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North Star opts for excellent support and happier customers with Orchard Financials

Keen to identify a real financial IT partner, in readiness for fundamental changes to the governing structure of the company, the team at North Star chose to partner with Orchard to help them to update and streamline their financial processes and support them through their company transformations.

North Star’s previous financial processes were clunky and long-winded – invoices were manually coded, authorisation slips needed to be printed and paperwork was physically delivered to budget managers for approval. This was causing problems with teams internally, as well as affecting levels of customer satisfaction.

Additionally, the company was embarking on a refinancing and restructuring project, consolidating the current system of a parent company delivering services to three subsidiaries, to a streamlined, single entity. It was clear to the financial team at North Star that their financial management system needed better support.

An internal survey of the company highlighted that the system needed to be changed and an updated, streamlined financial processing system needed to be implemented to support both the staff and the company’s transformation.

Personalised, dedicated support

For North Star to successfully implement a new system, they needed an engaged IT partner that could support them through the transformation and ensure a smooth implementation process. This led the team at North Star to take a look at what was available in the market.

It was important to the company to retain OpenAccounts as their accounting software, due to its prevalence within the sector and the training already in place within the finance team. However, the team at North Star were aware that there were functionalities within OpenAccounts and eBIS that they weren‘t currently taking advantage of that could streamline their operations and add value for budget managers through access to real time reporting and increased control over their budgets. Orchard’s reputation as the lead partner in the region for annual support and maintenance and their OpenAccounts and eBIS integration was a huge draw.

It is the level of customer service, however, that has been greatly valued by the team:

“I’ve worked with Orchard under other organisations and it’s great to see in the last 12 years nothing’s really changed insofar as the strength of customer service…The support desk are a testament in themselves, they’ve been incredibly responsive and all staff have made themselves available to add to the success of the project.”– Andrew Carlton – Head of Finance, North Star

A smooth implementation

Orchard’s team have worked with North Star to implement a smoother and more streamlined financial management process, including an update to their OpenAccounts system, Version 1 Document Management and eBIS to manage their approval processes.

Despite being managed remotely due to lockdown, the implementation process has generally stuck to timescale, with only one revision of the go live date recommended by the Orchard team to ensure North Star’s system was adequately updated. This was done to make certain that the team at North Star could appropriately test the system without the risk of disrupting the daily operations of the organisation, ensuring they were able to provide a continuity of service to their tenants and service users throughout the process.

North Star have now completed their first phase of implementation, which involved bringing their invoicing operations online through a simple form deployment system. By processing invoices and credit notes through V1 Document Manager and eBIS, processes within the finance department are now smoother, more streamlined and much quicker than before. This means a happier team, and more satisfied customers.

“The process that we had before lockdown was long-winded and the finance department had to code all of the invoices before sending off to the budget managers to approve, whereas with eBIS we’re giving that responsibility over to the budget managers for them to take ownership, so it will prove to be a good system to use.” – Sam McGuckin, Senior Finance Assistant, North Star.

“As is always the way with these things there were one or two teething issues… but the responsiveness of the team, making themselves available and addressing those issues pretty much within a couple of hours gave us functionality of the system. I’d be more than happy to recommend Orchard who have been really engaged in our systems development emerging as a genuine partner to support the implementation of the changes needed for North Star.”– Andrew Carlton – Head of Finance, North Star.

Adding business value

In terms of the big picture, North Star are looking at changing the profile of their finance department from that on an overhead to adding value to the business. Through implementing technologies that can automate the inputting of data into the system, the team can focus more on providing support to budget managers, being more thorough with some areas of budgeting and budget forecasting, and being more granular in the analytics of the organisations finances, with the overall goal of gaining a better understanding of the business as a whole.

The new acquisition of Orchard by MRI software also presents an appealing prospect for North Star, as the integration of the Orchard system with other popular software and applications such as MRI’s Real Asset Management means that more synergy between systems can be achieved and processes can be streamlined across the business.
As North Star continues to transform and develop as a business, working alongside Orchard means that the investment and hard work of the team into improving their operations will be supported every step of the way.

It’s refreshing for me - having made those promises to the team and asked them invest a lot of time and energy into the implementation of the system - that actually this is going to bear fruit not only in terms of new systems functionality but also a more responsive and collaborative partner to provide our annual support and maintenance.


Andrew Carlton - Head of Finance, North Star

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