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Smart business management benefits even the smallest companies

The transition of a growing air technology company to an enterprise level business management.

You don't need to be a large corporation to take advantage of their business management applications - this is one of the most frequently voiced arguments for implementing Business Central. It sounds great, but many people are still afraid to make the change: they see these systems as complicated and can't imagine exactly how this upgrade could help a small business. That's why we'd like to show you, through the real-life example of Ecovent System Ltd, a three-man business, that using Business Central not only makes day-to-day problems much easier to solve, but also helps you plan your business for the near future very effectively. It's not the size of the company that matters when it comes to awareness - if it's made life easier for Ecovent System Ltd, a three-man business, you might want to take a look at it too. Zoltán Csipszer, owner-manager, answered our questions.

Ecovent System Ltd. has had a relatively short, yet adventurous life so far. Its product portfolio and activities have been steadily expanding and it has been very agile in its pursuit of business opportunities over the years. Could you share with us where you are now and what exactly are the products and services you are present in the market with?

Csipszer Zoltán: I started my business three and a half years ago, starting with cleaning, maintaining and inspecting air duct networks. Later, in order to be energy-conscious, we optimised our portfolio and added hydraulic and control services to cleaning. Then came the sale of air filters. Initially, we contracted with domestic suppliers, but later we thought that we needed a more complex solution to meet all the needs of the market. So we found a Dutch filter manufacturer and became their representative in Hungary, a relationship that has worked well ever since.

You have also introduced a number of IT improvements in the last three years - what is the reason for this openness to innovation?

Cs. Z.: At the moment the company has two employees apart from me, so it's not a huge organisation. However, my previous experience is in a multinational environment. In any case, I wanted to build a system that could help us in the short and medium term. We try to do everything online, we started with online invoicing from the beginning. Previously we used Google platforms to track projects and keep in touch, later we moved to Microsoft solutions, followed by Business Central.

Smooth transition in a few months

When and for what purpose did this transition take place?

Cs. Z.: The decision was made at the beginning of the year, but the real work started around May. It became operational in early October. In that time, we have completely customised the system to meet all our needs. The primary aim was to increase efficiency and to work with a minimum number of staff. The other reason was to plan for the future. With this management system, it doesn't matter whether we operate our own warehouse or a contract warehouse, inventory management will be transparent with both solutions. Now we can run the company, invoice and manage the business all in one interface. With Business Central, you can run daily, weekly or monthly statements and see the company's operations as densely as you want.

You launched this development around February, which means that the need to take this to the next level was there before the pandemic. How has the arrival of the mass home office and the change in customer demand affected your business?

Cs. Z.: Practically no way. We were immediately prepared, providing all colleagues with the portable devices and software they needed to work. Microsoft applications are available on virtually every device, so staff can work from anywhere, and sharing data between them is secure and fast.

What specific changes have you noticed from your customers?

Cs. Z.: Building personal relationships is one of the cornerstones of our company and especially of our sales. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, these face-to-face meetings have either been cancelled or moved online. We were not unprepared for this, but I think there were a lot of companies in Hungary who did not really know how to do this. What we saw in the first wave was that people were using different web platforms and there was a big confusion because one party was used to a different platform than the other. Because of that, there was a loss of efficiency. What I notice is that since then there has been a split in the use of these and the most common is Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

Opportunities have opened up that we would never have thought were necessary before.

You mentioned that the system started to operate fully personalised at the beginning of the autumn. What are some of the features that Business Central offers that are more than the systems you used before?

Cs. Z.: When a company starts up, the leader has a vision of the direction in which to take the work. Excel spreadsheets, Word templates, and other solutions come along to try to manage the processes. After a while, however, this is not enough, and in a flash you need a management system that can rethink operations and help you make decisions. This is where Business Central provides much more.

Which part of the process required the greatest investment of resources at the time of implementation?

Cs. Z.: Business Central, like most business management systems, has very high data requirements. The migration only works if you say, "Well, from now on, no more spreadsheets or anything else, we're going to manage everything in this. This has given me more than Excel right from the start: it has streamlined my accounting, my quotations, and I can track the status of orders in real time. I can see the whole sales and purchasing process in one interface. I know which customer I need to invoice at any given time and how accurate we are to the day in terms of accounting.

Could it be said that, in addition to solving everyday problems, it also helps with planning and decision-making?

Cs. Z.: We can absolutely say that. It has opened up opportunities that we never thought we would need before. For example, the use of dimensions. Think of a dimension system as a cube with information on each of its faces. At the same time, the administrative burden on sales people is reduced. In effect, the customers/suppliers/items themselves carry the information. If we keep these in dimensions, we will also have an insight into what areas we are strong in and what we should open up to.

Does this feed into your business planning? Are you listening less to "gut feeling" and more to data?

Cs. Z.: Yes. In fact, Business Central also has a business planning module where I can plan my expectations in advance and I can monitor the deviations continuously. It also has an artificial intelligence module for inventory management and business planning. We are not using this yet because it needs more time to make suggestions. But we definitely expect it in the future, it is worth introducing it into the company's operations. For example, it can help us to decide how much and at what throughput rate we should run our warehousing, but it also makes data-driven recommendations for business activities.

As an innovative company, what other IT developments are planned in the near future?

Cs. Z.: I believe that IT innovation should never stop. The moment development stops, the company immediately falls behind and can only be made up for later on the basis of higher costs. That's why we try to keep up our level. Right now we are in the background finishing up Business Central, fine tuning the accounting. Business Central has a camera/OCR module so that you can hold the invoice in front of the webcam and upload it into the system, the accountant doesn't even have to be notified, he sees that there is an open invoice and can book it. It's a small thing, but it saves a lot of time by uploading the data in real time, so you don't have to wait for it to be submitted once a month, and it helps the accountant by not having to do it all at once.

Want to know more about Business Central? Contact us!

Interested in the Ecovent System portfolio? Find more information here.



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