Aqilla, a cloud-based accounting and ERP solution, has helped Ryedale Group — UK specialist experts in sustainable plastic printing — significantly cut their annual accounting costs. The implementation of Aqilla’s cloud-based offering also sparked a transformation of Ryedale’s entire accounting operation, enhancing their level of customer service, connecting processes across the business, increasing productivity, and improving user experience.
Ryedale Group is a Yorkshire-based, family-run, sustainable plastic printing business. Now in its third generation of management, the business has recently been transformed: “radical change” to processes and technologies across the organisation have created greater efficiencies, improved the customer experience, and increased productivity. This has helped the business to counter the disruption caused by the pandemic and gain a competitive edge. Ryedale has since been able to diversify, adding a warehousing and storage offering.
Implementing Aqilla accounting software has not only helped Ryedale achieve business improvement goals but has also made a major contribution to reducing business expenditure; switching from the previous accounting system to Aqilla has reduced the total cost of ownership by an estimated 84% per annum, amounting to savings well in excess of £50,000 a year.
Like many medium-sized enterprises, Ryedale’s operations were severely disrupted by the pandemic. With staff on furlough, the leadership team took the opportunity to transform the organisation, implementing new processes and technologies that would increase productivity and gain a competitive advantage. Project management software that would automate the sales process from quotation and costing through to the design and production stage was put in place.
However, Ryedale’s accounting system, Syspro, was proving costly and cumbersome. Expensive to maintain and not agile enough to pivot with the new organisation, Finance Director, Julie Davis, decided it was time to replace Syspro with a cloud-based platform. A new accounting software application was needed to integrate accounting with sales and production processes, save time, and improve the overall experience for staff and customers.
On why the business initially chose Aqilla, Julie Davis said, “We briefly considered Sage and Xero, but we knew that neither of these products could be adapted to fit our business needs. We also looked at Microsoft Dynamics, but the system was far too complex. As a configurable, agile and powerful system, Aqilla falls somewhere in between, ticking all the boxes for a business our size while keeping our total cost of ownership low.”
Slicker processes with integrated applications
Key to the business transformation project, Ryedale automated the process of managing a printing job through order, design, and production. The system Ryedale implemented to deliver this also gave clients visibility of the project in process, enhancing the overall client experience as well as streamlining the internal processes for customer service staff.
Before Aqilla, the team had to create quotes and activate live jobs in the production management software, then repeat the tasks again in the accounting system. Integrating Aqilla with this core line of business app means that staff work solely in a single system while data is automatically replicated in Aqilla for accounting and analysis.
Confident, data-led management decisions
“For the first time, I’m able to share drill-down management reports in Aqilla with my leadership team. I can do this because the technology makes it easy but also because I’m 100% confident in my data. We are already seeing the advantages; we can see what’s happening with sales and where we need to focus our efforts,” said Julie Davis.
While senior leadership has access to the management reports in Aqilla, Julie and her team use the Sharperlight business intelligence tool (supplied by Aqilla) to create more specific, self-service reports from the database. “If I want a piece of information, I can get right to it quickly using Sharperlight,” said Julie.
A tailored implementation service that ensures Aqilla meets precise business requirements
The highly personalised service that Aqilla’s implementation and support team offer was a major deciding factor for choosing Aqilla over Xero or Sage.
“Aqilla’s implementer was really good at interpreting what we needed doing and offering alternative ways to achieve it,” said Julie Davis. She added, “There were times when we changed our mind when we realised a process could be improved, and he was always able to make the changes quickly because he knew the system so well.”
A process of continual improvement
At the time of writing, the system has been fully operational for more than six months, although Julie feels that there is much to explore to further improve their operations. She said, “Implementing Aqilla has been a radical change for us. Now we’re familiar with it, we can see more ways to improve and more processes that could be slicker, especially when it comes to the integration. We want to improve our time-keeping processes and also get deeper into the API so that we can share another layer of data between systems.”
Ryedale has achieved a number of significant business goals by implementing Aqilla, including a hugely reduced annual cost, digital transformation of the accounting operation, an enhanced level of customer service, connected processes across the business, increased productivity, and a much-improved user experience. But the real day-to-day advantage is in the time, and resources that Julie has saved. She concludes, “Aqilla has made everything a lot easier. We were on the cusp of recruiting another member of staff to our accounting team, but Aqilla has taken the pressure off, and we are able to cope for the moment because our processes are so much better.”