Sage: A partner, not a service provider
Importer and exporter Jupiter Group is a big advocate of Sage’s business solutions. As Director Yvonne Tweddle explains, the benefits the business gets are larger than simply a service
Which Sage services does Jupiter use?
We use X3. When we began life in 2001, we used one of the other Sage products and it always gave us accurate accounting information. The one thing you need a finance programme to do is give you accurate information and that’s what it delivered. When we looked at investing in a bigger, better version, we went across the whole market to look at all the different products at that level and still decided Sage was the best product for our business.
What was it that made Sage stand out?
There was the aspect of having accurate accounts, but the advantage of Sage X3 is that it is modular and it comes with bolt-ons. So as our business grows, the software can morph to what our business requires. For example, there are add-ons that help with the movement of products through the business so we can accurately account for them.
How had that worked previously?
A lot of it was manual systems. The businesses we’ve acquired haven’t used Sage products before and were more reliant on a manual system and data entry, whereas what we’re looking at is capturing things as soon as possible. Sage allows us to bolt on products it doesn’t produce. That might be a traceability product or something that’s helping us with logistics or more detailed counts on things and translates that into financial information, which is exactly what we want.
For some wholesalers, the cost of adopting a new technology is daunting. How soon did Jupiter see a benefit?
Very quickly and it’s sort of underestimated. You get the quote in and think ‘wow, that’s a lot of money’ but when you start using it and understand its capabilities, you see how much it benefits you. You constantly have to think about what your business is doing and how it’s doing it, and sometimes change your processes slightly to adapt to the programme.
That can benefit your business because you’re capturing that really detailed information. Our business is based all over the world, but we can look at all of that from here in the UK. The fact it’s on the cloud as well gives us that transparency into those efficiencies. The return of investment pays for itself over and over again, just purely by having that control.
How easy was it to integrate the technology into your business?
We almost look on it like pyramid selling, so we start at the top and the people are trained, and sell that down to the team. We do something we call a run-through, where we might align two systems side by side – the one that’s currently doing it and the one we’re introducing – then train up our teams so everyone is fluid, before turning the old one off and fully implementing, which means the transition is more achievable. There are always little problems, but making champions in your business so there are go-to people to offer support also helps.
Does the Sage software help with decision making too?
In terms of looking at cost transparency, that’s essential for any business because you’re only as good as your last set of results. But the reality is you also want to look forward at things, so even being able to record the number of items packed and creating a ratio from that can give us a daily measure of whether we’re on track – and we can then extract the actuals to understand the true cost of it to make sure our check is correct.
It makes us a leaner business in terms of precisely managing costs, which in this industry is essential. From our perspective, we can go into every part of the trade truly knowing our costs, therefore, when we’re selling the product, we know we’re going to make money.
As the business develops, how easily does the software adapt to your needs?
Sage X3 is constantly evolving because businesses don’t stay still, so some of the progress made may not suit our business, but other things will directly help us. The projects we’re working on with Sage will help us to stay ahead of our competitors because we’ve bought into the change of business and system that supports it. In a nutshell, that’s why we really like it and Sage really works for our business.
Sage is part of our journey and we want to work with them on a proactive basis. So if there’s something they’re developing or on the market, I don’t want to hear about it at the point of selling; I want them to come to me and suggest it as a good solution for my business. We constantly update Sage on what our business is doing and where we’re going, which helps.
What’s your key message to wholesalers considering Sage products?
Go and have a look at businesses that use Sage already to see for yourself. None of the systems these days are cheap and you’ve got to have a vision of where you want to go and make sure you buy a system that gets you there – and that’s what Sage does very well.
For more information on Sage and its X3 product, visit the Sage website.