Entertainment Lighting Services, Inc. (ELS) of Sun Valley, CA, had been using two systems to manage the sales and rental sides of its business. “We were using MAS500 ERP business management software for sales and accounting, and a second solution to handle rentals,” says Todd Richards, CFO of ELS. “The second solution was a package tailored to the rental industry and focused specifically on rental inventory management; however, the two systems could not be integrated together. As we began to grow as a company, this two-system approach became less effective. With more employees and larger operations, the requirement for immediate access to information for all parts of the company became more pressing. So we began looking for a single, integrated solution, and went live with Rental Maestro from Information Integration Group in April.”

The most obvious difference between a rental company and a standard distributor is that with a rental business, in addition to sales inventory, there is equipment that comes back. However, it doesn’t always come back on time, complete, or undamaged, so the ability to schedule rentals based on real-time availability of equipment is imperative. Inventory must be bar-coded down to the asset level, and the company must know where all assets are at any given point in time. In addition, there is the need to schedule trucks and crews, and have up-to-the-minute scheduling information available at the point of order entry.

Information Integration Group, Inc. (IIG) tailors information technology systems to meet their clients’ needs. For the rental industry, the California-based company’s Rental Maestro program integrates seamlessly with Sage Software’s MAS 90 ERP, MAS 200 ERP, and MAS 500 ERP. Rental Maestro is the industry’s first truly integrated rental, production, and sales management system. Many rental packages today are “vertical” solutions, with limited integration to AP, AR, GL, cash management, and financial reporting. Some of the packages allow for AR management within the application, but still do not integrate with the general ledger. The lack of true integration significantly reduces or renders impossible the ability to quickly and easily get from source transaction to the GL. Features that are commonplace in most ERP packages, such as automatic accounts postings and accruals, are rendered useless because the very limited functionality of the vertical solution is used in its place.

ELS’ processes have been streamlined with the completely integrated solution, giving them a single source of information that is easily accessed. A vital function for ELS is Rental Maestro’s inventory tracking. “Rental Maestro features a flexible coding scheme for managing physical counts for both the sales and rental sides of our business. Since inventory is integrated in real time to the accounting module, variances can be monitored and tracked more rapidly, ensuring we have an accurate representation of our assets when orders are placed and greatly reducing inventory shrinkage,” adds Richards.

“Rental Maestro also tightly integrates truck scheduling and labor scheduling. Scheduling labor utilizes a drag-and-drop process, with crewing schedules easily tracked on the ‘Dispatch Board.’ Truck schedules can also be viewed right from order entry in a calendar-based view. Add to that the software’s integrated contact management and simple project management, and Rental Maestro offers everything we need to effectively run our business,” says Richards.

The Business Partner Module offers the standard MAS500 toolset, along with realtime synchronization of company, contact, and address information with both customer and vendor tables. This eliminates the need to retype data and reduces the potential for typing errors. Existing contacts can also be re-associated with a new company without impacting data history and without having to create a new contact.

Rental Maestro also integrates with Microsoft Outlook, saving employees time by eliminating the need to switch between programs. Users can import email in MAS 500 from the personal email folder and code them to projects, orders, invoices, and more, keeping a copy of the email in MAS 500 if they wish. The module provides flexible and robust data queries, and provides ELS with the ability to send emails to contacts directly from the search results, as well as to assign lead sources to individual records and groups of records for contact management purposes.

For project management, all attachments, notes, emails, and any other project-related information can be viewed and accessed from one place. To track job cost and profitability, Rental Maestro rolls up revenue and expenses for products sold, rentals, crew, sub-rentals, and other project expenses. A project’s progress can be tracked over time and alerts can be issued if certain user-defined exceptions occur. Real-time costs allow ELS to make adjustments to cost overruns as they happen. For month-end closing, the information in the system is more accurate, which has helped the company reduce the time involved in the month-end process.

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