- Shipping and freight forwarding
- Topaz Financials
- Topaz EMS
- More efficient internal processes
- Faster, more accurate management reporting
- Reduced costs
- Better cost control
- Enhanced competitive edge
Ecotrans is one of eastern England’s leading shipping and freight forwarding organisations, specialising in direct services to Scandinavia and mainland Europe as well as air freight and deep-sea shipments worldwide. Headquartered in Grimsby, the group offers a comprehensive range of services through six subsidiary companies and has an extensive network of agents in all major countries.
As a locally owned, independent company, Ecotrans faces stiff competition from large international operators. One of the key success factors in the very competitive transport market is the ability to exert tight control over internal costs. To achieve this, Ecotrans recently decided to replace its ageing financial system with a leading-edge solution that would enable it to report more quickly and accurately on its data.
Although it had successfully used the UNIX-based Kismet solution from Topaz for many years, Ecotrans decided to evaluate the market before selecting a replacement. After looking at products from companies such as Sage and Coda, it concluded that the Windows-based solution suite from Topaz provided the best fit for its needs.
"From past experience, we had confidence in Topaz as a supplier of high-quality products. However, the most important single factor in our decision was the partnership between Topaz and FCL. FCL’s freight forwarding solution, Forward Office, is one of our core applications, and the fact that it is integrated with Topaz Financials represents a significant advantage," said Mike Hotchkin, group financial director at Ecotrans.
A challenging implementation
Ecotrans installed the Sales Ledger, Purchase Ledger, Nominal/General Ledger and Cash Book modules of Topaz Financials. It also implemented the Payroll and Personnel Management modules of Topaz EMS. This software runs on a HP ProLiant ML70 server under MS Windows 2000, with a Microsoft SQL Server database. It is integrated with Road Tech’s Roadrunner haulage software as well as with Forward Office. During the implementation project, Ecotrans worked closely with both Topaz and FCL.
According to Hotchkin, the implementation was exceptionally challenging because it involved changing all the nominal codes used by every company within the Ecotrans Group, as well as thousands of account numbers. Another important feature was the need to ensure that the interface between the Windows-based Topaz system and UNIX-based FCL system worked properly. In the event, everything went smoothly.
"The skills and knowledge of the Topaz team played a central role in ensuring a successful implementation," commented Hotchkin. "Topaz also provided us with an excellent training programme."
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