HARMONiQ Case Study – Brian E. Prestidge & Associates

How HARMONiQ helped Brian E. Prestidge & Associates to offer world-class business solutions for their SME clients.

By helping clients to manage the systems which support their businesses better and choosing the right software for the job, this established professional services firm has deepened its relationship with existing clients, and won new clients  boosting the value they are able to add and the revenue they earn.

A gap in the market

Trusted professional services firm, Brian E. Prestidge & Associates (BEP), has provided accounting, taxation, planning, and audit services to the Taranaki community for over 25 years. BEP’s customer base consists primarily of small businesses in import distribution and manufacturing. They look to BEP for accounting advisory, as well as compliance services.

Six years ago, the firm saw a gap in how their customers were leveraging technology. Identifying an opportunity to occupy a unique position in the market, they launched a service to install and maintain their customers’ business systems. “Due to our solid background in accountancy, we were able to offer a value proposition that general software firms could not provide,” said Jeff Prestidge, Systems Consultant at Brian E. Prestidge & Associates.

The popular initiative saw BEP customise and maintain lightweight business systems typically used for small businesses. “No longer did our clients have to worry about which software system to install or how to make them work,” said Jeff.

Under BEP’s implementation, these companies were using a number of accounting software programs to track their finances, including Infusion, XERO and Cash Manager. However, other parts of their businesses were still struggling. Realising this, Jeff saw an opportunity to provide even greater value for his clients, with a more comprehensive solution that addressed the whole business.

Here, Jeff recounts his journey…

“The systems were so disjointed that people were placing orders for important stock, without knowing what their cash flow requirements were likely to be.”

Only half the answer

  • Disparate systems

“Working with these businesses, we found that for varying reasons, many of them operated their business across multiple platforms. Their data and files were stored in one system, invoices were generated by another, while the stock was controlled separately. These disparate systems created hours of additional work for their staff, who had to reconcile between reports, import and export data, and consolidate information.

“Decision makers were also impeded by the lack of overall visibility across the business. For example, one customer found that they couldn’t actually manage their ordering properly, because no one in the business had a full overview of what their cash flow position was. The systems were so disjointed that people were placing orders for important stock, without knowing what their cash flow requirements were likely to be.”

  • Manual processes

“Another complication we found these companies had in common was that while some processes were automated, others were still managed manually. As importing and manufacturing organisations, many of our clients handle quite complex inventory. Despite this, stock control was often conducted manually, with data stored in Excel spreadsheets.

“Such manual systems intensified the visibility problem caused by the disparate systems, as almost no integration was possible. Besides being massively time consuming to maintain, these processes were also heavily dependent on the knowledge of a small number of users. This made the information inaccessible to the majority of the organisation, and as one of our clients experienced, a processing nightmare if a key staff member were to leave.”

  • Changing market conditions

“A trend was emerging at the same time where importers would sell directly to end-users and some of our clients took on this challenge. However, having only sold through distributors until recently, the need for retail selling exposed several gaps in their internal systems. Not having an automated system integrated to an e-commerce website put these businesses at a disadvantage, and the smaller scale orders by end-users made their manual stock management processes even more tedious.”

“Our clients needed their business processes tightly linked, automated as much as possible, and with all of their information in a single place that was easy to access and use, and highly insightful.”

A more complete solution was needed

“To us, the combination of these problems signalled a powerful need in the market. Our customers were facing new and greater challenges and needed to change their approach to technology in business management. Understanding one’s inventory position used to be okay, but our customers needed to understand margin at a very granular level so that they could make the best pricing decisions. They also needed to strengthen relationships with their current customers while reaching new ones – and they needed to do this without adding employees.

“They also needed to gain efficiencies through the smarter use of technology – so they could streamline and automate many of their processes, and understand their business end to end, from marketing and customer acquisition through to service delivery and warehouse automation. They needed their business processes tightly linked, automated as much as possible, and with all of their information in a single place that was easy to access and use, and highly insightful.

“With all this in mind, I began my search for the right business system and realised the business system market
is pretty straightforward – there are lightweight solutions that are easy to install and maintain, and large and complex systems that require a great deal of custom programming to implement properly. The lightweight systems are trying to extend their functionality with add-on partner products, but those have limited points of integration. The issue is that the lightweight packages can’t be customised to suit our customers’ business processes. Instead they have to adapt their business to the system. They also get quite expensive with all of the add-ons. The larger products do everything a mid-market customer needs and are well integrated, but are very difficult to install and require custom programming to change once installed. Our clients’ businesses change quite a bit. With many of the solutions we looked at we would have had to employ many programmers to provide our customers with the services they expect.

“Reflecting on all of this, I developed a list of criteria for the kind of solution our clients needed to best solve their problems. It needed to be:

  • Automated, to reduce the need for manual process;
  • Integrated, to provide one true view of the business from end to end;
  • Scalable, to support growth and change without the need for extensive upgrades;
  • Customisable for unique business environments; and
  • Affordable for a small business to run.”

Affordable, customisable world-class system

“After evaluating a number of solutions, we discovered HARMONiQ after being referred by a customer of HARMONiQ’s developers – Micronet Systems. We found that HARMONiQ incorporates financials, automation of order processing procedures with efficient and intelligent stock management, Business Intelligence Dashboards, and a complete CRM and Marketing module within a single system. It also had the smallest implementation footprint and the fastest customisation times in the industry, creating efficiencies for us as implementers, as well as for our clients.

“With HARMONiQ we can provide an enterprise-class business system to our customers at an affordable price. It fits within their budgets and at the same time it delivers a fully customised system that can scale as they grow. That’s two major benefits right there. Plus, HARMONiQ’s flexibility is great. It allows us to personalise the system to specific roles or users and configure almost any process to suit our customers’ needs quickly and easily.”

“With HARMONiQ we can provide an enterprise-class business system to our customers at an affordable price. It fits within their budgets and at the same time it delivers a fully customised system that can scale as they grow.”

Benefits to BEP and their clients

“Our clients are already benefiting from the integrated accounting, sales, and business management capability of HARMONiQ. The automated workflows and Business Intelligence reporting are saving them lots of time in extracting relevant data and drawing accurate insights about their business. The detailed inventory records allow for orders to be completed quickly, while the customisable interfaces and triggered alerts get the right information in front of the right people at the right time.

“However, our clients are hardly the only ones benefiting from our partnership with HARMONiQ. In this short period, HARMONiQ has attracted five new clients to our practice, some also switching to BEP for their accounting needs. One of our existing clients also upgraded their business management to HARMONiQ, happily increasing their spend with us for the new solution.

“The HARMONiQ team at Micronet has been excellent to work with, we enjoy working with them, and we’re maintaining a very strong relationship with them. We are about providing a world-class service to our clients and ensuring they remain competitive, not just locally but internationally. Thanks to HARMONiQ, they are more savvy about their own operations and they have a solution that will evolve easily with their needs. It has been a great find.”

“The HARMONiQ team at Micronet has been excellent to work with, we enjoy working with them, and we’re maintaining a very strong relationship with them.”