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4SL business success leads to purchase of Sage Coretime

The Client

4SL are a successful IT services provider offering business backup and storage services to enterprises. Recently listed in the Sunday Times Tech Track they are one of the fastest growing IT companies in the UK. In an interview with their CEO, Barnaby Mote explains that though it might be considered one of the less glamorous areas of IT, there is a huge requirement across the world for these types of services.

Barnaby continues, “Gartner values the global market for backup to be $40 Billion. We provide enterprise level backup and storage services, from consultancy to managed services. We are product-agnostic which means we recommend the most appropriate solution to do the job.”

Their client list amounts to an impressive portfolio of well-known names by anybody’s standards. Barnaby says, “Our clients historically come from the financial services sector: investment banks, fund managers and insurers. We started to diversify about 3 years ago, and now we are very diverse. Our clients come from the oil and gas industry, manufacturing as well as FMCG and we sell over 50% through channel partners. Our biggest client is HP but we also work with other IT providers such as Symantec and SunGard. Channel partners tend to bring us in when they want to augment their depth of consulting expertise specifically in backup and storage.”

Business growth has meant that staff numbers have increased rapidly and they now total around 55 in the UK with a further 20 in India. Consultants visit clients in locations anywhere from Dubai to Singapore as well as within central Europe.

The problem

By 2011 4SL had reached crunch point with their existing manual spread-sheet system for tracking time and expenses. With ever increasing staff numbers they realised that they needed a complete review of their system.
Barnaby explains, “We were recording time and expenses using spread-sheets and it was extremely cumbersome and completely unscalable. We needed a far better way of managing both timesheets and expenses. Although on the consulting side of the business we do have some fixed price work, most jobs are based on a day rate so we needed to bill time on that basis. Internally we wanted to understand resource cost allocations across the managed services clients and track people’s time better.”
They decided they needed an online system that was quick to access and painless to administer. With staff travelling overseas, they also needed to be able to access the timesheet system  remotely.
He continues, “We looked at Sage 200 Accounting and the Project Accounting module but it didn’t really fit our requirements and would have required a great deal of customisation. It was total overkill for our needs and didn’t really do what we wanted it to do. It was also far too expensive. When we looked at Coretime it did exactly what we wanted it to do.”

The solution

“We started with around 20 users and we now have 55 in the UK and a further 20 in India. Pretty much everyone is using Coretime even me! We have grown massively since we took on Coretime. We would have needed an army of people in Finance without Coretime.”

Describing their current usage of the system, Barnaby continues, “Everybody has to fill in timesheets at the end of the month. Staff record a standard 40 hour week and occasionally some overtime.  Although Coretime will allow you to record down to intervals of 15 minutes, we only record by the hour because we don’t need that granular detail.  All employees also use it to record their expenses and the Operations Manager ensures it is all ready for month end. That’s when time gets extracted from Coretime and we then use that detail on project work to provide the detail alongside billing for clients. Expenses also get extracted and uploaded into Sage.“

Unlike manual spread-sheet systems Sage Coretime stores all data in a secure database so that data can easily be used for reporting.  Although a wealth of pre-formatted reports are available as standard 4SL have chosen to take a very hands-on approach to reporting and used their in-house IT skills to allow them to extract data. Barnaby comments, “Our reports are completely bespoke so we do generate our own reporting out of Coretime as well as out of Sage 50. We see that as one of the advantages of Coretime. We know what data we can get out of Coretime and we’ve used internal resource to build SQL reports to get the analysis we need. We use the data to help us understand our cost allocations in a great deal of detail.”

Looking back at their usage of their previous spread-sheet system he continues, “Our previous system was utterly un-scalable and we reached the limits of what we were able to cope with. Those spread-sheets just wouldn’t have been able to provide us with the level of information we need now. We need the details of hourly billing for micro-projects and we need to understand the cost allocation across all the various client projects and subprojects. That just wouldn’t have been possible previously. Coretime has saved us a lot of time.”

Since implementing Sage Coretime 3 years ago 4SL have undertaken one software upgrade. Barnaby adds, “We have used support for an upgrade and help to get a couple of reports we needed and the support team have always been very responsive. They get stuff done very quickly. Even on the upgrade when we were worried about the potential disruption, it went very smoothly. We migrated from a server in the cloud to a new server and Onesys tested it and it was all fine and it all went very smoothly.”

He concludes, “Coretime is now fundamental to enabling us to do what we need to do: Invoicing, expense and time tracking as well as cost allocations. It is now a critical part of our infrastructure. “

Onesys are the number one supplier of Sage Coretime in the UK with over 400 client installations. Contact Onesys for more information on how Sage Coretime can help your business. We offer a full consultation and free trial of the software so that you understand exactly how Sage Coretime will help your business.