Heavy engineering firm Alimak Hek UK, part of the Alimak Hek Group headquartered in Sweden, needed a new business system that was fully integrated, enabling better financial, CRM, job costing and service management. It looked at a variety of leading international systems, but found some significant drawbacks.
“We discovered that the service side was going to be far too complicated for us,” says Alimak Hek UK’s Finance Manager, Michael Irving. “We wanted something that would not require a lot of extremely expensive enhancement or third-party add-ons.” So Alimak Hek started searching again, and this time it found Greentree.
“It was clear from the literature and demonstrations that the product was intuitive and easy to use,” Michael says. “We were also pleased to see that it was fully integrated, a complete package, and we decided it was going to make a real difference and plug a lot of gaps for us. We kept coming back to the fact that it would work out of the box, and was still flexible in terms of configuration.”
The only problem: nobody had heard of Greentree before. “Who are these guys?”
Purchasing a product that was relatively new in the UK raised real concerns with Alimak Hek’s senior management and board of directors. “They asked ‘who are these guys?’”, Michael recalls. “So we really checked them out – we did a lot of reference sites and calls.”
“We wanted to find out how robust the system was and how easy it was to install and use; also how users rated the support and upgrades available. It was clear that users liked the system, and again the intuitiveness of it came across. It also seemed to deal with more complex tasks well, such as foreign currency and service management, and people rated the ease of reporting.”
“The development of Greentree seemed to be good, and it seemed to be a system for the future as well as current needs. “What was interesting was: we’d seen several different systems and vendors, and there was a bit of bad-mouthing about other systems. Greentree, however, is one system that I didn’t hear a bad word about.”
Giving businesses a lift
Alimak Hek specialises in moving things up and down. Its product lines, Alimak and Hek, are leading names in construction hoists, industrial lifts, mast climbing work platforms, transport platforms, and material hoists.
It has divisions on all five continents, and its customers include construction companies, mines, offshore industry, ports and shipyards, cement plants, chemical plants and power stations. It also refurbishes and resells used lifting equipment, and has an extensive after-sale service and maintenance operation.
Alimak Hek’s UK branch usually has 5-10 major installations on the go nationwide, along with around 70 regular service contracts and in the region of 50 unscheduled service or maintenance visits per month, with engineers on call in the event of breakdowns. The company also maintains a central parts warehouse, and the tracking and invoicing of jobs has been arduous and time-consuming.
The company has been using Sage for finance, coupled with an ACCESS database for service requests and “an awful lot” of Excel spreadsheets.
“Sage has quite limited reporting, no CRM, and nothing integrates into it,” says Michael. “It’s all pretty ad hoc; there are a lot of paper files, Outlook folders and lots of server storage where various bits are held. It’s very difficult if you’re looking for a certain piece of project documentation.”
For invoicing, Michael was dependent on project managers or engineers in the field filling out voucher sheets, which were then signed off and mailed to his department. Sometimes it could take a fortnight after a project was finished for an invoice to be raised.
An overdue overhaul
Alimak Hek decided Greentree suited its needs so well, that it entered our GAME ON competition, where it had to state its case for winning a £150,000 implementation. Its case was good enough to make the finals, which earned it a 25% discount.
Michael is looking forward to having Financial and CRM systems that integrate with each other, and a Job Costing system that enables proper tracking, and doesn’t involve chasing pieces of paper. He personally expects to save a day and a half every month through not having to do month-end reports manually.
“I think Greentree is a long-overdue overhaul for our business,” he says. “It will let us consolidate various disparate manual systems and vastly improve the data we put in, eliminating a lot of dead time searching for info and building reports. It will improve communication across departments and increase visibility of what we are doing. It also supports the growth we have seen in the past few years, and allow us to cope with that into the future.”
For over 60 years, Alimak Hek has been committed to offering products, solutions, service and advice to every customer with a vertical access requirement. With more than 30,000 construction hoists, industrial elevators, mast climbing work and transport platforms in use, Alimak Hek provides peace of mind, covering everything from code compliance, safety of personnel to rapid access to spare parts and service.