Global Experience Specialists (GES) is an international service provider for live events. GES partners with show organisers, exhibitors and brand marketers to create high-value events and exhibitions, offering a range of services from the design and production of experiences that engage audiences and build brand awareness, to material handling, rigging, electrical and other on-site services.
GES also works with leading brands, film studios and sports marketers to organise national and international promotional tours, large-scale tours, branded installations, PR events and guerrilla marketing. Following the acquisition of a number of businesses, GES were keen to investigate the best, and quickest, way of integrating the financial reporting of the new companies into their existing Sage 1000 solution. They turned to their Sage Business Partner Datel for advice and looked at Fusion SDK, a Datel authored easy-to-use software developer’s toolkit.
GES has produced a number of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) from the Fusion SDK range which enable information transfer between Sage and third party applications. Here, IT Director for GES (EMEA) David Ogier, describes the success of the project.
What drove the purchase of Fusion SDK? What challenges were you facing within the business and what were your objectives?
GES in the UK has been a Sage user since at least 2007. In late 2014 our parent company (Viad) acquired two associated businesses – Blitz Communications, an audio-visual business for outside live events, and N200, a European leader in the event registration and data services market. They had their own order processing and finance systems. Within EMEA, GES (UK) uses Sage 1000 and as part of our plans for 2015 we wanted to standardise on this platform for all aspects of finance and bring the recently acquired businesses onto the same platform. We needed a reliable interface to import/export data between their existing systems and Sage 1000. Blitz was using a combination of R2 and Access Dimensions and N200 was running AccountView. We needed a mechanism on a day to day basis to get Blitz’s sales and purchase invoicing from their Oracle platform into Sage 1000, transparently and as quickly as possible.
Why did you choose the particular solution, and Datel to provide it?
Datel has a broad and in depth knowledge of the Sage platform. They have been an excellent support partner for Sage 1000 at GES so we immediately turned to them for advice.
At the point the project kicked off I knew that the Fusion products existed and asked whether they had a suite of standard APIs we could use. They did with Fusion SDK so we cherry-picked the ones that we wanted. The fact that they had already developed a suite of APIs made the selection very easy, as I really wanted a tried and tested ‘off the shelf’ solution. A single day’s technical consultancy was all it took for our team to be up and running on the integration.
We just wanted something that was going to work, something you don’t really want to be tinkering with. Within GES we have previously developed our own routine to get data from other systems into Sage 1000 so we could have used that but Datel’s was better than ours, much cleaner and faster. And it is scalable too. In terms of acquisitions and integration these sorts of tools are invaluable.
How is it used on a day-to-day basis and by whom?
We purchased a number of APIs: customers, suppliers, sales ledger transactions, purchase transactions, project accounting. These are used across the acquired companies to bring across transactional data and ensure that our customers and suppliers are kept in sync. These are used every day and have provided a seamless integration between some disparate systems.
What business benefits are you seeing?
Rather than replicate the original system, we used the introduction of the Fusion SDK APIs as an opportunity to improve the existing process and we reduced the processing time from one and a half hours to under 10 minutes.
What support has Datel provided along the way?
Due to the wealth of experience that Datel has with Sage 1000, it was very easy for us to go from problem definition to solution. There were no problems at all. A tech guy came down and installed the APIs for us, then there was literally half a day’s consultancy in the afternoon. We have our own developers here so that made it easier. We set up a test environment to prove it was working and there were just a few tweaks. It works really well. For the wider project implementation we bought a number of consultancy days in advance and used a range of Datel expertise from project management through to training and data migration. We successfully migrated the three companies to Sage 1000 in three months, going live one after another.
Do you have any future plans or objectives for the system?
Yes. We have two more migration projects planned for the coming year and a major integration between Salesforce and Sage 1000. Also, we have since bought Fusion Excel Connect for Blitz Communications because they do a lot of Excel based journal entries.