The Clean, Affordable, Water Filtration Solution
Zero Technologies has a 15-year history of innovation in the area of delivering clean, potable water without the plastic waste that comes from traditional bottled water solutions. After significant testing—some of which indicated that bottled water can have the same quality issues as tap water—they set out to develop a comprehensive water filtration solution that was affordable for the average household. The result, a patented technology known as ZeroWater®, is sold through a variety of channels, including infomercial sales through call centers, web-based sales and traditional retailers.
Where It Hurt: Proper Documentation for Audits
Sometimes it takes a catalyst event to inspire a small company to change the way it operates. For Zero Technologies, a Philadelphia area company specializing in patented water filtration systems, that catalyst for change came in the form of an investment from an SEC-regulated company.
On the surface, the QuickBooks system that Zero had been using was working well, but it didn’t provide the level of detail that the audit would require. Even though QuickBooks reports have numerous filtering and customization options, the program is not able to generate financial reports for compilation, review and audit engagements that meet Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS) No. 1 reporting standards. Additionally, QuickBooks can only deal with average cost inventory, not the preferred method in an audit requiring adherence to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).
With QuickBooks lacking the detailed accounting information needed in the Big 4 audit, and the inability of Zero’s Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access databases to track manufacturing, sales and inventory in a GAAP-compliant way, it was clearly time to invest in something new. Zero Technologies needed an integrated GAAP-compliant system that tied together call center orders, web orders, EDI and financial applications.
How We Made It All Better: Finding the Right Solution with Sage 500 ERP
As a CPA, Zero Technologies CFO Rob Thaler was already familiar with many business software programs and knew exactly what he didn’t want. He conducted his preliminary research online, and then invited software providers to provide additional information. “I was surprised to see that many hadn’t improved in the years since I had last seen them,” he said.
A Complete Enterprise Management Solution
Thaler had a different impression of Sage 500 ERP and CompuData. “Sage 500 ERP was well-reviewed, built for growth and really seemed to be the platform for the future.” Sage 500 ERP is a complete enterprise management solution. Based on solid financial accounting software, Sage 500 ERP integrates business intelligence, order processing, distribution and manufacturing to streamline operations, take control of production, and make sure that Big 4 audit went smoothly. Sage 500 ERP is an excellent product, but Thaler credits their CompuData business consultant for really making things happen. The implementation has resulted in transformational change for the business.
“The implementation [of SAGE ERP] has resulted in transformational change for the business.”
Further Changes: Improved Order Processing
Zero sells its water filters to consumers through a variety of channels. Many retail stores carry the products, including big box retailers like Home Depot, Walmart, CostCo and Walgreens. Zero ships direct from its warehouse and through third party logistics (3PL) companies. CompuData provided TrueCommerce EDI, a comprehensive, easy-to-use, point-and-click EDI solution that works in tandem with Sage ERP to accommodate EDI orders and shipments with retailers and Zero’s 3PL.
Automating Processes, Increasing Efficiency
Orders from Zero’s web site flow directly into Sage’s order entry system without re-keying or delays. Completing the solution, CompuData recommended Avatax, an integrated sales tax management solution that runs behind the scenes to automatically assign and maintain sales tax schedules by item and by customer address, avoiding tedious manual work. CompuData also provided an AT&T solution to meet Zero Technologies’ growing telecom needs.
What’s Next: Taking Zero to the Next Level
Approximately 15 of the company’s 50 employees use the system on a daily basis. “The new system automated and integrated order processing,” said Thaler. “It’s really helped to streamline operations and eliminate clerical tasks.”
Thaler noted that the new systems have also helped them catch inventory, quality control and manufacturing discrepancies that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. “We have instant insights into aspects of our business that we didn’t previously,” he said. More than just a unique technology for water filtration, the company now has advanced business processes to support expanding sales avenues. With the comprehensive software in place, Zero Technologies is well positioned for the future.