IT services company boosts performance with Flow

Written by Donovan Jackson, Flow Software
03 December, 2015

Application integration for smooth technology delivery…

When technology services company Connect NZ recognised the potential for efficiency gains by integrating a front end scheduling application with its enterprise resource planning solution, it looked to Flow software to get the job done. As a result of the integration, the company has eliminated manual data entry and reduced the process of entering work done against service level agreements from seven steps to just two. The efficiency gain means a reduction in cost and complexity, with a boost to staff morale thanks to removing repetitive manual work.

Connect NZ has helped New Zealand businesses with technology since 1979, working across industries to meet the evolving needs of Kiwi companies nationwide.

Situation
Mark Wallendorf, project manager at Connect NZ, says the company wanted to integrate its Greentree ERP system with the CRM system, Autotask.  He explains why: “Autotask is used for scheduling, service delivery and  project management, so it is the point at which we engage with our customers. At the back end, our Greentree system provides the financials, stock control, costings and other controls. We wanted to be able to open a job in Autotask and, at that point, for Greentree to know about it.”

At every step of a task or product delivery, says Wallendorf, engineers enter their time and materials into Autotask; this information also has to make its way into Greentree for the accurate management of the company’s resources, for billing and reporting. “The integration was quite complex, with Autotask used as our main reporting platform to customers [against SLAs], which required integration from Greentree to Autotask, while some information was required to move in the opposite direction – from Autotask to Greentree. There were 5 modules in all involved,” he explains.

Solution
Connect NZ looked to Flow Software to provide the necessary electronic data interchange to accelerate and automate information exchange between its business applications. The scope involved configuring a completely automated integration and synchronisation of accounts (customers), products, inventory, and invoices between the Greentree and Autotask systems.“

Flow indicated that the integration was indeed possible. It showed that by linking the two packages, the financial team could get the information they needed to be able to closely manage the business, without the legwork of manually entering data from one system into the other,” Wallendorf says.

The process of integrating systems isn’t an easy one, he notes. “We had three parties which had to cooperate on the solution – Autotask, Flow and Greentree – so we got some code written, implemented the solution in April while knowing it was far from perfect, then set about finding and ironing out the problems. Within three months we had what we wanted from the solution; we’ve spent the last year tweaking it.”

He calls out the Flow software developers for special mention. “This is a team which worked very well with our own developers to get the system sorted. Success depended on a good team effort and that’s what we got.”

Results

Wallendorf says that as a project manager, he doesn’t work with the ERP system, but routinely engages with the Autotask CRM. “The integration between these systems means I always have a clear understanding of where the business is without having to go into Greentree; previously, that wasn’t possible – and previously, it was really difficult to work like that.”

He says business systems should enable workflow, not stand in the way of it. “That’s what this integration has delivered. We are able to use our CRM system of choice with the ERP system of choice, while benefiting from the immediacy of the exchange of relevant data between the two systems.”

Convenience, while valuable, isn’t the only gain. “We’re saving costs, too. Where we once had seven administration people to open jobs and exchange information between systems, we’re down to just two – and they spend their time more productively. Where we had seven steps for one task, each of which presented the opportunity for mistakes to creep in, there is just one.”

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