A fast-growing winemaker unlocks benefits across the organisation with PlusOne.
Rapid business growth comes with its own challenges, just ask Todd Burns. Burns, the accountant for wine-making success story Sileni Estates, has seen it expand into 80 overseas markets and production soar at rates of up to 25% annually.
Nice if you can get it, but the growth did rather put Sileni’s finance processes to the test.
“The challenge isn’t just scale, it’s also complexity,” says Burns, who has been with Hawkes Bay-based Sileni for nine years. “As export sales have grown, we’ve needed to track profitability by market and by distributor, for example. In other words, much more granular reporting.”
Cue the introduction of a new accounting system, new reporting tools. and then, in 2016, an accounts payable automation solution. The existing manual system, Burns says, was “just getting swamped” turning around more than 1300 invoices a month. Too much time was spent emailing back and forth for invoice approvals and reviews; the choice was clear: hire another AP specialist or automate the entire process.
Burns opted for streamline’s PlusOne AP automation solution, introduced by technology company Sharp Corporation, largely because it is designed specifically for the unglamorous but critical AP function. “We don’t use purchase orders,” he explains. “Everything is actual, which is great for accuracy but it has to be timely. PlusOne is both accurate and quick.”
Burns says PlusOne has obvious and immediate benefits, and others that are less tangible. “The financial side is obviously important because, yes, we save a salary,” he says. “But it also means we’ve been able to redirect people into more interesting work. We’ve improved the job quality of the people in those positions.
“Beyond that, there’s a positive effect right across the business. It’s easier now for invoice approvers; they get everything in front of them in an email once a day.
Querying or disputing an invoice with PlusOne is simpler. The traceability is amazing. The vineyard guys spend less time approving things, too; they get to spend more time making wine.”
A downstream benefit for Burns’ team: spotting bottlenecks. PlusOne very quickly highlights where invoices are getting stuck. “People delaying approval, for example,” he says. “We can spot those and resolve them quickly.”
Burns himself feels like he’s got his life back. “I report monthly. If I’ve got a question about a specific invoice I can now look from the GL straight at the invoice in PlusOne through the link in our accounting software. Before, I’d have to go and track down the invoice. It means you’re concentrating on other important aspects of the job, like returning incremental improvements throughout the business.”