Medical manufacturer picks Saasu for Asian outpost

Arthrocare chose Saasu for its Singapore business.

Runs global business on SAP, but Singapore on Saasu. 

Arthrocare chose Saasu for its Singapore business.In April last year, Arthrocare, a global medical equipment manufacturer headquartered in Texas, USA, was planning to open operations in its fifteenth market, Singapore.

Arthrocare, which makes surgical implants, ran its operations on SAP, the enterprise resource management system. However, the company’s international controller Annika Hedström questioned whether it was worth rolling out SAP in such a small market.

There were two factors; time of implementation and cost. Hedström says she knew from past experience that SAP would cost several hundred thousand dollars and at least three to six months to install.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or large (market)”, the cost is the same, Hedström says. But the main reason was getting started. The commercial department had indicated they wanted to start selling in Singapore and Hedström was involved in setting up the business quickly.

“That’s what I need to see – how much cash do I have at hand, how much cash do we owe our vendors, how much cash do our customers owe us?”

“When we look at (whether to install) SAP or Saasu, it depended on where we are (in the world), what do we want to do, how big is the country, what is the timeline?” Hedström says.

Singapore, a single-currency country, was a relatively simple market. A business that would generate $1.2 million in revenue, Singapore would be far below the $56 million brought in by the top performer, Sweden.

Arthrocare had one finance person in Singapore who came in to do the accounts receivable and payable one day a week. Hedström’s financial team in Sweden looked after account reconciliations and monthly close.

“We needed something where we could have insight into what was going on without travelling to Singapore,” she says.

Hedström “happened to stumble” on Saasu. She found it simple, easy to use, easy to implement and with enough features to cover the business’ needs.

Implementation was “dead easy” and could have been finished within five days except that Hedström was still setting up the company at the time.

Next page: Using Saasu in Singapore from Stockholm

Saasu was set up to administer a $50,000 inventory of implants that were sold to hospitals, clinics and surgeries.

After years of working with complex enterprise finance packages, Hedström finds Saasu very simple to use.

“Saasu is ridiculously simple sometimes. I look at it and say no, it can’t be that simple. I think it’s really good because you don’t have to be that qualified to work in it. They don’t have these predefined opinions about how things would work.”

Hedström’s favourite feature is the dashboard which shows profit and loss, accounts receivable and other critical indicators at a glance.

“The dashboard for me is what I like because I get the information I need from just looking at it.

That’s what I need to see – how much cash do I have at hand, how much cash do we owe our vendors, how much cash do our customers owe us?”

Another drawcard is that the software is online. Hedström can hold conference calls with operations staff in Singapore and they can simultaneously look at sales figures

“We don’t have to share screens or anything, it’s just there,” she says.

Saasu charges one licence per company and allows unlimited users. This was another favourable comparison to enterprise systems such as SAP.

“We pay our yearly fee and if we want to have 10 or 50 users it doesn’t matter. That means I can grant access to my entire team and we don’t have to always think, Ok we’ve got five licences, who can use it?”

Hedström says Saasu would be able to handle a company with $5 million revenue in her line of business, which must operate under strict regulations because it sells medical equipment. The maximum revenue would be higher in a business in a non-regulated industry.

However, Hedström says the limitations are not in revenue size but in the structure and complexity of the business from an accounting perspective.

“I couldn’t run (Arthrocare’s business in) Sweden on Saasu because of the currencies. Say I have a loan in US dollars and I’m in Sweden (where the currency is kronas). Saasu can’t do that.”

Hedström admits that, if she could, it would be better to have all countries on the one system with SAP. Operating two systems requires manual updating. Hedström’s team in Sweden extract balances from Saasu in Singapore, which has the same chart of accounts as the enterprise system.

The finance team need to adjust the currency from Singaporean dollars and make the records conform to US accounting rules.

“If there’s a possibility of integrating (Saasu with ERP) then yes but it’s not something that we need – we have everything that we need. Given that we have access to Saasu from Stockholm, we just transfer the balances not the transactions, we don’t need anything else. We do all the analysis in Saasu.”

About Sholto Macpherson

Sholto Macpherson is a business technology journalist, consultant and analyst specialising in cloud accounting software.

Sholto is the author of the Macpherson Report, which examines the key technology trends facing accountants in Australia.

He lives and works in Sydney, Australia.

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