Moving to midmarket business software has helped Strine Printing, based in York, Pa., increase the accuracy and timeliness of its financial information while saving about 2,000 hours each year.
In the past, Strine Printing used industry-specific software to manage project accounting and maintained general ledger, accounts receivable and accounts payable information on spreadsheets. The approach was time-consuming, error-prone and meant that up-to-date financial information was available a month after the month ended. Recently, the company switched to a midmarket system, Dynamics, from Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions (www.microsoft.com/greatplains or www.greatplains.com), while implementing links that feed information to it from the industry-specific software and its payroll processing service.
“The new approach saves scores of hours every month in manual data entry and reconciliation,” said Rick Brenner, controller for Strine Printing. “Accounts receivable, accounts payable, financial statements and nearly all other reports are now accurate as of the time they were produced. “Another key advantage is that managers can now drill down into financial reports to the level of the individual transaction to get a better understanding of the numbers.”
Strine is a full-service commercial sheetfed printer that produces hundreds of millions of greeting cards and packages every year. In each of the past five years, Strine has experienced double-digit growth, and it has more than doubled the number of employees over that period.
Despite an expansion project several years ago, this steady increase recently prompted the company to build asecond facility, its 140,000-square-foot packaging division.
Up to the minute
According to the company, the new business software has dramatically increased the quantity, accuracy and timeliness of information. Entering each transaction within an integrated system means that income statements, balance sheets and other financial reports can be produced in much more detail than was possible in the past.
“We now produce income statements with five pages of detail compared to one page, which was the most we could do in the past,” Brenner says. “The ability to drill down into reports to see detailed transactions gives managers the ability to immediately answer questions about an expense or revenue item that in the past would have probably taken hours of sorting through paper files to resolve.
“Prior to implementing the new system, we had four accounting staff members and always had difficulty in getting all the work done. The new system has saved us so much time that we were able to reduce our staff by one through attrition even as we continued to grow at a rapid rate and still provide much more complete and timely information without any strain. The fact that three people now handle accounting for a 500-person company is, I think, a good indication of how efficiently we are now operating,” he explains.
Along with installing the new system, Strine made some significant changes in its accounting methods. Cargas Systems set up a routine using the Dynamics Integration Manager that automatically imports invoices into the system. The company’s accounts receivable person also enters checks on the day that they are received. This means that accounts receivable reports can now be generated that are accurate as of the time they are created. Just as important, if any questions arise from the accounts receivable report, they can be addressed simply by clicking on the item and drilling down to the underlying transactions. By the same token, invoices are now entered directly into the accounting system, as are vendor payments, making it possible to generate up-to-date reports anytime and provide live drill-down capabilities.
Strine uses the multidimensional analysis feature to tie invoices and vouchers to specific fixed assets. Multidimensional analysis makes it possible to categorize and track highly specific transaction activity by attaching analysis codes to specific accounts and tracking the activity that affects these accounts. This makes it easy to track all of the expenses that are incurred when a new printing press is installed such as the down payment, installment payments, foundation, electrical, programming, etc. Reports can be run at any time to compare the costs of the project to date vs. budget.