"When I travel overseas to source materials, I can call up the eAccounts dashboard on my iPad any time, check sales numbers, see what sold, track inventory, monitor creditors and generally keep my thumb on the pulse of the business. And, if I make a major purchase, I can look at the numbers in any currency I nominate. It is an awesome product."
And it is not just Bardell who benefits from eAccounts' capabilities. "Our sales and logistics teams, the financial controller, my personal assistant and customer services all rely on eAccounts for up-to-the minute information," says Bardell. "And because eAccounts provides a 'single version of the truth' across all divisions, we are all reading from the same script. It makes life so much easier."
A major advantage of eAccounts is that it is easily accessible from, in addition to the iPad, a variety of mobile platforms, including Android.
"We've made eAccounts 'smartphone friendly'," says Neil Harker, managing director of eAccounts. "eAccounts automatically detects the screen resolution and adapts accordingly. So for a company like IBS, where their sales team regularly work from home, on the road or at a client site, mobile users can be fully productive away from the office without having to carry a bulky laptop."
The smooth interface and intuitive dashboard are the front-end windows into an intricate set of business rules and data sources. "Our pricing calculations are reasonably complex," continues Bardell. "We have to factor in location, the scope of the sale, the purchaser and even their credit history.
eAccounts automatically figures out the exact costings for the particular sale based on the information held in the system. This provides us with an immediate quotation that is accurate and up-to-date. eAccounts also looks at stock levels and any shipping considerations. It makes the whole process run smoothly."
Many of IBS's clients purchase materials for their individual retail building supply depots while the invoicing and payments are handled by a central office.
"We have set up eAccounts so that, every night, each relevant sale is collated into a single, comprehensive invoice and automatically sent to headquarters," says Bardell.
"The invoice includes the exact level of pricing for individual sales. Because it is automated and based on the actual transactions, it is completely accurate and, of course, automatic so we don't spend any time on the operation. To do this manually would take extra time and could potentially introduce error. With eAccounts, we don't have to do anything extra."
The speed that eAccounts performs certain tasks is a major plus for IBS. "The second a sales transaction is completed the system automatically generates and sends off an acknowledgement," notes Bardell. "This always impresses customers. In fact, eAccounts is much more advanced than similar packages used by many of our suppliers and customers. And because it is automated, we can quickly move on to other tasks knowing that the details are being taken care of."
IBS has been using eAccounts for around six years. "We had used an earlier, DOS-based POS (point of sale) solution, called Yield, that Neil Harker had developed," explains Bardell. "While useful, it didn't have all of the capabilities that we required. So we purchased, used and eventually outgrew a succession of competing solutions. Then we had a look at what Neil and his development team had created in the meantime - eAccounts - and quickly realised that it had made a quantum leap in functionality, usability and reliability. So we made the decision to use eAccounts as our financial, sales, CRM (customer relationship management) and logistics platform. That was six years ago and we have been very pleased with the relationship."
eAccounts is continuously evolving and improving. "The eAccounts developers are always adding useful functionality," says Bardell. "For instance, eAccounts released a 'newsletter' routine about 18 months ago that enables us to create and distribute professional-looking newsletters quickly and easily. We still prepare a few newsletters manually and send them out via the post, but eventually we will use the eAccounts e-newsletter function exclusively."
"We've just added a new iPhone/Android Phone Stocktaking program," notes Harker, "that includes support for a bar-code scanner. Remote users can upload data, captured by the smartphone, back to eAccounts in real-time. And the actual data streams are modest so transmission costs are kept to a minimum. This type of function is just one example of how we are embracing the mobile revolution at eAccounts."
The customer relationship management aspect of eAccounts is especially beneficial for IBS.
"Our customer service reps can see at a glance the entire sales and credit history of a particular client," says Bardell. "Everything is linked: general ledger, credit, debtors, stock levels and delivery details. If we need more specific information, we can 'drill-down' into the source data to get a more complete picture. Customers love the immediate order and shipment status that we can provide and we receive positive feedback about our service."
Another major benefit for IBS is that eAccounts is based on a hosted 'software as a service' model.
"We have moved into the cloud," says Bardell, "and have significantly reduced our investments in on-premise hardware and software as well as support costs. Instead of a complex network of servers and switches, we have just a few PCs and laptops that we use to access all of our on-line activities. We also take advantage of cloud-based services such as Google Docs and Apps. eAccounts is optimised to take advantage of the benefits that the cloud provides."
"When you add up all of the benefits that we have received from eAccounts," concludes Bardell, "it represents a very good return on investment. While eAccounts is only a piece of the puzzle in running a business such as ours, it is an important one. It has helped us grow and we anticipate using eAccounts as our financial and customer service solution in the years to come."