Bidwells operates a remote bookkeeping and accounting bureau for 300-plus clients and controls in excess of 400 bank accounts.
The company had been using an old DOS-based legacy system since the 80s which Larry Hammond, Bidwell Associate – Land & Business, says “had been cosmetically re-decorated with Microsoft lipstick”. Upgrading the legacy system to the latest version wasn’t an option, due to the fact that just converting the data exceeded the cost of purchasing Greentree.
Despite being in close contact with the field agents responsible for the day-to-day running of its clients’ businesses, the accounting team struggled to meet their needs for timely management information. Business data needed to be extracted from the Property Management System line-by-line and reports needed to be faxed or posted. Larry says, “Improvements to the reporting for clients and agents had stopped in 1998 when the latest version of the report writer had proved far too complex and time-consuming for the team to write reports, let alone improve them.” Payments to suppliers involved the raising of cheques in various shapes and sizes to meet the requirements of 20 different banks.
Most importantly, Larry is certain that due to the cost of delivering services, two significant clients had been lost in the 24 months prior to implementing Greentree. To maintain its long-standing reputation as a top-notch UK Property Consultancy, Bidwells needed to significantly speed up the dissemination of critical business management information.
‘Live’ data demo a deal-clincher
Larry explains how “Greentree’s UK Business Partner took the time to understand what we do. It was a case of ‘wow’ these guys are actually more interested in understanding our accounting services than talking-up the features of the software. The other vendors left us to figure out how the Bidwells’ business model fitted into their system – this wasn’t what we were looking for.
“In a second meeting and demonstration, the UK Business Partner took some live client data and showed the evaluation team how this could be improved in Greentree – that simply blew us away,” says Larry.
The implementation process, from the buy decision to go-live, was less than three months and went according to plan, which was “fantastic”. Larry says,“We initially projected a three-year payback period; however, as we uncover more of Greentree’s powerful capabilities, the reality has become half that time.”
Organisational data now accessible to all
Greentree’s easy-to-learn and familiar Windows environment ensured staff and agents felt more confident using it. This immediately put information within the reach of the entire organisation, not just those with proprietary knowledge about how the system worked. Younger staff members no longer need to consult senior staff to find out how to complete tasks or query data.
Staff numbers plummet as productivity increases
Client data is automatically imported overnight into Greentree from the Property Management System. This ensures that data is no longer double-handled, saving thousands of hours of staff time. Since Greentree was implemented, electronic payments to suppliers have increased by a whopping 97%. The task of managing over 250 client businesses and 400 bank accounts with about 20 different banks, plus ensuring suppliers get paid promptly, has been simplified and streamlined.
Larry says one of the most dramatic efficiency gains is in staff productivity. Staff numbers have reduced by 18% and Workflow efficiency per staff member has improved as a direct result of greater accessibility to organisational data.
Greentree “light years” ahead
During the evaluation phase, Larry looked at the sorts of activities New Zealand and Australian Greentree customers were involved in. “I could see that in the event our clients diversify to take advantage of new opportunities, Greentree has a module that would enable us to meet their needs. It’s amazing to think there’s a company like Greentree, on the other side of the world, thinking light years ahead of what businesses might need in the future.”
Improving business competitiveness
The electronic payment of supplier invoices, combined with the email distribution of business management reports to agents and clients, has enabled significant efficiency outcomes. Bidwells can now more accurately manage the cash position and reporting of the 250-plus businesses under its stewardship. Larry is absolutely confident that this has greatly improved Bidwells’ competitive position in the property consultancy market. Next on his wish list is web-enabled system access to agents, which will effectively make up-to-the-minute business information available at the farm gate.
Established over 175 years ago, Bidwells is one of the UK’s leading property consultancies. Bidwells employ almost 500 people in 13 offices across England and Scotland and provide a full range of services across the Commercial, Residential and Rural sectors.
- Initial ROI payback was envisaged within three years but was achieved in half that time
- Easy-to-learn & familiar Windows environment promotes strong user uptake
- Electronic payment to suppliers increased 97% – reducing staff time processing cheque payments & improving Bidwells’ ability to manage the cash position of client businesses
- Email distribution of reports to clients & agents improves the ability of Bidwells to provide critical up-to-the-minute management information
- Improved access to organisational data & process improvements translate into staff workflow efficiencies – the result is an 18% reduction in staff numbers