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Expanding Beyond The “Home Office”

A husband and wife owned marketing firm in Southern Massachusetts, where the two of them have grown the business over a more than five year time period, had outgrown their home office space.  As their client base grew, so too did the demands on their time and their home office space.  Accounting records were stored in filing cabinets and banker’s boxes,  taking over their home office space.

 

The husband and wife attempted to expand their business by signing a lease for office space and hiring an office manager and sales staff.  They were concerned about how they would effectively manage this growing new business with these added expenses.  How would they communicate and collaborate with their growing workforce?  How would they keep track of activities and resources?  How much time would have to be spent on accounting activities and payroll?

 

The husband and wife team decided to partner with a consulting firm that specialized in accounting technology services – CPA Tech Partners.  This firm’s experience with small businesses like theirs made them uniquely qualified to steer them toward the right solutions:

 

QuickBooks

Quickbooks is accounting software designed for small businesses and is used by more than one million businesses today.  It includes modules for providing estimates, job costing, invoicing and collecting payments and tracking sales and business expenses. CPA Tech Partners was able to implement and train the marketing company’s new office manager on how to use Quickbooks, as well as to train the husband and wife team on how to interpret the reports that came out of Quickbooks.  Now that they had such a powerful accounting system, they were able to interpret their financial data and make more informed decisions.  One thing that they noticed very quickly was that certain services they offered were not making them any money. In fact they were losing more than $450 every time they offered the service!

 

Outsourced Payroll

The company outsourced their payroll processing to CPA Tech Partners. They were able to streamline the confusing payroll process, automatically direct deposit the funds for their employees, pay their payroll taxes  and provide an automated feed into QuickBooks.

 

Office 365

Office 365 is a tool developed by Microsoft that allows businesses to take full advantage of their suite of office applications in the cloud, eliminating the need to invest upfront in expensive Microsoft Office licenses.  For a small per user monthly fee, users are provided with full Microsoft Office functionality (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook). Office365 allows companies to scale up or down, depending on their employee count. There is no long term contract/commitment. As part of the Office365 subscription, services other than Microsoft products, including secure email, secure data sharing/collaborations through SharePoint and secure online conferences, are provided for no additional cost.

 

Using these tools allowed the firm to work effectively and to be more organized in managing client deliverables. Since CPA Tech Partners is a Microsoft Partner they were able to configure and train the staff on Office 365.The marketing firm was able to be self-reliant with these powerful tools without the need to hire a dedicated IT staff.

 

Using Office365 and QuickBooks, they were able to build a true scalable business network that will allow them to take advantage of cutting edge technology.  They did it with scalable solutions that will not require them to commit to large investments in time or money.

 

 

 

 

Inventory Management

A Boston area auto parts retailer provides automotive parts directly to consumers and auto repairers at its two locations.  Because of technology advances, much has changed in its 20 years in business.  Customers have come expect to be able to search inventory online before making the trip to the store; therefore, it is imperative that the inventory is up to date and accurate. This retailer, however, has never been able to be proficient in inventory management.

 

Reordering their inventory involved an inefficient manual process of navigating multiple e-commerce websites, phone calls and faxes to vendors. When the inventory arrived, it had to be inputted manually into QuickBooks.  This three-step process consumed hours of time and provided ample opportunity for human error.  It often resulted in QuickBooks showing inaccurate inventory counts, shortages of products that were in demand and surpluses of products that were not big sellers.

 

Office 365 – SharePoint Online

The company implemented SharePoint Via Office 365.   SharePoint provides a centralized tool for the exchange of information between businesses, their suppliers and their customers. CPA Tech Partners was able to integrate QuickBooks inventory module with SharePoint to allow for real time updates of the current inventory. They worked with the retailer’s vendors to develop a data feed that allowed for automatic ordering when inventories fell below certain thresholds. By linking Office 365-SharePoint Online with QuickBooks, CPA Tech Partners have been able to streamline the daunting task of managing 1000’s of inventory items.

 

The retailer is now able to replenish its shelves quicker with items that have been demanded directly from buyers.  They have also reduced the amount of time spent on inventory management and can now apply that time toward business development activities.

Managing “The Books”

An electrician serving southeastern Massachusetts prides himself on delivering quality work to his customers. He has always kept a busy schedule with both new and loyal customers, yet despite his decent earnings, he became increasingly concerned that he was not making the money he should be based on his hours worked.

 

The electrician’s business and personal finances had always funneled in and out of the same checking account; he has never had a separate business account. Customer records and bills had all been jumbled together in a shoe box in his basement, so he received no alerts when invoices needed to be sent out to customers or when his own bills were coming due.  He realized that even though he had many years of work ahead of him, he would never be able to retire if he kept nickel-and-diming himself through sloppy bookkeeping.

 

This electrician engaged with CPA Tech Partners for help.  They gained an understanding of his business practices and tailored their outsourced accounting service to fit his needs.  The electrician is not tech-savvy, and he would rather spend his days at work sites – not in front of his computer.  CPA Tech Partners’ solution allowed him to focus on his customers and eliminate paying bills and collecting payments. Through the use of scanning technology, CPA Tech Partners has reduced the amount of time the electrician had to spend on accounting related activities to just a few minutes a week. The electrician also receives alerts when his own bills are due because he synched those vendors/service providers to the same system and can authorize payment through his smart phone.  Through a web browser or smart phone, he can see where he stands financially real time.

 

In addition to sparing him the late fees and missed invoices, CPA Tech Partners has helped the electrician gain a reliable picture of his business’s profitability.  CPA Tech Partners’ CPAs gives him sound financial and tax advice. Their consultants can review reports with him to help him forecast his earnings and better determine what kind of future business expenses to take on.  This reporting will also cut down on time and accounting fees come tax season.

 

This electrician has always paid meticulous attention to detail when working on an electrical job.  Now that the right professionals with the right tools are paying just as much attention to his finances, he is comfortable knowing that he will finally get the quality results he has earned.

Tracking Customers and Leads

A Rhode Island based used car dealership with sales staff of twelve has prospective customers walk in the door to make inquiries the old-fashioned way, but many of the dealership’s buyers come from websites such as Cars.com and Autotrader.com.  Each vehicle sales website provides its own “dashboard” interface showing prospective leads. With so many websites to monitor, it becomes confusing to track the origins of these leads and to manage the sales departments follow thru with customers.  They knew customer relationship management software existed and could assist them with improving their system, but unfortunately this was out of their budget.

 

CPA Tech Partners implemented a sales system that provided all of the needed functionality of the off the shelf solution at a more affordable price. The solution platform was Microsoft Office365’s SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution.  This platform allowed the business to take full advantage of a true collaboration system, automatically integrating all their Lead data no matter where the source (Web, phone, etc.). This solution also allowed them to integrate data from their accounting system into the solution. This was all delivered by Microsoft’s secure servers, and all for a small monthly fee.

 

With cloud-based applications available, the car dealership no longer needed their expensive servers to run their software.  This spared them the expense of purchasing the hardware and software, as well as the on-going maintenance costs.  CPA Tech Partners helped customize this solution to fit their unique processes and to replace their process of using paper and emails.  Leads now no longer get lost in the “black holes”. They are easily shared collaboratively within the dealership.

 

The dealership can now track where the sales team’s leads are coming from and which are proving the best ROI. They track sales activity easily and help the team members drive more foot traffic.  Revenue forecasting can be done at any time with just a click.

 

 

Sharing Information with Customers

A Providence-based regional independent publishing company engaged CPA Tech Partners to redo their customer order process.  Prior to CPA Tech Partners’ new customer order process, they would receive orders for new publishing jobs via email, with the job specifications either written into the body of the emails or as attached documents.  Employees would review the jobs, make the necessary changes and send them to the production team to create the materials on their printing press.

 

The publishing company’s creative director, who worked closely with customers to make sure their needs were met, reviewed the print jobs. Under their old system multiple drafts for printing were sent back and forth via email, and too often the creative director or the client mistakenly worked off of the wrong version of the document.  Moreover although the creative director was a skilled editor, he still occasionally missed some mistakes in the content, only to catch them after the job had already been run through the press.  This process consumed a tremendous amount of time and resources for both publishing company and its customers.

 

Office 365

Office 365 is a tool developed by Microsoft that allows businesses to take full advantage of their suite of office applications in the cloud, eliminating the need to invest upfront in expensive Microsoft Office licenses.  For a small per user monthly fee, users are provided with full Microsoft Office functionality (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook). Office 365 allows companies to scale up or down, depending on their employee count. There is no long term contract/commitment. As part of the Office 365 subscription, services other than Microsoft products, including secure email, secure data sharing/collaborations through SharePoint and secure online conferences, are provided for no additional cost.

 

Sharepoint

SharePoint is designed to make collaboration, resource management and overall project management more efficient and streamlined. It comes standard as a cloud -based application with every Office 365 subscription.  Since the application can be shared with coworkers and clients alike, the publishing company no longer had to rely on orders coming in through email. CPA Tech Partners was able to configure SharePoint to meet their business needs by customizing templates used by the customer to allow for quick data entry of the specifics for each print job and use a workflow to track approvals prior to printing. They could keep up to date on the latest version of an upcoming order, edit and track all the changes, develop a production schedule, and demonstrate their results in ways they had never done before.

 

SharePoint helped eliminate production errors and save time for both them and their customers.  By working more collaboratively, they have developed stronger relationships with their customers. It has given them a competitive edge to other publishing companies by providing their clients with a value add collaboration portal.

Supplier Management

An OEM Auto Parts manufacturer in Southern Massachusetts makes car parts for customers all over the globe.  They take orders from distributors, automotive repair shops and retail stores.  Some of the orders are done over the phone, but the majority of orders come in through their b-to-b internet website.

 

When they shifted away from paper based ordering delivered via postal mail and embraced the use of ordering via the internet in the 90’s, the leadership team was pleased with the improvement in business efficiencies.  They believed they had a system in place that would serve them indefinitely.  But there was still room for improvement. Internet orders were blind, meaning the customer was informing the manufacturer of their needs without knowing the availability in the warehouse.    Emails back-and-forth followed by conference calls with the customer became the pre-sales standard.  Too often- by the time the details were ironed out, the customer needs had changed or they had already moved on with competitors who could fulfill the order quicker.

 

Just as they had come to realize in the 90’s that they needed an electronic ordering system, they realized recently that to stay competitive, they would need to find ways to more effectively and efficiently share information internally and with their customers.  Instead of taking bids from a host of software firms pitching their own solutions, they engaged CPA Tech Partners to give them objective, expert guidance.

 

Office 365

CPA Tech Partners helped them move their Microsoft Office to the cloud.  Office 365 is a tool that allows businesses to take full advantage of the entire Office suite without having to invest in an on premise infrastructure.  Businesses can set up accounts for each employee to access Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Lync and other applications- all delivered via internet connection from Microsoft’s secure servers, and all for a small monthly licensing fee.

 

SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online comes standard with Office 365, and it enhanced their and inventory and sales systems dramatically.  It is a tool designed to make collaboration, resource management and overall process/project management more streamlined.    As custom orders are being placed, there is a single web-based portal for communication and sharing of documents.  By integrating their sales and inventory accounting system modules with SharePoint the sales and engineering staff can communicate live with customers in SharePoint workrooms using video conferencing.  This spares all the parties involved from the back-and-forth email chains, and the miscommunications that come with them.

 

SharePoint exchanges data with accounting, customer management and design systems.  This means that as the turnaround time on the design/build phase is shortened because of better communications, so too is the delivery phase.  And since the billing team is in the loop on these communications too, they know when products are shipped and are able to invoice faster.

 

Since rolling out this solution with the help of CPA Tech Partners, they have shortened its sales cycles and lengthened its list of repeat customers.