Small business readies for the big time with ERP implementation
Demonstrating considerable vision, an Australian producer of organic fruit juices has implemented the SapphireOne enterprise financial accounting software and resource planning solution to run its operations. Immediate benefits include the ability to extend small business systems to representatives in the field, but the growing company has also positioned itself for unlimited future growth.
Founded over 12 years ago by Alicia Parker when she couldn’t find any fresh organic juice for her children and helped by dedicated Australian 100% organic farmers, who grow their fruit without using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, Parker’s Organic Juices has since delivered over 5 million products to market. The company has spread across the world as the only 100% Australian owned, 100% organic and 100% cold-pressed Juicery.
Like many growing companies, Parker’s started out using an small business accounting software package but reached a point where that software wasn’t able to handle business processes outside of the core financials. “While an accounting system package is typically easy to use, it couldn’t do key things which were necessary to support efficiency,” says Parker.
Specifically, she points to field sales staff, calling on customers, who would have to manually enter and process orders and payments. “We looked at some ‘add on’ solutions, but they required third party handsets and were quite unwieldy and just not that attractive an option.”
There were also difficulties in managing the juice production process itself, where Parker says it is necessary to get real time costings from each batch of juice. “We’d reached the limitations of how well we could control more of the business,” Parker notes.
Unusually for a relatively small business operation, Parker’s Organic Juices opted to identify and implement a full scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to address the requirements of its growing business. With a total of just nine users – four drivers and four office-based employees – the solution is capable of practical limitless expansion to suit the company’s existing and future needs.
SapphireOne, says Parker, emerged as the optimal choice because it provides a fully integrated solution and access to every module, regardless of the size of business. “That means we have what we need today and we have access to an enormous range of functionality in the future when we need it.”
Implementing an ERP solution is never a simple task, regardless of the size of the company into which it is introduced. “There is a lot of work involved in moving over from an old to a new system. The major concern is losing the business history, which in our case was around a decade at the time, because that historical data is essential for your ability to run reports and track performance,” Parker relates.
She adds that establishing processes and setting up the system, too, is time consuming and detailed. “There is a lot of work involved even it is small business, but SapphireOne was with us all the way, including ironing out teething problems and providing user training to make sure the system was working the way we required it to.”
The deployment was completed over a period of three months and completed in February 2012.
SapphireOne is a solution used by companies which include large-scale industrial organisations with up to a billion dollars and more of turnover. However, it has proven just as capable with a smaller scale implementation such as the one at Parker’s Organic Juices.
“The main reason for us moving to SapphireOne’s small business accounting software package was its ability to give our drivers handheld capabilities to invoice on the spot, with that data integrating with the back-end system immediately. Our drivers execute sales directly from the truck, so this enables them to immediately invoice, see client balances and do collections too,” says Parker. “It has integrated electronic signatures, so the customer signs for it right there for non-repudiation.”
Notably, she says SapphireOne enterprise business accounting software does all that through a standard iPhone. “That means no need to carry an extra device, a printer or anything like that. The invoices issued in the field come into the back end system in real time and is emailed to the customer on the spot, cutting out the paper- which is great.”
Streamlining the customer invoicing allows Parker’s too improve its customer service. It also makes its sales staff more efficient and cuts out low-value manual ‘rekeying’ work.
While that was the primary motivation for seeking out the solution, she adds that further benefits have quickly become clear. “We’re using the system to manage real time information on costs of production on the manufacturing side. Each day, the ingredients which go into batches are entered in the system so we can see what is being manufactured, at which point in the process it is, and what the exact cost is. Costing is important, because with organic ingredients, quality, inputs and raw material prices vary substantially.”
Real time visibility also means the company is able to see what it can produce from available inventory at any given time, without physically checking the warehouse.
Parker describes the introduction of SapphireOne enterprise business accounting software into their small business as a success, as it contributes to efficiency, reduced costs and the ability to maintain control of an organisation which is scaling up. “Any sort of efficiency gain is helpful; SapphireOne has delivered that across a number of aspects of the business,” she concludes.