Current Energy Case Study for Microsoft Dynamics
About The Company
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Current Energy pioneers new strategies and services that help both residential and commercial customers reduce their energy costs. The company’s multiple business units include energy brokerage, facilities management, field service, manufacturing, and the world’s first energy-efficiency retail store. The breadth of offerings at Current Energy — from energy-efficient light bulbs to energy-management services — provides a comprehensive approach to reducing energy consumption and expense.
Much of the growth at Current Energy has come recently through acquisition and the pioneering of new ventures, and the company plans to expand operations nationwide. This rapid growth, into both new lines of business and geographic areas, was hampered by the company’s previous accounting software, QuickBooks.
“Running a growing, multifaceted organization in QuickBooks became unmanageable. Each time we added a line-of-business, we had to create a new instance in QuickBooks. It made recording intercompany transactions and bank reconciliation extremely difficult,” recalls Lee Horton, IT Director at Current Energy.
As business expanded, Current Energy spent an increasing amount of effort reconciling discrepancies in its accounts, managing cash flow requirements, and reporting accurate financial information to the private investors who own the company. “Because QuickBooks is not a transactional financial system, we relied on paper processes to track transactions and changes. And with seven people in our accounting department, plus a Director of Finance, it became very difficult to maintain transactional integrity and track how we arrived at a certain point in our balance,” explains Horton. In addition, limited accounting functionality meant that the business management team did not have the up-to-date information or flexible reporting it needed to support confident decisions.
Current Energy also needed tighter integration between its lines of business to facilitate increased cross-selling. Because the company has such a broad range of products and services, customers can get confused without a seamless product learning and purchasing experience. “As a business goal, we’re trying to foster cross-selling and sharing of customer opportunities between our different lines of business. The inability to record intercompany transactions and purchases in QuickBooks made that highly impractical,” says Horton.
Current Energy understood that its growing needs required an enterprise accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, so the company evaluated several software packages, including SAP and Oracle. In the end, Current Energy chose Microsoft Dynamics™ GP business management software because of the ease of implementation and integration with Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS), which Current Energy uses in its retail locations.
“The time-to-benefit for Microsoft Dynamics GP was probably the most important factor in our choosing that solution over others. We were looking at a one- to two-year implementation with SAP or Oracle, while Microsoft Dynamics GP could be up and running in just a few months,” says Horton.
Current Energy worked with Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Inscio to implement Microsoft Dynamics GP. The ability to handle intercompany transactions combined with reporting capabilities makes it easier to manage accounts at Current Energy. For example, the company can more easily track fixed-asset depreciation for equipment in the field and credit revenue from related contracts against the upfront labor and equipment costs.
Inscio also deployed Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office, which extends financial and ERP data beyond the accounting department, enabling the entire staff to access accounting data and functionality from within the familiar programs in the Microsoft Office system. The entire staff benefits from features that make their jobs easier, such as the ability to manipulate ERP data in Microsoft Office Excel® and organize and display data from the accounting system.
Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office also enables a seamless customer experience by pulling data from various business systems — including Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics RMS, and Current Energy’s field service solution — into Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007. Inscio developed a prototype kiosk interface, shown in Figure 1, that takes advantage of this integration so that customers visiting the store can easily configure and purchase products and services from different business units.
Microsoft Dynamics GP also provides Current Energy with functions beyond accounting, such as the potential ability to track just-in-time inventory, bills of materials, and delivery schedules for the company’s manufacturing operations.
With Microsoft Dynamics GP, Current Energy has a solid foundation on which to grow its operations. Microsoft Dynamics GP provides the enterprise accounting functions that Current Energy needs to manage multiple lines of business, enable seamless customer experiences, and gain real-time insight into business performance
In the first month after implementing Microsoft Dynamics GP, we were able to close our monthly financials in just two days. On QuickBooks, that process took us two weeks.
Lee Horton, IT Director, Current Energy