Crown Oil Fuels Efficiency and Delivers First Class Customer Service with COA Solutions Finance System from Integer Micro Systems
Established for over 60 years and with 100 employees based at its Bury offices in the UK, Crown Oil is an independently owned family business supplying oil throughout the UK to both homes and businesses. It prides itself on being big enough to cope with oil orders of all sizes whilst still being small enough to care. With year-on-year growth forcing the company to improve business-wide efficiency, in 2003, Crown Oil decided to replace its restrictive finance system with a COA Solutions system from Integer Micro Systems. This flexible and functionally-rich system has proven key to supporting the company’s growth whilst improving efficiencies, financial visibility and customer service.
The need for change
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Crown Oil was using a basic financial software package. The system was rigid and not very user friendly and as the company grew, its limitations were becoming ever more apparent.
In 2003, Crown Oil decided that it was time to move to a more flexible and functionally-rich system to support its growing business. It considered a number of finance systems from a handful of software providers.
Adrian Greenhalgh, Group Accountant from Crown Oil, says, “We required a highly flexible finance system that was easy-to-use, could provide reports within seconds rather than hours and could be easily linked to our proof of delivery and ordering systems, creating an integrated back-office platform. It was also important for the system to be easily configurable so that it could be tweaked according to our specific requirements.”
Crown Oil looked at a range of finance systems including those provided by incumbent software provider, Integer Micro Systems (IMS). It quickly became clear that a combination of IMS’s experience of providing software solutions to the oil industry and COA Solutions’ financial management system (of which IMS was a re-seller) was the best suited proposition to meet Crown Oil’s needs.
Greenhalgh says, “IMS introduced us to a financial management system from COA Solutions. It was immediately obvious that this system possessed the level of flexibility, functionality and configurability we required. It could also be easily linked to our IMS proof of delivery and ordering systems. This finance system together with IMS’s excellent levels of customer service and in-depth understanding of our industry offered the perfect solution.”
Implementing COA Solutions
IMS, the UK market leader for shipping, forwarding and fuel oil distribution software solutions worked closely with COA Solutions to ensure the implementation of the finance system went smoothly. Crown Oil went live with the new system in November 2003.
Greenhalgh says, “The COA Solutions system went live on budget and on time and worked perfectly from day one. We couldn’t ask for anything more! The success of the go live was thanks to the combined expertise of the IMS and COA Solutions teams and their excellent working relationship.”
Up and running
The COA Solutions system at Crown Oil is now used by 22 members of staff across the company. It comprises core accounting functionality including a general ledger; accounts payable/creditors module for complete invoice management; accounts receivable/debtors module for debt collection, credit management and cash management needs; and full asset management from initial registration of an asset to disposal.
The solution also includes reporting and analysis tools to provide easy access to the information held within the finance system. Data collected and processed by the system can be presented to management in many different ways with hundreds of standard reports available covering areas such as control (including VAT), standard listings and performance indicators.
Greater financial visibility
With the COA Solutions system in place, Crown Oil now has an accurate and up-to-date view of financial information which wasn’t possible with the previous, basic finance system. As reports can be produced within seconds as and when required, management always has an accurate view of the company’s financial status.
The integration of the COA Solutions system with IMS’s ePOD proof of delivery system and Tankerbase Sapphire ERP front-end ordering system means that when a customer signs for a delivery using the electronic ePOD system, this is picked up by the Tankerbase system. A sales invoice is automated generated from Tankerbase and emailed to the customer and at the same time, the invoice total is automatically posted to the COA Solutions sales ledger. This integration ensures that real-time, accurate financial information is always available and that Crown Oil is fully aware of its credit status.
Crown Oil’s financial processes are now far more automated, cutting down on time-consuming administration, duplication of effort and manual errors. A key advantage of the COA Solutions system is that financial reports can be produced faster than ever before, considerably improving efficiency.
Greenhalgh says, “If a customer asks for a sales ledger report covering the last 2 years, for example, it takes just 20 seconds for the report to be automatically produced whereas before it would be a manually-intensive job that could take up to an hour.”
The staff time that has been freed-up thanks to the increased automation has been redeployed on more value-adding activities such as analysing reports, liaising with customers and chasing debt.
Providing an excellent return on investment
Moving to electronic, automated financial processes has cut stationery and postage costs and by improving efficiency, Crown Oil hasn’t had to hire additional staff in certain areas of the business as the company has grown.
“Every penny spent on the COA Solutions system has been money well spent”, says Greenhalgh.
“As the business has grown, we haven’t had to increase staffing levels in certain areas as we would have done if we’d stayed with our other system. This has saved us significant costs.”
Delivering first class customer service
The COA Solutions system has also had a considerable impact on Crown Oil’s customer service as Greenhalgh explains, “Oil from one provider is no different to oil from another provider and so we have differentiated ourselves from our competition by our excellent levels of customer service. COA Solutions’ finance system has further enhanced our service levels by enabling us to provide customers with comprehensive and tailored financial reports on a regular basis. We are also better equipped to respond to customer queries in a timely and professional manner.”
Flexibility for the future
Seven years on from implementing the COA Solutions finance system, Crown Oil not only recognises the benefits the system is bringing to the company, but is constantly looking at how it can bring further advantages to the business. The system’s flexibility means that it can be continually configured to suit Crown Oil’s specific business needs meaning that as the company evolves, so does its finance system.
Greenhalgh says, “We are in constant dialogue with IMS discussing how the COA Solutions system can be tweaked in response to new or changing business demands. We’re very fortunate to have a software provider that listens to our issues and works to find a suitable solution.”
Greenhalgh adds, “Having spoken to financial directors from other companies who tell me all about their finance system woes including how difficult and costly it is to get just one thing on their system altered, I recognise how fortunate I am. The COA Solutions system does exactly what we want it to do and thanks to our close relationship with IMS and IMS’s own excellent relationship with COA Solutions, we have a finance solution that can effectively support our business both now and into the future.”
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