Bennett’s Business Systems buys in to Salesforce.com

Company opts to outsource financial and sales applications

Bennett’s Business Systems provides and services imaging equipment, such as copiers, to other businesses. It took a bet that it could get a leap in sales by moving from a small-business IT operation to an enterprise-class one. CEO and CIO Wes Benwick was unhappy with the proprietary OMD accounting package (a Cobol program recently ported to Windows) widely used in the copier/printer industry and was concerned about diminishing availability of integration tools and experts to tie them into other systems. Moreover, Bennett’s had already tried to build its own telesales-management application, but it didn’t scale past three users.

So Benwick decided to outsource his financial and sales applications to Salesforce.com, which would instantly provide an enterprise architecture and let his staff of four developers and three support technicians focus on aiding the 25 sales staff members directly, including custom development within Salesforce.com’s applications and of MySQL database queries and reports. Benwick says sales rose 46 percent in the year after the company moved to enterprise-level tools, even though the size of the sale staff didn’t change. Sales had been consistent at the lower levels for at least five years, he notes. However, IT staff has grown from two to five as Benwick has added more developers to work on tools and reports for the sales staff.

But the IT support staff has stayed at one person. “We don’t believe our expertise is in managing hardware,” so it was easy to rely on someone else to host its systems. Initially, Benwick used a Microsoft Exchange server to manage e-mail, but quickly outsourced that, as well as the spam filtering, which runs on an on-site server administered by another company.

 “Administering it is a major pain in the butt,” especially for a company with fewer than 100 employees, Benwick says. In the same vein, Benwick outsourced the company’s datacenter and e-commerce site, both of which reside at the provider.

“I’m hoping I never have to own my own no matter how big I get,” Benwick says.

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