The company expansion was undertaken in a relatively short time period, simultaneously opening its new facility in Irvine, supporting a manufacturing operation and more than 10 sales agents, arranging support for the multiple remote locations, while also maintaining the existing Fairfax site. Management would require 24/7 access to system data from multiple locations and while traveling.
Originally, the Fairfax VA office took care of all activities: stock control (receipt, storage, and shipping); telephone orders received and entered in the books; and all accounting. One person controlled invoicing and accounting entries while another individual took the telephone orders, pulled product from the shelves, and shipped orders. There were 3 sales reps on the road.
The company expansion meant that the accounting system would need to handle multi-users, track lot numbers, and deal with multiple stock locations (consignments). Additional challenges included geographically dispersed users; the need for multiple languages for products and terms; manufacturing; and control of user access rights.
In addition, the proposed employment of Canadian sales reps meant the system would have to deal with multiple currencies; international sales would be handled in $USD. And in an extremely competitive market, the sales reps would need to access real-time knowledge (customer accounts, product information, and trends) through a multi-server system allowing multiple and simultaneous users log in.
Purchases and all operating expenses were incurred in $USD, although expenses would be incurred in $CAN when a Canadian office was opened.
Pricing would be from a standard price list with customers receiving discounts that might not apply to all products but to groups of products; the separate Canadian price list would be in $CAN, and dealers and other large customers would have unique pricing. In addition, customers and products would have different taxes, varying by jurisdiction.
Product tracking, using lot control, would need to track sales by lots in the event of a recall of product; with dental products, every batch produced must carry its individual batch number. Inventory control had to cover various situations: individual tools with separate part numbers would be sold separately, and bundled in defined kits and shipped as such; major customers would carry large inventory consignments, and the sales representatives’ saleable car stock would also be included as part of the company’s overall inventory.
The existing accounting system was QuickBooks, which was quite inadequate for the expanding company’s needs, while the need for financial statement reports (income statement, balance sheet) threatened to overwhelm the built-in financial report generator. Exporting data to Excel and manually manipulating some financial statements from there was extremely time-consuming.
As a multi-location company, Southern Implants needed to develop a user-friendly system enabling it to rely on the accuracy, detail, and speedy delivery of business information.
Mike Nealon, Southern Implants CFO, set a target of six to twelve months to find the right system and get it implemented and working seamlessly. He made a list and started searching.
- Quick learning curve
- Highly intuitive
- Good GUI – graphical (rather than just textual) user interface
- Efficient data conversion process for rolling existing data into a new system
- Fully integrated; minimal need for 3rd party add-ins
- Few workarounds
- Proven program, low likelihood of problems
- Minimal need for custom work
- Good data transfer in and out
- Good user and group access control features
- Good multiple pricing options for sales
- Multi-currency (as Canadian business could be substantial);
- Multi-warehouses to accommodate the consignments, car stock with representatives, and additional company locations;
- Departmental tracking of revenue, costs of sale, and expenses for each sales territory;
- Ability to select either open item or balance forward methods for individual customers;
- The ability to deal with instances of temporary negative stock; and
- Good back-order tracking on both the purchasing and selling.
In addition, it was necessary to generate a good selection of both financial and operations reports, plus the ability to modify reports with relative ease, handle budget data (preferably multiple versions and multiple years), and keep legacy data open for access by report writing programs.
Nealon started looking at various accounting systems, concentrating mostly on the larger names. But his search was disappointing: “I did find a lot of systems,” he says, but adds “they were systems that cost a lot of money, and they were all missing at least one or two vital things on my list.”
Nealon felt very confused with the similarity between all the mid-market systems, and by their inability to match up to all of his requirements.