From Microsoft Dynamics SL to Sage Intacct: How Marketing Communications and Training Firm Alteris Group Positioned Itself for Growth
With headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, it’s no surprise that Alteris Group, LLC predominantly serves the automotive industry. The professional services company, founded in 2002, supports the in-dealership program and external marketing needs of some of the biggest auto manufacturing brands in the world through well-crafted training materials and video and digital platform development across its two entities in the United States and Canada.
CONTOURING ITS COURSE
The project management nature of its business – labor and deliverables, essentially – requires the company to track the hours personnel work on specific deliverables, as well as monitor the status, estimated and actual costs and dedicated labor to projects as a whole. Its disjointed setup of Microsoft Dynamics SL, however, made it tricky to effectively do so. All billing was handled exclusively by its American entity, for example.
The act of pulling billing data to its Canadian location involved “a lot of manual processes back and forth,” recalled Hannah Rees, Senior Project Manager for Alteris Group. The company would export project costing reports into a custom Excel database in order to adapt invoicing to the particular specifications of its client base, which must include project details, and then generate full invoices out of Excel.
At one point, the legacy Microsoft Dynamics SL system was not compatible with iOS, a preferred platform for design-intensive organizations like Alteris Group. So Alteris Group created its own time sheet system. “We were doing time sheets in one system,” explained Rees. “And then having to copy those over to the other system. Eventually Microsoft caught up with its own iOS compatibility, but by then we were too far gone with our own development and it wasn’t worth the investment to create a module that would still involve manual processes.”
“It wasn’t worth the investment to create a module that would still involve manual processes.”
PUTTING ON THE BRAKES
After puttering along with these business systems for 20 years, Alteris Group consulted with Net at Work to undergo a Business Health Assessment. Net at Work, a top-ranked technology advisor, provides a variety of services, including managed, Fractional CIO and CTO services as well as software sourcing, evaluation and implementation services, to thousands of small-to-medium sized businesses across North America. As a result of Net at Work’s assessment, Alteris Group was able to compare the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a Next Generation Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution to its current deployment.
“We looked at each aspect of what we were doing manually, like the hours of time dedicated to billing and the hours needed to upload monthly time sheets into the system, and what we’re spending with Dynamics for upgrades, add-ons and support,” said Rees. This exercise, matched with an anticipation of the eventual loss of Microsoft support, gave Alteris Group the direction it needed to go.