CASE STUDY: SAASU
- Customer: Natalie Group, an cosmetics manufacturer
- Cloud app: Saasu
- Consultant: Cordner Taylor Accountants
Cosmetics manufacturer Natalie Group ran its finances, warehouse and exports from an aging financial system. By moving to cloud accounting program Saasu, the Queensland company saved over $80,000 a year in software, staff and maintenance fees.
What were you looking to change?
The Natalie Group runs an established 10-employee operation exporting skin care, aromatherapy and healthfood products to department stores in the US and UK as well as selling locally.
When CEO Claire Mitchell bought the business four years ago she inherited an antiquated program called Arrow which managed accounts, orders and stock. Arrow ran on a server and was so complex it needed to be operated by an assistant accountant just to look up customer orders and check invoices.
“It was really awful. There was no visibility of margins and for basic transactions you needed someone who knew about billings,” Mitchell says.
The program had become a bottleneck. Arrow held information relevant to every role in the business but requests for information usually had to go through the accountant.
“It was really hard to make decisions without getting into the system,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell, who travels regularly to the US and UK for work, required an IT expert to set up remote access to Arrow and then could only see certain parts of the program.
Any changes to the system required hiring an expert at $150 an hour. “You paid a fortune by the hour because you didn’t have the knowledge in house to do (anything yourself),” Mitchell says.
The servers had to be replaced every couple of years which added another $5,000 to the cost of owning Arrow. But more concerning was the risk of running old software.
“When I bought the business Arrow was running on this really old server. If it had broken there would have been no way I could have accessed the financial system including supplies, purchases, bill of materials,” Mitchell says.
Why did you choose Saasu?
Mitchell’s accountant Cordner Taylor recommended she move from Arrow to cloud accounting program Saasu. At first Mitchell was sceptical that an online program was advanced enough to run her manufacturing and warehousing business.
“I thought, rubbish, no cloud based system could give me what I needed because the inventory is fairly complicated for what we do and how we make it,” Mitchell says. “So I didn’t pay much attention, then when I did I thought, this is going to be heaps easier.”
Saasu helped Mitchell migrate from Arrow and the process was easy, she says. Mitchell took the opportunity to review how the business was doing things and improve internal processes.
Saasu’s major benefit was that it was easy to use. Any staff member who needed to access business information could view it themselves.
“Saasu is really easy. Employees who need shipping information can get it themselves, they don’t need a team of accountants to do it for them,” Mitchell says.
Employees can enter a sales order, convert an order to an invoice or look up purchases.
“With those big Arrow systems everything operates outside the system because you can’t let people into it. Firstly they wouldn’t know what to do and they would need to understand what happens behind the transaction,” Mitchell says.
“Saasu is really good in that a sales order is a sales order, you can’t break anything. The whole team can use it and you can lock down certain parts such as payroll for confidentiality.”
The Natalie Group has connected its bank accounts to Saasu so that transactions are automatically updated daily. “The bank feeds are awesome,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell has much greater visibility of Natalie Group’s finances while travelling. She can view the whole program on her iPad and see all the sales orders, back orders and what’s shipping. Importantly, she can also authorise purchase orders while on the road.
“The business can’t stop just because I’m travelling,” Mitchell says. “I was in New Zealand with a distributor and they asked how many of (their stock) did you order? You can jump on Saasu and get answers.
“It gives peace of mind and everything can keep running.”
Mitchell says there are still areas of improvement. While there is good sales reporting, Saasu lacks gross margin reporting. The inventory is also missing features required by larger businesses such as hers, Mitchell says.
How has business improved?
Mitchell estimates the move to Saasu has saved her company over $80,000 a year. The largest component is no longer paying for a junior accountant on a $60,000 salary.
“I can put that money into sales and marketing. The same person who can look after bank feeds can help me with branding and marketing and social media,” Mitchell says.
Arrow’s software maintenance bill was another $10,000 a year. Plus the Natalie Group no longer needs to buy servers – it has moved to cloud storage program Dropbox and other online software instead.
And Mitchell can make changes to Saasu herself instead of spending $150 an hour, on average for five hours a month, on an Arrow technician.
In fact, the cosmetics manufacturer has moved from PCs to Macs and no longer uses any IT service provider. The Macs are easy enough for Natalie Group staff to fix themselves and the online software doesn’t require any backup.
Moving to cloud software has helped the Natalie Group automate parts of the business. The company’s e-commerce software, Big Commerce, connects to Saasu using the OneSaas data transfer service.
Orders placed on the Natalie Group’s website are automatically entered into Saasu; previously they had to be entered manually.
The warehouse is operating more efficiently too. Instead of printing out orders from Arrow and hand delivering it to pickers, warehouse staff can read the orders directly from their screens in the warehouse.
Under the old system changes to the order were often missed or specials omitted from the delivery, Mitchell says.
Despite some shortcomings in inventory, cloud software has made the business much more dynamic and responsive. “I know I can jump on it at any moment and there’s not a heap of paper sitting on someone’s desk waiting to upload. Everyone works in real time,” Mitchell says.
Image credit: Natalie Group