Alex Loh– Cardinal Healthcare Group, Suffolk, England

Look across the North Sea…

Cardinal Healthcare Group is a family run business in the East of England, which provides healthcare services to the older generations either nursing homes or sending carers to the clients house. I joined the Group as a Finance and IT Manager in 2006 with the remit to improve financial reporting processes and the use of IT.

In England older people can choose public or private healthcare. A proportion of their healthcare is funded by the local Council and the NHS (the National Health Service) –robust financial processes are required to ensure clients are correctly invoiced and that revenue from a variety of sources is collected and accounted for.

As the client base grew, manual processes had to be automated. For the operational side, UK-designed proprietary software applications were deployed which interlinked with existing client record databases and automatically generated invoices – but by 2007 our core financial system (intended for smaller businesses) was no longer fit for purpose. it was prone to bugs and data corruption, support was slow, and the program was unfriendly to use. However, the Group did not have the budget for thousands of pounds to upgrade to finance systems intended for larger businesses, nor the servers required.

I discovered OSF; and after a short test and evaluation period transferred the smaller of our two companies to the system. I was amazed at how much functionality was provided, and how it preserved the good features of older accounting applications (such as being keyboard as well as mouse-based) whilst offering much more flexibility. It is equivalent to some UK software costing £1500 (€1800!).

By 2008 I had all three of our main companies on OSF. Our auditors were impressed with the greater quality of our financial data, and OSF made it much faster to produce monthly management accounts. In 2009, our business expanded further, with the construction now in progress of an even larger nursing home.

Yet more financial data and transactions, and now I have other admin staff to assist me, but they work in a different office. And sometimes I work from home.

So I contacted Domé at OS Financials about using the OSFonline hosted system in the Netherlands.

Within a few weeks we were set up (Domé working very hard to deal with some minor problems and I initially encountered the language barrier of some Windows menus being in Dutch – but these were soon overcome and now both myself and the purchase ledger clerk can input data across sites.

Also, we now import our bank statements and cash transactions directly from the bank files – before they were keyed in manually which took a lot of time!

The system is very reliable, more so than other hosted systems used from England

At present to use OSF requires a UK company to adopt a more “European” approach to business processes – especially dealing with bank reconciliations, lodgement books and reducing use of manual cheques – but for what is gained it is definitely worth it!

Alex – Cardinal Healthcare Group, Suffolk, England.