An Alberta refrigeration company is giving some accounting and service management tools a warm reception.

Vector Industries, an Edmonton-based holding company that looks after 11 refrigeration service companies, recently

upgraded its DOS-based back-end to Internet-enabled software running on Windows 2000.

The company was founded in 1968 as a residential service provider, then moved into the commercial refrigeration business and began adding companies to its roster until it reached 11 this year. Vector had been using DOS software from Cleveland, Ohio-based Data-Basics Inc. since 1994 and went with the same company for its upgrade.

“”A Windows-based program compared to a DOS-based program — there’s definitely a huge difference,”” said Vector controller Lora Lee Peaslee. “”Things are not having to be double-entered.””

Vector is using Data-Basics Escalation Manager software to improve its workflow between time-sheets, payroll, work orders and invoices. The purchase orders are attached to work orders at the time of purchase.

“”It has cut down the manual time substantially . . . and improved on the accuracy. There’s no time being missed or there’s no materials that are being missed because time sheets are being entered as they come in from the guys,”” said Peaslee.

Data-Basics software uses “”rules-based management”” to govern how the data is handled. “”We built this whole concept and made it pervasive throughout the software,”” said Arthur Divell, CEO of Data-Basics Inc. “”You take the time to set up the rules you want for things to happen — from service to project management.””

Vector began deploying the software in January and has rolled it out to eight of its companies so far. The next stage — which is six to 12 months away — will be wirelessly-enabling its 150 technicians so they can file reports and associated information from service call sites.

The software will run on a Windows-enabled PDA or tablet PC, said Divell. “”Even if you’re just running local service, if you’ve got 100 technicians out there or a 1,000 technicians, how do you manage that? They’ve got schedules in different places at different parts of the day,”” he said. “”What you really want to know is, what’s not going right? Did the technician make it on time?””

By having technicians file reports from on-site, those questions will be answered, said Divell.

When Vector is able to move into wireless access, accounting processes will improve even further, said Peaslee. “”The dispatch will be sent out to the technician, he’ll do the work and it gets downloaded back into our system, saying that the work is completed.””

Faster response times means invoices can be issued more quickly. “”It increases cashflow . . . it just has a snowball effect from there,”” she said.


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