Acacia, a facility management firm, required an integrated ERP solution to manage its multiple client accounts. The company sought a world-class solution that would help convince clients of its ability to properly supervise and consult on the management and budget monitoring of facility service vendors. Acacia also needed to closely track funds that each client spent on vendors and compare the costs to budgeted allocations. To take on the challenge, Acacia turned to Sysco Software, which deployed Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Sysco provided a hosted version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, enabling Acacia to avoid the capital and ongoing costs of hardware and software to properly run, maintain, and protect the system. Acacia employees now remotely access the application, which helps them properly manage facility services and automatically generate profit-and-loss reports for clients.
||With hosting, we save substantial costs for software, hardware, and IT infrastructure and take full advantage of the flexibility, scalability, and control we gain with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
||Clive Brazier, Business Systems Director, Acacia
Ireland-based Acacia provides facility management services so that its clients can focus their resources on their core business activities. The company manages and consults on a variety of facility components, including technical services, energy management, cleaning, catering, security, and utility services. Providing a one-stop shop for clients, Acacia manages specialist suppliers, which may include as many as 30 per client, and develops and manages the facilities services budget for each client to cover all the services Acacia provides. Acacia also consults on how to manage facility service suppliers for those clients who wish to manage the suppliers on their own. For these clients, Acacia helps review costs against industry norms, supplier management procedures, and the legislative requirements pertaining to the services provided.
Each year, Acacia manages millions of euros across all of its client accounts as funds are transferred from clients to facility service suppliers. Acacia carefully tracks exactly how every euro is spent so that clients can clearly see where their money goes. Acacia also works with clients on a regular basis to conduct audits of invoices and payments applied to client funds.
As the company grew during its early years and began taking on more clients, Acacia deployed a variety of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems as well as an internally developed solution to manage the client accounts. But as Acacia began managing more accounts and exchanging larger sums of money among clients and facility management vendors, the company realized it needed a higher level of integration among its systems.
“We manage large sums of money in our customer accounts,” explains Clive Brazier, Business Systems Director at Acacia. “We needed a system that would enable us to meet clients’ close scrutiny as they audit how we spend their funding.”Solution
Acacia decided the best approach was to deploy one ERP system that would meet current needs and offer scalability for growth. Acacia also felt it was important to select a solution from a widely known, respected brand. Such a solution would play a key role in the branding of Acacia’s services and help assure clients that Acacia properly tracks and reports on facility management expenses. Acacia narrowed the choice down to three solutions: Microsoft Dynamics NAV and products from SAP and Sage. Through a demonstration by Dublin, Ireland–based Sysco Software, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, the solution that clearly presented itself as the best one for Acacia was Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
“We could easily see that the expertise of Sysco and the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics NAV gave us more for our money,” Brazier emphasizes. "In addition to financial management, Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers additional capabilities that we plan on using, such as human resources management and sales and marketing.
To optimize the solution, Sysco took time to understand Acacia’s business model and then customized the database to suit Acacia’s business model and deployed the solution in seven business days. Sysco also customized Microsoft Dynamics NAV so that Acacia can generate separate profit-and-loss reports and other financial reports, as many as 20 per month, for all of its clients.
“The specialists from Sysco offered a very high quality of professional interaction during the entire deployment process, and their level of expertise and responses to inquiries were impressive,” Brazier explains. “The specialists know Microsoft Dynamics NAV extremely well, and after interpreting our business requirements, they configured the system to match our exact needs. For example, they took the time to understand how important client-specific reporting is to us and gave us a way to track spending on each client’s behalf.”
In addition to Microsoft Dynamics NAV meeting Acacia’s business needs, the company also saw the benefits in the way Sysco delivers Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Sysco offers both on-premises and hosted solutions and is the first Irish technology provider to offer a hosted ERP solution. To avoid capital costs for hardware and software, Acacia chose to go with a hosted deployment. Sysco provides the hosting through a secure, SAS 70–certified data center. When Acacia employees access Microsoft Dynamics NAV, a terminal server connects them to the solution.Benefits
With a hosted deployment of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Acacia receives the benefits of working with a richly featured business management solution that can meet present and future requirements, with strictly controlled costs. Says Brazier, “With hosting, we save substantial costs for software, hardware, and IT infrastructure and take full advantage of the flexibility, scalability, and control we gain with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.”Eliminates Upfront Capital Expenditures
Instead of a large, upfront capital expenditure for hardware and software, Acacia receives the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics NAV by paying a monthly, per-user fee. Acacia also has the flexibility to add or subtract users from the monthly contract as business needs change. “The hosted model is a major plus for us because of our distributed workforce,” says Brazier. “Some of our employees work from the corporate office, but we also have staff working from remote offices, their home offices, and client sites. The hosted solution approach by Sysco lets everyone access Microsoft Dynamics NAV no matter where they work.”Provides Cost Savings and Data Protection
Accessing a hosted solution was not a priority for Acacia when first looking for a new ERP solution. However, after Sysco suggested this approach, Acacia conducted research that demonstrated the cost savings, data security, and data redundancy that hosted solutions offer. “We don't need to worry about backing up our data or hackers accessing our systems,” says Brazier. “Sysco takes care of all of this for us at a predictable, manageable cost. We just log on to the system and use Microsoft Dynamics NAV as though it were running on a server right here in our office. We also don't have to worry about ongoing hardware or software support.”Expands Capabilities as Company Needs Change
Acacia currently relies on Microsoft Dynamics NAV to track all supplier accounts, including spending by supplier and ensuring that every supplier has proper insurance, approval levels, and compliance levels. But another key factor in Acacia’s preference for Microsoft Dynamics NAV is how easily the solution’s capabilities can expand as the company grows. This includes the ability to add modules that manage a range of ERP functions, such as manufacturing, supply chain, inventory, warehousing, and distribution.Delivers Data Quickly to Customers
Microsoft Dynamics NAV makes it much easier for Acacia to generate variance reports that show how facility management funds are spent compared to budgeted amounts. "Previously, we had to import data from our ERP applications into Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets and then manipulate the data before presenting it to our clients,” states Brazier. “But now, we can generate reports automatically from Microsoft Dynamics NAV. As we grow, this will save us considerable time and let us respond to client report requests much faster.”
In assessing the long-term outlook of the hosted solution, Brazier says, “We know we won't have to upgrade or replace the solution for several years; plus, the solution can easily scale to support more users, customers, and suppliers. With the range of capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, we have a solution that meets our ERP needs well into the future.”