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                   w w w. e i n x s c                                                       l 8 o 5
                                                                                          Vo . 1 N . 1                                                Mid-November 2002

                                              A Wind2 Case Study                                                       ledger, accounts receivable and       as Microsoft Great Plains or

                          KEEP ON ROLLING                                                                              accounts payable modules, not
                                                                                                                       typically found in most PSA solu-
                                                                                                                                                             ACCPAC with integration to third
                                                                                                                                                             party solutions.
                                                                                                                       tions.                                   For some industries, the generic
                                                                                                                          A challenge for many compa-        accounting systems offer a com-
By Michael Burns                        programs including Outlook and          determine which sub-contracts          nies that use non-client/server       prehensive solution and no third

        ituation: Turner Fleischer      Abra HR. Wind2 is available using       should be paid from each client        products such as Microsoft Visual     party system is required. Some of
        Architects Inc. (TFAI) pro-     either Microsoft Visual Foxpro or       cheque received.                       Foxpro, is poor performance when      the generic accounting systems
        vides urban design, plan-       Microsoft SQL Server as the data-          Wind2 is not that well-known        the database becomes very large       have tens of thousands of cus-
ning approvals, private sector          base.                                   in Canada except for the A&E           or there are many simultaneous        tomers, and it is hard to beat their
development, residential and com-          TFAI has licenses to allow up        (architects      and     engineers)    users of the system.                  level of R&D investment, their
mercial architectural services.         to 12 (two full, 10 time sheet) con-    industry. A&E new clients in              In 2001, Wind2 released the        excellence in the basics such as
TFAI operates out of Toronto with       current users. They have found          Canada are attracted to Wind2          Microsoft SQL Server version of       financial reporting, and the local
a staff of 45.                          this sufficient as users do not need    partly through word of mouth,          the software, which would be suit-    support that is available.
    Fourteen years ago, TFAI            to work in the system at the same       Internet searches and targeted         able for larger clients.                 In most major cities across
selected Wind2. In software years,      time.                                   advertising.                              Lately, there have been few        Canada, you have many choices in
that was in the dark ages. Initially,                                              Wind2 does not currently sup-       challenges for TFAI. TFAI             getting local support for some of
there were problems, and after a        Challenges: A few years ago,            port automated multi-currency.         chooses to pay Wind2 for support      the generic accounting systems.
year, Ellen Bensky was hired to         TFAI considered switching to a          Canadian firms require multi-cur-      on an incident basis rather than      Can the vertical market vendors
fully implement the system.             new system. Local support was           rency if there is a signif icant       taking an annual technical support    compete in the long run with these
    Thirteen years later, Ellen is      not great at the time, and the          amount of foreign currency trans-      contract. Problems are resolved       leading accounting systems that
still there and so is Wind2, which      existing version did not address        actions. Wind2 also does not offer     usually within the same day. If a     continue to add additional func-
has gone through a number of            one of their more important             a Canadian payroll system, but         new report is required, the local     tionality?
reincarnations including from           requirements.                           there is integration with a number     Wind2 representative can do it           In my opinion, the answer is
DOS to Windows.                             TFAI needed to bill their clients   of third party solutions including     quickly and at a reasonable price.    yes. But due diligence is required
                                        for extras on a fixed-fee contract.     ADP, Ceridian and EasyPay.                                                   to make sure that the vertical solu-
Objectives: The initial objectives      They had to use Word to generate           There were a number of older        Costs: Today, a 50-employee           tion vendor has a solid technology
for TFAI were fairly simple — to        an invoice that contained both          machines in TFAI’s office, which       license with 10 concurrent            base, continues to invest in R&D,
record time and expenses against a      fixed fees, and time and materials.     were not getting good perform-         timesheet users and two full con-     has happy clients and local sup-
project. ACCPAC was used for            The Windows version of Wind2            ance. Rather than upgrading each       current users of Wind2 would cost     port.
general ledger, accounts payable        was released at this time. It con-      of these machines, TFAI found it       approximately $10,000 US. TFAI           For the past three years, Ellen
and accounts receivable.                tained many system changes,             more economical to install Ter-        spends about $600 US to keep          Bensky has attended the Wind2
   In the early days, staff recorded    which provided solutions to many        minal Server.                          their system up to date. When new     customer conference, which is
their time on paper and office staff    of the problems that TFAI was              With Terminal Server, the           modules are released or major         held in Denver for two days each
keyed it into the system. Later,        experiencing with the DOS ver-          Wind2 system runs on an applica-       changes occur, such as DOS to         September. Ellen was one of 140
staff entered their time into Excel     sion.                                   tion server. The workstation con-      Windows, there are additional         that attended the conference this
spreadsheets, and it was manually           One of the enhancements             tains the client portion of Terminal   charges.                              year, and she expressed enthu-
re-entered into Wind2.                  allowed for different contract types    Server, and only the user interface    For example, TFAI recently paid       siasm for the annual conference,
   TFAI and Wind2 have come a           to be billed on one invoice for one     commands are processed by the          about $600 US for the Accounts        which is a good barometer of the
long way since then. Today, staff       project so that both fixed fees and     workstation and sent over the net-     Receivable Collection module,         health of Wind2.
key their time and notes directly       time and materials could appear on      work or the Internet. With Ter-        which was recently released by           “Keep on Rollin’” was the
into Wind2. Wind2 is also used for      the same invoice. As well, a local      minal Server, TFAI was able to         Wind2.                                impromptu theme of Wind2’s cus-
invoicing, budgeting, project man-      representative in Toronto — Brink       keep the older machines and still                                            tomer conference.
agement, purchasing, general            & Associates Inc. — now does a          get good performance. As well,         Benefits: TFAI’s growth since the        Dave Marvin, Wind2’s presi-
ledger, f inancial reporting,           good job in servicing the needs of      Terminal Server allows staff to        acquisition of Wind2 has been         dent and CEO, opened the confer-
accounts receivable and accounts        Wind2 clients who need local sup-       work on Wind2 remotely with            exponential, but still has the same   ence with this theme to describe
payable.                                port. Architectural firms will often    near real-time performance.            two administration resources it had   the remarkable resilience of
Solution: Wind2 has about 3,000         have to carry sub-contracts within         Wind2 is a professional service     15 years ago. TFAI’s clients can be   Wind2 customers still struggling
clients worldwide with 175 in           their fees.                             automation (PSA) system, but is        very fussy about the invoices they    from a year of economic chal-
Canada. About 80 per cent of all            Often, customers prefer that        missing some functionality found       receive. Many clients have specific   lenges. The theme also applies to
clients are architects, engineers,      the architectural firm “hold” the       in other PSA systems, while at the     ways they want the information        TFAI, which has come such a long
environmental, geo-technical and        sub-contracts and send one bill for     same time contains functionality       displayed on the invoice.             way with Wind2.
survey consultants. The remainder       all services. TFAI is required to       not typically found in PSA.               TFAI is able to change the
is divided between marketing,           maintain the budgets of all con-           It is missing resource manage-      invoice to give clients invoices in
management consultants, software        sultants.                               ment with the ability to schedule      exactly the format they request,      Michael Burns, CA, MBA, is
developers, IT consultants,                 One invoice is produced for all     resources (although it is scheduled    thus has a happier client, and        president of 180 Systems. 180
research labs, and staffing compa-      trades. When a payment is               for the next release of Wind2),        faster payment of invoices.           Systems provides objective con-
nies.                                   received, Wind2 generates a report      knowledge management and tight         Conclusion: There is a debate         sulting advice in the selection and
   Besides the functionality,           that tells TFAI which consultants       integration with Microsoft Pro-        about vertical market solutions       implementation of accounting sys-
Wind2 includes Crystal Reports,         are to be paid from this receipt.       ject. None of these modules are        such as Wind2, which cater to a       tems. Michael can be reached at
customer relationship manage-           This saves hours of manually            important to TFAI. On the other        specif ic industry, compared to       416-963-1296 or by e-mail at:
ment, integration to a number of        searching through the f iles to         hand, Wind2 does have the general      generic accounting systems such

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