Does The Earth Move For You?
Does The Earth Move For You?
blueStar’s Joanne Collinson says successfully integrating business systems is (almost) better than sex!
A business with disparate systems and data sources is rather like a troubled marriage: communication is poor and everyone involved seems to be leading separate lives. When the various systems that are meant to make the business function are operating as though other parts don’t exist, performance falters, and everyone suffers.
Time was, a business would start out with a basic accountancy system like MYOB or QuickBooks, which could work just fine if the business stayed in the same place. But successful businesses grow, and discover that they need more processes to handle a rising number of increasingly complex tasks. Adding another system that functions alone and can’t communicate with the rest, means too many people spend too much time acting as facilitators – keeping information flowing between supplementary rather than complementary systems.
“The answer lies in investing in an integrated system that performs multiple tasks seamlessly and will (as a result) enhance productivity and give good ROI,” says Joanne Collinson, Director of Greentree partner blueStar Business Solutions (www.bluestar.net.au).
“Many businesses that have grown quickly are often held back by their systems, and ultimately they are unable to capitalise on the momentum they have created” she says. “In a nutshell, this is a missed opportunity at best, but more often than not leads to loss of customers, revenue, reputation and staff.”
Just moving around a single piece of paper, for example, can tie up one person for hours, getting documents to those who need to see them, and containing the information that they specifically require. Or, it can tie up several people who could be more productively employed on other tasks. Some businesses even end up employing extra staff just to move that paper around, and administration costs are something that every business wants to reduce.
ONE POINT OF ENTRY
Integrated business software can combine accountancy functions with CRM and HR, thus providing the ability to generate reports combining all these elements. The result is better visibility of the entire business process.
Greentree’s Payroll module caters for many forms of remuneration, and can also split payments between cash, cheque or direct debit accounts. Templates can be applied to each individual, automatically calculating all contributions and deductions, and the built-in report designer means the payroll supervisor has instant oversight. Greentree Payroll is also fully integrated with Greentree Financial Management and the Job Costing module, giving the accountant comprehensive visibility. Approvals & Alerts maintains the integrity of data, by allowing the user to define alerts for any component within Greentree, controlling time costs and ensuring smooth authorisation.
Click here to read how one Greentree customer has benefited from these systems.
Reducing paper flow is not only good for the environment; it’s also a significant time-saver. “You can actually reduce your paper flow with an integrated system by 75%,” Joanne says. “We had one organisation that started using Greentree’s eReporting, which means you can electronically send out accounts payable remittance slips. They were actually spending four hours standing at a fax machine, manually faxing, so they saved four hours or half a day’s work for one person.”
CAN’T AFFORD IT!”
The most common obstacle to adopting integrated solutions is the cost factor. Joanne says businesses need to understand the benefits that will accrue, to get a better perspective on the initial outlay.
“Most people will actually put off purchasing something until they’re forced into it, which is probably the wrong time to do it,” Joanne says. “So I always try and say to people ‘look at your underlying technology and invest early, so you’ll actually be equipped to manage both change and growth’.”
The fear factor can weigh in heavily too, when making such a significant decision. People get comfortable doing something the same way, believing they can work happily in a vacuum, and some resist change merely on principle. What they fail to realise is that business is a team game; lack of communication means lack of focus, and tasks can be left undone, or else are done poorly.
“Putting in an integrated system actually enforces better business practices,” says Joanne. “As soon as you integrate, you have to consider the rest of the people within your organisation. So when you implement, you try to bring down the walls of the fear of actually making the change.”
The other fear is that having computers take over those time-consuming tasks could reduce someone’s role, or even eliminate their job. Joanne says in fact it often improves their work. They become more productive, and management makes better use of existing staff.
“We’ve got customers who’ve gone from spending a day and a half running financial reports to two or three hours because the data is already there. One has increased its growth and profit by 60% with no extra staff, because all they’ve had to do is add new functions to their integrated system.
“That’s the whole goal with integration: to reduce the need to add administration, which is a huge cost component. That’s where the solution is not a cost to the company; it’s an investment.”
FROM THE TOP
For the CEO, the decision to make such an investment should be driven by a clear-headed assessment of need. The principle of ‘what you can’t see, you can’t manage’ should apply here.
“If you haven’t got visibility of costs within your organisation, if you’re not getting the right reporting from any solution, then you’ve got to do something,” Joanne says. “When you get a big contract you’ve got to be able to monitor everything that’s going against that project. If it’s wholesale distribution, your actual stock needs to be valued. And if you can’t see that, you’ve got a problem.”
As Joanne has already emphasised, the benefits of greater efficiency, saved time and better communication will always outweigh the cost. What’s more, those benefits can become tangible in a short space of time. “Customers want ROI and with Greentree they get it,” she says.
“Businesses that have moved to Greentree have noticed a return on their investment quite quickly; many of them in less than 12 months.”
Imagine that? It really is (almost) better than sex!
ABOUT JOANNE COLLINSON
Despite being a flightless Kiwi bird, Joanne managed to migrate many years ago to sunnier climes across the Tasman. Having been a Senior Applications Consultant and Business Consultant in numerous habitats including NSW and QLD, Joanne went on to successfully hatch blueStar Business Solutions in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Joanne is a magpie when it comes to shopping, and manages to spread her wings on the weekend by sharing a bottle of red with good friends and family (and clients). Joanne was the recipient of the Greentree Salesperson of the Year 2011 Award.