West Electrical Contractors of Newberry, Inc. is a family owned business operating in Newberry, South Carolina. The company has thrived on the basis of superior service, quality workmanship and professional service since 1961. West Electrical provides commercial and industrial electrical work for churches; schools; hospitals; recreational, industrial and manufacturing facilities; as well as for parks and commercial projects.

For many years, West Electrical had operated on a DOS-Based program that had worked very well for them. However, when the technology became obsolete they had to upgrade to a newer version. Tiffany West, Corporate Secretary and Office Manager for West Electrical recalls, “We expected the new software to work as well as our old system and on the surface it looked like the perfect program for our business.” In an industry with very unique requirements, West Electrical needed a solution that could create the appropriate contracts and forms for their larger jobs, as well as provide them with holding retention capabilities. Tiffany explains, “Holding retention is where we hold 10% of the amount invoiced and then release it in increments as the job progresses to ensure everything is completed in a timely manner. If a software system can provide this capability, it will allow us to keep track of how much was billed versus how much was paid – and how much will be paid in the future.”

Loss of Power leaves West Electrical in the Dark

Unfortunately, after purchasing and installing the software, West Electrical realized that it did not work like it was supposed to, and it calculated their accounting incorrectly causing a large number of problems. The two biggest issues West Electrical faced were system downtime and unreliable data. The backups that were pre-established by the software, backed up exponentially every night. This meant that it not only backed up new data, but also all of the old data on top of it. This overloaded their server causing it to crash several times a day, resulting in a time consuming system re-boot each time. In addition, the system was completely unreliable. Tiffany remembers, “We were forced to do a lot by hand because we couldn’t trust the system to calculate properly. It was so bad that the software support people couldn’t figure out what was going on and so they would periodically have to go in and make changes forcing it to balance on a regular basis. While this fixed it temporarily, we still didn’t know which numbers were accurate, and which weren’t.” The original secretary to the owner who had been with the company for over 45 years remembered how to do things by hand (as she had in the early days of the company), and taught the staff the old methods in order to help them attempt to verify the data outside the system. Unfortunately, this meant that they had to do the same work two to three times, wasting precious time and resources.

To make matters worse, support was difficult at best. Tiffany explains, “On any given day we may or may not have been able to reach someone for help, and towards the end there wasn’t any support at all.” Eventually the software was sold to a new company, and that new company found it to be so bad they ultimately decided not to sell or support it. This only gave West Electrical a year to find something new.

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

West Electrical started researching new solutions and providers and were eventually referred to Accounting Systems, Inc. “When ASI came in to meet with us we were immediately impressed with their willingness to learn about our industry, and how we wanted to run our business in order to help us select and implement the right solution,” recalls Tiffany. “They didn’t come across to us as ‘salesmen’ but as people who used the product and knew how it worked. They listened to our needs and provided us with educated answers. We were very excited!” West Electrical naturally decided to hire ASI and chose to implement Sage MAS 90 (Sage 100) ERP .

A Bright Future

With their new system, West Electrical has been able to streamline their office, get better reporting, and integrate a solution to assist with their hold retention requirements. The reduction in workload and ease of use of the new system has allowed West Electrical to reduce their office staff from 6 to 3 employees – a huge savings of time and money. Additionally, ASI was able to create specific reports which allows West Electrical to view their business data more efficiently. Tiffany explains, “As a company that handles contract jobs, it is important for us to be able to look up certain data on a regular basis. We are now able to track our estimated materials and labor versus actual to ensure projects are on track. ASI also gave us a job labor report that allows us to monitor every job we’re currently working on. This includes estimated materials, labor and hours as well as the amount the job was contracted for, how much we expected to spend and the cost to date. It’s incredible how much more business insight we have now.” Furthermore, ASI integrated another solution called American Institute of Architecture, or AIA for West Electrical’s billing allowing them to practice hold retention. They can release or receive payments in small increments and the system keeps track of it all. This has made doing business much easier for both the Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and Purchasing departments.

Tiffany concludes, “ASI has done such a great job for us, we are always happy to refer them to others. Their expertise and knowledge of the system is truly incredible, and they provide almost immediate support. Sometimes I make a mistake and don’t figure it out until several months later, and they are always happy to help us find a way to fix it! Our business has benefited greatly from our partnership with ASI, and the difference between our old software and Sage MAS 90 (Sage 100) is beyond compare. It is truly the best solution for our company and we couldn’t be happier with how everything has turned out.”

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