat. The majority of goods are perishable items. Bermuda Import & Export has 25 employees.

Bermuda is a small market, (21 sq miles) so the company sells to all available outlets, which include restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, resorts, clubs and convenience stores. There are no retail sales direct to consumer.


The company’s accounting and inventory control was running on a Real World SCO UNIX application, a text-based package which was 8 years old – with the most recent update in 1998. Real World opens many individual data files and needs a specific environment to run properly.

For Bermuda Import & Export, this system of managing inventory and accounting was keyboard intense – and used a great deal of paper as screen shots were not available, so printing out the data was the only way to analyze the information.

Pre-printed forms were used for ordering, with costly reprints for each change in pricing. And it was not possible to run reports or to make queries directly from the database.

No historical data was available. And two systems were used for accounting – RealWorld for Accounts Payable, and General Ledger and CounterPoint from Synchronics for inventory and accounts receivable. The server had crashed a few times. The Real World and Synchronics applications were time-consuming, cumbersome applications.

Bermuda Import & Export had also been without a financial controller for over two years, and they felt they had to find an alternative solution that was more efficient.


The company decided to investigate new accounting and business management packages, including:

  • A low-cost accounting program for small business, with payroll functions, reports, analysis, program help, and transaction processing. It was rejected as not powerful enough for the company’s needs.
  • A business-management solution built on a Microsoft platform. It offers e-commerce, supply chain, manufacturing, project accounting, field service, customer relationships, and human resources. It was rejected as having too many options – a lot of the program’s applications would be wasted and it was seen as overkill for their needs.
  • Blue Link Elite is an integrated accounting, business management and Inventory Management Software solution. Elite uses Microsoft SQL-Server for the back end database, and scales from single-user to dozens of concurrent users, and handles large transaction volumes.

According to Financial Controller, David Potts, Blue Link Elite “Just seemed to fit – it was exactly what we wanted.” The Landed Costs feature was especially critical to Bermuda Import & Export, as the company imports 90% of its items, making Landed Costs and Customs into major cost items.

In addition, it was important to be able to integrate the various hardware and software programs (including Windows ’95, 2000, and XP), and the Unix server.

Cost was a critical factor in choosing the new accounting package – as David Potts remarks, “There was consideration of every penny spent.” Training costs in particular were important. Local training was considered too expensive – rates are very high for skilled IT people. There was talk of bringing someone in to train Bermuda Import & Export staff – but Bermuda is an expensive place, and cost for accommodation alone would run at least $300 per day. Blue Link’s remote installation seemed to be the ideal solution. The cost of international telephone calls was a fraction of the cost of hands-on installation and training as suggested by other companies.

Remote Installation and Training:


David Potts has some technical knowledge, which, he says, made the installation “relatively painless.” Blue Link purchased the hardware, installed the software and then shipped the whole package to Bermuda. Data was sent to Blue Link, which also set up the network, and tied it into the computer system at Bermuda Import & Export.
“We were very pleased with the installation – we were told where the challenges would occur.”


There was some initial resistance to Blue Link Elite – mainly because some of the employees had over 20 years in the industry, and were resistant to any change. But Blue Link had stressed that the training was critical to the success of the implementation – and David Potts continued to stress that to the employees. The first week was tough – there was indeed a lot of information to take in, and to get a feel for what the software could do. Added Potts, “everyone in the company was used to the old system, and were accustomed to being able to blame any failings on the old, out-of-date software – with the new Blue Link Elite installed, that excuse was no longer viable.”

The process gradually became smoother although the complete data conversion took longer than initially anticipated; for about three months, both systems were being used.


Ordered in April 2006, the installation and training was complete by November 2006.

David Potts says, “I’m amazed what Blue Link Elite lets me do with the data, including accessing reports that simply couldn’t be done before.”

He cites a salesman asking for – and getting – such previously unavailable reports as an analysis, by customer, brand, amount, cost, changes, month, and day.

He says that “We haven’t even touched some of the things it can do – it’s great knowing the other options are there.”

Costs have reduced significantly – less paper being used; pre-printed forms no longer necessary; landed costs and custom information readily calculable. “The old system allowed selling to negative numbers, but Blue Link Elite doesn’t allow that, so old habits had to be cleaned up.”


BIE operates in a self-identified ‘loose’ structure, but is aware of the need for some basic controls – “Blue Link gave us that structure, and the software changes as people change – it’s a nice balance.”

As an example, David Potts recalls one man who has been with company for over 35 years – long before computers – and he is an expert on landed costs and customs. He is also close to retirement, and there was fear that would choose to retire early as opposed to learning new computer skills, but instead, “he has found Blue Link Elite simple enough, and intuitive enough, to take it on right away.”

The Remote Desktop feature is in constant use, even from office to next-door office. Problems can be solved immediately without need to go to the other computer – and people can be trained to solve their own problems.

David Potts says that, after that first week, “everyone was really pleased with the new system”. He adds that, “getting Blue Link Elite was the best decision I’ve made, and that Bermuda Import & Export has made, as it really has helped us out.”