Applied Educational Systems, Inc. (AES) provides digital curriculum resources for Health Science, Business, and Computer Applications educators in 43 states. The company offers online multimedia content for students, lessons plans, quizzes, and tests to career and technology centers, high schools, middle schools, and community colleges. AES’s blended learning curriculum teaches skills and concepts, facilitates certification success, builds career interests, and meets state, national and industry standards.
“Teachers and administrators come to us when they’re frustrated because they’re overwhelmed by creating lesson plans, grading, and other activities that prevent them from spending time with their students,” explains Jim Schultz, AES CEO & President.
“We put educators and their problems first. Their biggest complaint is they’re so busy doing other things; they can’t spend quality one-on-one time with their students. Our focus is to give them the tools they need so they can succeed in finding more time to tend to their students’ individual needs.”
According to Schultz, striving for customers’ success is always AES’s top priority, not trying to make them happy.
“When businesses focus on making customers happy, they often lose their focus on finding solutions that drive success. Being success-focused requires asking tough questions, and sometimes having fierce, not-so-happy conversations.”
AES has a 94% customer retention rate, so their success-first approach is driving success for them as well.
But they’ve met challenges along the way.
The Problem: Time-Wasting Manual Processes and Lack of Total System Integration
Before working with Cargas Systems, AES had efficiencies through integrating various cloud-based tools like Hubspot and Salesforce, but not everything was going smoothly.
“We had some productivity gains in the areas of inbound marketing and sales, but we had a sore thumb that was causing us pain administratively and operationally,” shares Schultz. “Our order entry/accounting package didn’t tie into our other systems.”
In addition, the server-client accounting system they had been using for ten years didn’t have the capability to do revenue recognition (to amortize subscription revenues) even though they had spent a good deal of money both upfront and beyond to customize the system. That left staff members tracking revenue manually in spreadsheets.
AES realized they were wasting a lot of time in back office functions and missing opportunities because of the lack of integration between their server-client order entry and accounting system and their other systems.
“We don’t like manual processes, so we’ve always tried to automate as much as possible. But we didn’t want to settle for automation that wouldn’t give us the ability to deliver personalized service.”
Like most small businesses and mid-sized companies, AES didn’t have the have financial or in-house technical capabilities to do a full ERP system.
They knew they needed a cloud-based order entry and accounting solution. They knew which one they wanted. And they needed a partner they could trust to implement it.
Problem Solved: Intacct Accounting Software Implemented and Integrated by Cargas
“We wanted integrated systems across the board so our employees could access them whenever they need them, anytime, anywhere, from any device,” shares Schultz.
AES found Intacct to have the revenue recognition and order entry capabilities they needed, but they didn’t have the expertise or capacity in-house to set it up and integrate it with their other systems.
“We chose Cargas for three primary reasons: relationship, social proof, and company culture.”
Schultz knew Cargas CEO, Chip Cargas, through their membership in the same Vistage International group. He knew others on the Cargas team as well and trusted them.
He knew Cargas had done that type of integration many times before and had experience with meeting all sorts of challenges faced by different customers.
Schultz knew and liked the team culture at Cargas. “I knew we weren’t going to get any B.S.” says Jim. “The team members at Cargas are straight shooters who aren’t afraid to ask tough questions and address issues head on.”
Cargas handled all project management aspects of the changeover from AES’s current order entry and accounting solution to Intacct – implementation, integration with AES’s other systems, and training.
“All the while, we were able to focus on what we do best – serving our customers and helping them succeed.”
Where the Rubber Hits the Road
With Intacct, AES hoped to reduce order entry time, and with the money saved in reduced labor costs, they intended to invest more in marketing.
The Cargas solution exceeded their expectations, reducing AES’s order entry time by more than 50 percent!
The associated cost savings enabled them to hire a new marketing team member.
“We were amazed by how much time we wasted before. The integration has helped us reduce time on manual tasks,” says Schultz. “And it has enabled our team to get order entry, financial details, and customer information from any device whenever they need it. That has helped us secure renewals more efficiently and effectively.”
Final Thoughts: AES’s Words of Business Advice
Schultz shares this insight and advice with other business owners and managers:
“If a small business owner is looking toward the future, I think their company needs to move to cloud-based solutions. It will let them integrate their systems more easily, decrease their internal costs, and allow them to spend more money on making their customers successful.”
“I recommend Cargas because they can provide the technical know-how and project management to get small businesses there. But more important, because they’ll focus on helping you succeed.”