Foodstuffs importer Interaust gets a bumper crop of benefits.
CHALLENGE: Interaust was plagued by its outdated Arrow system, too many manual processes and confusion about vital figures.
SOLUTION: Greentree holds all the important data in one place, giving everyone a live view of transactions and ensuring a single set of true information.
RESULTS: Order handling errors are now negligible, and eliminating document handling duplication saves time and money.
When you’re importing on average 10-15,000 tonnes of raw materials per year, and on-selling them to a customer base of several hundred manufacturers, mistakes can cost a packet.
“Our business systems were antiquated, with staff compiling screeds of figures on Excel spreadsheets,” explains Tony Fraser, Financial Controller of Interaust Foods Pty Ltd. “We were never quite sure whether or not we had the stock to fill the orders.
“It was also extremely difficult and time-consuming trying to work out whether we were pricing correctly, and we were issuing a large number of credit notes to customers because we were getting it wrong. I can’t be sure how much we were losing due to errors that weren’t picked up, but it would have been significant.”
Too much manual processing, conflicting price documents, high error levels... sounds like a job for Greentree.
30 shades of lemon
Interaust is one of Australia’s largest importers of raw foodstuffs. Major makers of packaged foods and beverages rely on them to source and supply a vast range of fruit and vegetable products from dozens of growers and exporters around the world.
It’s a highly seasonal market with numerous influencing factors including weather and crop yields, which mean that availability and price are in a constant state of flux. There are also loads of subtle variances in products.
“We might have 20-30 different types of lemon product, for example, and they’re all just slightly different with their ratios and specifications,” Tony says. “We have a huge inventory because we need to cover the range of products that our customers require.”
Interaust’s Arrow system couldn’t do much beyond basic accounting. It couldn’t accommodate purchasing, which had to be done on Excel spreadsheets or Word documents.
“There was a lot of double and triple handling of information, and once you start to transpose information, mistakes will happen,” says Tony. “I was looking at one set of numbers from the external warehouses’ stock report, another set sitting in Arrow, and then a third set that had been entered into Excel by somebody else.
Invariably we were running around like headless chooks trying to work out which was the correct figure and then why the others were different.”
One-stop information shop
The search began for a new system that could store all the stock and pricing information in one place. A consultant shortlisted Exact, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, JIWA and Greentree, with Greentree getting the nod for its integration and flexibility.
Interaust’s Greentree system has since made life much easier for everyone.
“The ability to simply attach documents in Greentree has made a huge difference,” Tony enthuses. “It’s now our one-stop shop for whatever we want to know.”
The guesswork has been taken out of both product and sale contracts, because at a glance Interaust’s staff can see which customers have received how much of a particular product line, and how much is remaining in stock. The multitude of spreadsheets for different products and customers is a thing of the past, and Tony estimates that pricing errors have dropped by more than 90%.
The live visibility delivered by Greentree’s Workflow desktops ensures a trouble-free trail from sale to release, dispatch and invoicing. Greentree also enables accurate monitoring of incoming shipments, and has removed the hassle of exchange rate fluctuations.
Analysis in minutes
“The amount of time that Greentree has saved everybody has been enormous,” Tony says. “I’m especially pleased with Greentree IQ*. I used to have to spend a day and a half every quarter manually keying in sales figures for reports to our directors. Now I just get the figures from Greentree and the job is done in minutes.”
The staff using Greentree appreciate having a system that was able to work for them, rather than force unwanted change.
“We feel that the system is there to help us, rather than us being told what to do by the system,” Tony says.
Light years ahead
Like most Australian businesses, Interaust has had to battle through tough economic times and stiff competition. Greentree provides an important edge through bringing a new level of efficiency.
“I’d say we’re light years ahead of where we were,” Tony concludes. “We’re now doing things that make for a better customer experience, and we’re happy that we’ve been able to simplify our processes.
“There was no way we could continue living in the past. We had to modernise, and Greentree has helped us to do that.”
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