Reducing paper, streamlining the work and producing better financial results
Article 2 in 4-part series
When it comes to providing solutions that help small businesses manage their finances and other information, Intuit QuickBooks is typically the first choice. This decision usually occurs just after the business determines what sort of productivity and messaging (email/voice) solutions will be used, and more often right after the first revenues are earned which need to be accounted for.
For most small businesses, having a copy of QuickBooks is how the company tracks the money.
What’s interesting is that most of these small businesses really operate outside of the financial application, doing the actual deliverable work using some other type of solution. Finding a way to support the work performed in the business and then having all that information flow through to the accounting system isn’t always easy.
On the one hand there are the people, resources and activities which make up the work, but there are payroll, billing, expenses and cash management activities that result from all that work. Tracking it all in a meaningful and affordable way was exactly the challenge that Jeff and Donovan Sachs faced with their business, Alembic Computer Services, Inc.
Alembic Computer Services is among those small businesses that use QuickBooks for financial management but not to actually support the wide variety of processes that make up the business.
ACSI, also known as the QB Resource Center, sells QuickBooks software and provides custom development and implementation services to customers throughout the US. The team at ACSI recognizes the benefits of applying the right technology and applications to any particular task, and embraces the same philosophy and working models internally that they recommend to their forward thinking clients.
The business of software development and implementation isn’t simple, and it is founded in the delivery of professional consulting and development services. Where some professional service offerings may be standardized to the point of enabling “templated” production and performance, custom software configuration and development requires that each project be viewed individually in order to fully understand the requirements and deliverables.
Where the actual production requirements of the project may be unique, the processes for guiding the flow of work through the business are highly consistent and well understood.
Providing consulting and implementation support in addition to custom development has introduced Alembic Computer Services to a wide variety of businesses and working models. Because QuickBooks software is recognized as a fundamental tool for most small companies, delivering guidance and support to QuickBooks customers became a solid foundation for discovering where customization or other software implementations were required in order to fully address the business needs of their clients.
What became apparent to ACSI while working with these vastly different organizations was that there were similarities in the fundamental workflows and information management processes, and that these processes were not being adequately supported by any of the accounting or ERP systems. Even more than with software customization and development, ACSI recognizes the potential for helping a wide range of businesses with improvements that could be made by implementing standardized workflow and business process support systems.
The real basis for delivering work at Alembic Computer Services is the team that makes up the company.
Fully leveraging the capabilities of each developer and supporting staff member is essential to creating and retaining profitability, which places employee time, resource and project management as the absolute top priorities. Managing the scope of information necessary to support each consulting or development project is no small task, nor is managing the time and activities of a team of developers and other employees, and flowing all of that data through to scheduling, payroll and billing systems.
To meet these internal requirements as well as establishing a basis for expanding high value service offerings to clients, Alembic Computer Services selected Exact Synergy Enterprise, a business management solution from the Dutch software company Exact (www.exact.com).
“For over 35 years, the tag line at Alembic has been ‘Productivity by Design’. It is our mission to improve the businesses of our clients by providing quality software solutions and the highest level of customer service. Exact Synergy Enterprise provides us with a unique tool that enables us to help almost any business achieve a greater level of productivity. With our many years of experience with Synergy, we are very excited to be the ones to introduce this special product to the QuickBooks community.”
Alembic Computer Services stands out among the numbers of consultants and resellers working with Synergy, largely due to the focus on bringing the value and power of Synergy Enterprise into the QuickBooks user space.
While there are other partners selling ERP products that integrate with Synergy, Alembic Computer Services works primarily with QuickBooks Enterprise customers who need flexible workflow and business process management support that can’t be handled with QB alone or by other solutions in the QB marketplace.
“The Exact partner community has a rich history of enabling integration with other small and mid-size financial applications, giving companies the ability to modernize the business processes surrounding financial data that is so important to them. We strongly support what firms like Alembic Computer Services are doing to marry Synergy Enterprise with QuickBooks” says Philip Bini, Director for Exact Americas.
“Exact is excited to see advisors like Alembic Computer Services apply their passion for Synergy Enterprise by creating a business management blueprint for businesses that use QuickBooks for their accounting needs. Exact Synergy Enterprise allows business users to interact on their business transactions in a collaborative environment. As a result, the integration between Synergy and QuickBooks makes the complete solution more relevant and widely accessible to QuickBooks ProAdvisors, reseller communities and the QuickBooks customer base at large. It really is an exciting time for the entire QuickBooks market to be introduced to Exact Synergy Enterprise.”
Within Synergy Enterprise, the people, actions and activities, and business resources are all tracked in order to inform other applications and processes which support the business and operation.
By centering the Synergy workflow solution in the business applications infrastructure and utilizing its flexible and extensible framework to embrace the full realm of business activities, Alembic Computer Services is able to automate and fully streamline processes that were previously very time-consuming and which did nothing to directly support or improve business profitability.
In order to create the most efficient and high performance approach possible, Alembic Computer Services knew they wanted a solution which natively addressed standard business needs like electronic document management, customer relationship and personnel management, but which could also be custom configured to handle their development and project-related workflows at a very detailed level.
While Jeff and Donovan are developers by profession, there was little interest in embarking on a large customization project to support their own business needs, so any solution would have to provide not only strong essential functionality right out of the box, but should allow for a great deal of customization of the solution without coding. Synergy delivered on those capabilities richly.
Using a standards-based approach to framing the activities and guided by logic infused into the Synergy system, Alembic Computer Services created their own professional project management and time and billing system within Synergy that directly and efficiently addresses the specific tasks, activities, resources and services involved in any given customer project. Storing not just customer and baseline project information, the system tracks every document, activity, research item and production element which associates to the performance of the tasks or which is provided through guided workflow.
Further, by integrating the project, time and resource data with their QuickBooks financials, the company was able to create an end-to-end solution which addresses the wide array of activities involved in running the business, increasing efficiency and effectiveness in back-office operations as well as those in front. This benefit was among those most apparent to Alembic Computer Services, and was the fuel behind the development of the integration between QuickBooks and Synergy.
Unaccounted for time or resources, incomplete task performance, and undocumented project activities leads to inconsistent performance and lower profits.
Integrated workflows and the elimination of double-entry ensures greater accuracy in payroll, billing and other related processes, allowing ACSI personnel and business managers to more efficiently perform their required tasks, reducing friction and smoothing performance to a consistent and predictable flow.
For the project managers at Alembic Computer Services and the QB Resource Center, the big benefit of Synergy is that the developers know what projects are assigned to them at all times and can view exactly what tasks must be performed and when. For owners Jeff and Donovan Sachs, the confidence comes from knowing that every business process structured and defined, that the processes will be handled in a complete and timely manner, that all documentation and data is sufficiently collected and filed, and that their systems have the agility and power to carry the business well into the future.
Read the Introduction: Fringe to Foundation: Aligning Business Goals and Lifting Business Performance through Digital Workflows