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Opportunities for low-cost accounting

Engineering News, March 1995


Engineers and manufacturers naturally resent investment in administrative overhead. Yet there are signs that the falling cost of computer capacity and the ease with which it can be implemented now presents considerable low cost opportunities.


A relatively little-known yet highly diversified engineer/manufacturer/distributor is the Hirstlens organisation of Auckland.



The company’s use of the Sage accounting package demonstrates how such an organisation can make the most of such a low cost approach.


The experience of diversified manufacturer and distributor Hirstlens New Zealand Ltd of Auckland demonstrates that a single proven low-cost financial package can in fact handle the entire IT business of quite a large scale organisation.


Hirstlens uses the Sage Sterling Financial Controller package, and this package handles everything that Hirstlens requires from its information technology and even more significantly, all the processing is accomplished through a single stand-along 286 personal computer.


According to Hirstlens Managing Director Ian Handricks, the company has sent out over 200,000 invoices and only once has someone had to contact the supplier, Solution 6, for assistance.


“Using a CNC lathe to cut a contact lens at Hirstlens. The company uses a single financial package to handle their entire IT business.”

Hirstlens is New Zealand’s only manufacturer of contact lenses and is, interestingly enough, the world’s oldest established firm to have continuously produced contact lenses.


The company is also involved in distribution of digital imaging systems, and also in digital music systems. Another division handles the distribution of toys and leisure equipment.


The Sage Financial Controller has a deep reach into inventory management, notes Mr Handricks, and this includes part assemblies, an important element in manufacture.


Aside from such basic functions as handling creditors and debtors, along with General Ledger and purchase and sales order processing, the package also produces trial balances. Mr Handricks believes that one of the secrets of the Sage package is its concentration on core requirements. He also notes the way in which it can produce financial details with non-specialist staff.


Hirstlens employs no accountants and the system is run by administrative staff.


Also, recalls Mr Handricks, there was no prolonged implementation period. :We just got straight into using it".


The system must handle over 500 different suppliers to Hirstlens, along with several thousand stock items. The system also handles assets.


According to Mr Handricks, his company settled on the Sage system after an extensive survey of all other application packages on the market.


"The fact that we have only had to contact Solution 6 once shows how useful and easy to use this package has been for us", he said.


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