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FileMaker 10 helps OSI double growth while cutting costs

Supplier: FileMaker
05 May, 2010

Medical equipment supplier Oncology Services International has grown to be the world's largest independent supplier and service network for refurbished radiation therapy equipment.

Now the world’s largest independent Philip Podmore is no stranger to radiation oncology equipment used for cancer treatment. For years, he worked on site in clinics, installing and maintaining systems as a technician for one of the top manufacturers. In his day-to-day work, he noticed that many clinics were buying new equipment at astronomical prices, when Podmore knew that refurbished equipment would work equally well and could be purchased at a fraction of the cost.

Seeing a tremendous opportunity, his entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. He started his own company, Accelinear Service, to repair and maintain medical equipment. It steadily grew, and Podmore subsequently bought out various smaller companies – including the purchase in 2003 of a company that specialized in refurbishing and selling used equipment.

The resulting company, Oncology Services International (OSI), has become the world’s largest provider of refurbished radiation oncology equipment with a network of service technicians across the United States. In 2008, a private equity group saw the potential and bought OSI with the goal of growing the company even larger.

Business challenge
Podmore ran his initial company, Accelinear Service, on a Mac and FileMaker Pro database software to generate service reports, control inventory, track contacts and manage customer relationships. He used MYOB for accounting, which served him well during the early days when the business was small.

As OSI grew, Podmore realized he needed something more sophisticated for financial accounting, yet he wanted to maintain FileMaker Pro as the basis for other functions like operations and customer relationship management (CRM). "From the beginning, I loved the flexibility and ease of FileMaker Pro. I was looking for something equally customisable and intuitive," says Podmore. "Yet I needed enterprise capabilities."

Any solution would have to include accounting functions and financial reporting. OSI's billing and reporting requirements are specific in ways that most standard accounting packages do not accommodate. Each client is billed according to unique contractual terms. OSI also must quickly obtain service reports from technicians in the field to bill against contract terms. To add to the challenge, Podmore wanted to grow the business in a controlled fashion, without purchasing software modules that would not be implemented immediately.

Podmore and his team found significant drawbacks with the options they first considered. "As part of our due diligence, we bid out our system to SQL and Oracle developers. The lowest quote we got back was $250,000 – and that was before customizations and hardware," he recalls.

Successful solution
Upon more investigation, Podmore discovered the New Millennium Genesis Accounting system, based on FileMaker Pro. At the same time, he found FileMaker Developer Tony Celini of CAB Inc., who, coincidentally, was well versed in accounting solutions and located right down the road.

Podmore and Celini immediately realized the potential benefits of a solution based on both FileMaker Pro and Genesis. The company could integrate operating solutions created in FileMaker Pro with Genesis accounting and exchange information smoothly between the two systems. Best of all, they could develop the overall solution in stages depending on which components would yield the most immediate return on investment for the business.

"Incremental development has helped us automate the right processes at the right time, and eliminate ‘do over’ program development costs," says Celini. "Plus, OSI can spend development dollars when it makes the most sense in terms of business cycles, essentially working on a pay-as-you-go software development plan."

CAB and OSI began by automating core business functions supporting the money making components of the OSI business model – all taking into account unique contractual requirements. New Millennium's easy of integration with standard accounting functions for Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable linked information captured within various FileMaker databases to the proper accounting module within Genesis, eliminating error-prone manual data entry and ensuring up-to-date and properly controlled information in the financial system.

CAB and OSI then implemented WorldSync's SyncDek to service reports capture and parts file management. Now, instead of waiting for hard-copy service reports to be submitted from service engineers scattered from California to Florida – OSI receives billing information via a background process to Filemaker server.

SyncDek automatically captures the information and synchronizes it with the FileMaker databases so that, when it comes to billing time, accurate invoices can be processed, posted to accounting and printed within minutes. The next version of the service report module will take advantage of advanced tab controls in FileMaker Pro 10 software to validate information in report fields to help ensure information accuracy and completeness.

"The flexibility of FileMaker is incredible," says Podmore. "Now, once a service technician logs in to report that a job is complete, the service reports are automatically synched to the main office. The work order is the foundation of how we invoice and manage contracts – so for us, the earlier we receive the information, the better."

Customer benefits
For OSI, the solution based on FileMaker has brought real meaning to the term return on investment. By taking advantage of the efficiencies of FileMaker Pro, the company has grown to 50 field service engineers without adding a single incremental administrative person.

The competitive cost comparisons are impressive as well. "The cost of the FileMaker and Genesis solution, over five years, has been 28 percent less than competitive database solutions, yet the FileMaker sum includes everything – software, hardware and custom development," says Podmore.

With increased visibility into contracts and accounts, the company has achieved additional cost reductions. Savings were realized by cutting our financing costs, reducing our billing cycle from 30 days to less than 1, and reducing our external audit fees.

According to Podmore, what’s priceless is the reliability, credibility and transparency of financial information at OSI and the ability to use it to make competent, informed decisions.

"When the private equity group was analyzing OSI to determine whether or not they wanted to purchase us, we were able to deliver virtually any metric they needed – whether it was unearned revenue or comparisons between scenario A and scenario B," says Podmore.

"They [the investment group analysts] commented that for the size of our company, we wielded technology more successfully than any company they had ever seen – and much of that can be attributed to the flexibility and power of FileMaker Pro."