Pears Chartered Accountants

Pear’s technology infrastructure was struggling to keep up with the demands of the practice’s accountants and their clients. The pace of business was noticeably increasing; clients were demanding information and advice faster than ever.

Pears Chartered Accountants is a mid-sized accounting firm based in Parramatta, Sydney. The firm has a long tradition of serving small and medium sized business clients for over 30 years and prides itself on the longevity of its client relationships. Pears provides a wide range of accounting services to many different industry sectors; particularly in food manufacturing, professional services earthmoving & plant hire, and retailing.

One of Pears Chartered Accountants three directors, Anthony Ciarroni, took a generous slice of his valuable time to discuss the business and particularly their approach to integrating technology in the practice.

Their approach to the use of technology has, in most cases, been proactive. Anthony believes the appropriate use of technology creates efficiency, but not in its own right. Technology must be teamed with strong processes and a team that “get it.” Anthony advocates it’s the effective integration of these three components that really drives the increase in efficiency.

We find when we focus on service, great things start to happen. We start to move away from being simply their accountants and more to becoming their business partner working together for their success.

– Anthony Ciarroni

But it’s what the practice does with the time that they have saved that really counts. The easy option is to pocket the difference in the form of increased margins. However, Pears Chartered Accountants have figured out that the real benefit comes in reinvesting that time in improving levels of service, specifically in spending more time with clients.

Anthony says: “We find when we focus on service, great things start to happen. We start to move away from being simply their accountants and more to becoming their business partner working together for their success.”

On a more practical note, this regularly leads to additional work such as Business Health Checks and benchmarking client’s business vs. industry best practices. Often the dollar spend per client increased as they accessed these additional services.

The Challenge

Their technology infrastructure was struggling to keep up with the demands of the practice’s accountants and their clients. The pace of business was noticeably increasing; clients were demanding information and advice faster than ever. As a result the practice was keen to find a way to go paperless and keep as many client work papers electronically as possible. The team needed to be able to access information, data and files continuously and speedily. In addition the number of computer terminals was increasing and on-site storage of client records was becoming difficult because of space restrictions.

In short, safe, secure storage and rapid access to client data was the primary concern. Additionally, their practice management software; Sage’s Handisoft; needed to be upgraded and the current server would struggle to cope with this new version.

Nothing was particularly  “broken”, the current infrastructure was bearable, but it was causing inefficiencies. The easy option would have been to ignore it and squeeze another year or two from the existing investments.

Anthony concluded they needed to upgrade their server. This was causing the bottleneck. But they also needed a solution that was flexible and could scale with the business.  It was important that any upgrade was seamless. Professional services practices need to continually generate billable hours. A single unproductive day would cost Pears many thousands of dollars.

They also needed an IT partner who had strong technical skills but wasn’t a large faceless IT who would be with them over the long term and not just for the duration of the upgrade project; a firm who understood the needs of SMBs and was a good cultural fit.

The Solution

Anthony is a self confessed “technology geek” and started the research process online, like so many technology buyers these days. He educated himself on current technology infrastructure trends and decided early on that virtualisation looked to be the correct path for Pears to follow.

But it was a big step to go from being an educated buyer to selecting the final system, so  finding a good technology partner with which to work was key to the success of the project. Anthony selected CyberPro as the IT provider. A Sydney based business that works with small and particularly medium sized businesses; CyperPro specialises in providing IT services and support for Accounting practices and other professional services such as Legal practices. After meeting with its Managing Director, Ian Ward, Anthony felt CyberPro understood their business and their technology requirements and would be able to ensure that the technology platform they selected could adapt and grow with the business. They had a flexible support plan that didn’t lock him in to a contract or monthly fees.

Working closely with Anthony, CyberPro designed and specified a virtualization environment consisting of a central server, that is, in fact, three servers in one. This new “super server” dynamically reassigns CPU usage and disk storage therefore increasing overall system performance and optimising storage capacity. The three virtual servers all share and benefit from the high availability features such as mirrored disk arrays,  dual power supplies; all enterprise level technologies that would be expensive if purchasing three separate machines.

The technology was designed and implemented to be as self-manageable as possible allowing Pears staff to carry out simple administrative tasks without requiring support.

We have managed to achieve an enterprise level system in an SMB environment and on an SMB budget! Better still we have future proofed ourselves and we have a technology solution that can grow with our business.

We are very happy with CyberPro. The diagnosis, specification and installation process went really smoothly with minimum disruption to the business. The Cyberpro team is technically strong and really responsive. They continue to provide flexible support, typically remotely, but will happily spend time with us on-site if needed.

– Anthony Ciarroni
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