How Interprovincial Traffic Services quickly learned Sage 300 was a mistake and Spire was the solution

Meet Interprovincial Traffic Services

Since opening its doors in 1973, Interprovincial Traffic Services has provided traffic safety products like LED traffic signals, pavement markings, and controllers. Interprovincial has built a strong reputation offering quality products and solutions to cities, municipalities, and contractors across Western Canada. Delivering quality products of excellent value has contributed to their fantastic customer loyalty. Interprovincial Traffic’s knowledgeable staff are committed to meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Having the proper accounting and business management software in place gives their staff the ability to continue to serve their customers with the gold standard they set forth.  We sat down with Karen Strozek, office manager at Interprovincial Traffic Services, to hear their story of how they came to be a happy Spire client. 

In the beginning

Karen has been with Interprovincial Traffic Services for 27 years as the office manager. In other words, there’s not much she hasn’t done in the company. From accounting to inside sales, you name it, Karen has done it. Karen recalls when they were only three on staff in the early days, which meant everyone had to do a bit of everything. The company was initially using a manual process to manage sales, inventory, and accounting – picture an office with lots of paper, calculators, and filing cabinets. The need for software became apparent, and Interprovincial Traffic Services eventually adopted Abacus (talk about a blast from the past!).  As their needs grew and the times changed, they graduated to BusinessVision, a software that met their inventory management needs and fulfilled their accounting requirements.

With a deep knowledge of the company’s day-to-day operations and challenges, Karen was instrumental in the decision-making process of moving from Abacus to BusinessVision. As many businesses back then were experiencing the need for more modern software, Karen found that BusinessVision addressed all of their needs, successfully making a move. As history tends to do, years later, the need for a new solution repeated itself. It became clear that Interprovincial Traffic Services had grown and needed to modernize yet again. BusinessVision was no longer in active development and no longer provided the functionalities they needed. Karen and her team were experiencing a lack of support from the developer and inadequate inventory functionality – both were bottlenecking their entire process, and customer satisfaction was at risk. “BV wasn’t all that great from tracking customers and linking them to sales, it lacked information on orders, and the workflow process from the start to the end of an order just didn’t exist,” Karen recalls. A mix of manual and software processes with BV meant that streamlined workflow processes did not exist for Karen. With the many hats Karen wears as the office manager, the lack of functionalities like not moving smoothly from one module to another would make Karen’s need to handle minute-by-minute changes a considerable challenge. Not only was Karen’s job being affected, but overall company productivity was delayed. It was time to move.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

Like most of us in a management role, Karen is a very detailed and time-oriented person. Since Karen handles accounting, sales, and payroll, she needed more a more efficient solution; saving time by eliminating manual processes was crucial. The entire team at Interprovincial Traffic Services must be on the same page instead of working in siloed spreadsheets and not staying current on the critical order information. Karen remembers that Sage 300 boasted a modern technology and that some of the reviews she’d read all spoke of Sage 300 being a good upgrade path for BV users. Interprovincial had an accountant who was more familiar with Sage 300 than anything else, and in her trial version of Sage 300, Karen thought she could work with it. Staying in the Sage family also seemed like a secure plan of action. Interprovincial Traffic Systems took the plunge and moved ahead with Sage 300. Karen, although she holds many roles, isn’t the only person in the company. Considering the needs of the rest of her team, she’d been convinced that Sage 300 would provide some crucial elements they were looking for. The president to have an at-a-glance overall view of how they were performing, the sales team to be able to generate quotes on their own, and generally for everyone to share information – all data in one place so that the entire team didn’t have to run back and forth asking each other questions. 

It became clear for Karen and her team almost immediately that Sage 300 had overpromised and under-delivered. Sage 300 was disappointing, and it was a painful discovery after they’d already financially invested and spend the time dedicated to implement new software. Thankfully it had only been a short period with their Sage 300 investment when Karen had realized this wasn’t going to work. Her team did not have the accounting knowledge needed to work in Sage 300 (not everyone who uses the tool needs to understand debits and credits), and they weren’t able to quickly generate queries and reports leaving them highly dependant on a Sage 300 consultant. The support from the Sage team was seriously lacking – as well as expensive when they finally showed up to assist. Ease of use, dedicated support, and seamless integration were also seriously lacking. While this was a painful discovery, Karen and her executive team decided that sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and move on to something that will work. Interprovincial Traffic Services didn’t want to spend more time or money on Sage 300 annual renewals or consulting fees. Had they continued to use Sage 300, they could have found themselves sticking with a solution that would have hindered their growth and cost more than the pretty penny they’d already spent. 

They saw the light 

Having heard of Spire, Karen approached a Spire consulting firm with whom they were already familiar. Thankfully, because the pain of Sage 300 was short-lived, Interprovincial Traffic Services was able to have their BusinessVision data upgraded to Spire seamlessly. This was a huge relief. Although they manage roughly 150 transactions per day, once their historical data was imported into Spire, they quickly caught up on transactions entered while using Sage 300. They’d elected to change over to Spire during their slow time, making the transition easier to manage. It was evident that having BusinessVision data plug into Spire without loss of history was a blessing. The catching-up was done reasonably quickly, and Karen and her team were back on track. It became undeniable then, the nightmare it would have been had they waited any longer to abandon Sage 300. 

Once the transition from Sage 300 to Spire was complete, Karen and her team were elated. They felt a night and day difference. There was more comfort in their work and no longer the anxiety of working and dealing with Sage. Karen remembered that Sage 300 left her feeling like they were just a number, that all that mattered to Sage and her Sage consultant were the revenue dollars. All that did not exist in their new Spire world. Interprovincial’s experience with Spire has been that they are seen and treated as valuable clients. They have contributed their thoughts and suggestions on software improvements, and Karen appreciates that Spire listens. 

Staff was quickly able to adopt Spire regardless of their accounting knowledge. Reports are easy to access, and data is accessible by drilling down from within one module and seeing details within another.  

“I love how Spire handles things and continues to evolve; I like the fact that Spire is always aiming to improve the program. Little things like being in a PO and then being able to open the sales order that relates to it – these little things all save time and Spire listens to what their clients need. I love the fact that they actually listen,” Karen shared. 

In Conclusion

Karen and her team experienced support from their consultants and found Spire was a pleasure to use. This reassured them that they’d made the right decision.  Today, Interprovincial Traffic Systems continues to provide excellent quality products and services to their clients. Karen’s workload keeps her very busy, but she now has the tools that allow her to move fluidly throughout her workday. The entire team is always on the same page and knows exactly what’s going on, from when an order is placed to when it’s received. Interprovincial has saved time on order processing, improved internal communications, empowered their salespeople with the correct quote and order identifying abilities, and ultimately removed roadblocks from each department. They are now able to keep their customers satisfied and adhere to the founding gold standards they put in place from the very beginning.  Interprovincial Traffic Services are happy Spire clients.