The skills requirements are tough in a business like Frandsen Installation in Terndrup, south of Aalborg in Denmark. Every day employees are faced with a particularly broad range of tasks, from agricultural installations, troubleshooting, replacements or new installations in industry, and installing street lighting to fitting humble plugs in private homes. And the business is a busy one. Growth is expected to be around 15-20 percent in the first year after implementation of the company’s new SAP solution.
When a customer calls, it’s usually boss Tom Nielsen who picks up the phone. He tends to be out on a job with skilled electricians and apprentices, but the calls are transferred. In a company with only eight employees, there’s only capacity for one part-time office post, meaning customer inquiries go straight to the boss.
Out on the job
We meet Tom Nielsen when he is working on an installation taking several days at the district heating plant in Rønne on Bornholm. “I’m everywhere, and I have to be able to be everywhere. That’s why I have to have an IT system that automates administration”, confirms Tom Nielsen.
The system tasked with making sure the finances are in order at Frandsen Installation is SAP Business One. And the modules to be used include credit control and customer management.
“Our customer base consists of a large number of small businesses, farmers, industrial businesses and some private customers. It’s not always easy to keep track of customer payments – especially when you’re as busy as we are, and the boss hardly has time to set foot in the office”, says Tom Nielsen.
Another factor is that Frandsen Installation is based in an area where people know one another. That means you have to choose your words with care when a customer has to be reminded that the latest bills haven’t been paid.
“We’re busy. We also know our customers and have a pretty good idea whether or not we need to take action when a bill’s not been paid. For me the most important thing is that the system keeps track of customers, and that we can set up some alarms to notify us if someone’s credit gets too big”, explains Tom Nielsen.
The main task of Frandsen Installation’s SAP solution is to manage the accounts. This means recording time and resources spent on customer jobs, keeping prices up to date, guaranteeing correct invoicing, managing quarterly accounts and VAT accounts at the press of a button and generating the annual accounts in the same way so that the books are in order before the accounts are sent to the auditor.
Remote control of the accounts
“What we’re aiming for is for me to take the phone, wherever I am, and immediately register orders using a PDA. We also have plans to install it in all our employees’ cars, giving them access to services down to order control and documenting completion of the jobs on site.”
“Ultimately we’ll just have to press a button and the annual accounts will appear. But we’ll also benefit from being able to adapt quickly to new rules and regulations from the authorities. For one thing, there are a lot of duties to pay. And they have to be entered when we get right to the end of the system”, says Tom Nielsen.
EDI invoicing on the way
Another area that’s on the way into the company is EDI invoicing, thanks to the functions included in SAP Business One. “We source about 90 percent of all our products from one single wholesaler, so it would be a major benefit to be able to receive EDI invoices from them. With all the switches, cables, and so on in the system, we can also see the benefits that helped to convince us that this is the right solution. Until we get that element in place, we’ll have to make do with a monthly invoice from the wholesaler. The problem with this type of invoice is that a lot of work is needed to keep track of what’s actually been ordered, whether you’ve actually received the goods that are to be paid for, and whether they’ve been used and invoiced to our customer. So we’re really looking forward to that being in place. We’ll basically become a totally different business once we’re able to keep a close eye on the status of building projects, contribution margin per job and all the other features available in SAP Business One”.