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Case Study: Propeller Industries & DODOcase

September 26, 2011

Chris Fenster and his associates at Propeller Industries Rightrail_Propeller spent years developing a service model to deliver outsourced accounting and financial management expertise to their niche market of early-stage growth companies. By repeatedly building the same systems, they optimized their process so they could concentrate on more strategic, less transactional work—and with the help of Bill.com’s financial platform, they found the most efficient, scalable way to get work done, right when their business was starting to boom.

“Bill.com showed up at exactly the right time in the life of our business,” says Fenster, Propeller Industries’ CEO. By leveraging Bill.com’s technology, which now provides anytime access and automates their tedious client financial processes, the professionals of Propeller Industries now focus on offering strategic consultation designed to drive clients’ success. “Propeller couldn’t be doing what we’re doing without Bill.com.”

Propeller, headquartered in San Francisco with a sister office in New York and offshore accounting partners, found that Bill.com’s cloud-based solution is a natural fit for their multi-location operations. “We really have the most efficient, scalable technology in place to share work amongst ourselves and with our clients,” explains Fenster. The entire company is using the solution, and we control access on a client-to-client basis. Fenster is an enthusiast for the document management piece in particular, noting that “Bill.com takes QuickBooks transaction data and attaches document management, online banking, invoicing and payables in an intelligent way.”

Having experienced terrific success internally with Bill.com, Propeller Industries found capabilities to share with their customers who—due to their stage in the business life cycle—face particular challenges with size and status. “With early startup companies, 80 percent of their accounting involves payables. Bill.com has created a dynamic payables solution that makes our customers look more professional, feel more professional and look bigger than they are.”

Case in point, Propeller Industries introduced Bill.com to DODOcase, a San Francisco-based manufacturer of handmade cases for tablets and e-readers, as a way to manage their accounts payable process. A lean and efficiency-oriented business, DODOcase “immediately recognized Bill.com as a feature-rich accounts payable system that we could access anywhere from our mobile phones, iPads and desktop computers” explains Craig Dalton, president and co-founder of DODOcase.

“Plus,” Dalton continues, “Bill.com serves as a collaboration point between Propeller and DODOcase. Propeller can manage some of the more manual aspects of bill processing for us while the DODOcase team can manage approvals and the actual distribution of payments. The tools Bill.com provide allow all information to trade hands seamlessly and in an organized fashion.” 

Bill.com’s new eBill feature provides another point of collaboration between Propeller Industries and their clients. It has already made an impression on Chris Fenster, who claims it has improved adoption rates, transparency, usability, and has made the platform “stickier” for clients. “If you and your clients are on Bill.com, there’s no need for paper or a PDF invoice. The electronic invoice goes straight to the inbox and enables them to pay. The entire process occurs within Bill.com so we know when the invoice is generated and when the bill is paid.” When two business using Bill.com work together, as several of Propeller Industries’ clients do, their transactions are doubly efficient, require no data entry and cut down on the time it takes to receive payment.

For both Propeller Industries and their Bill.com-initiated clients, the timesavings afforded by Bill.com are significant. “One of the benefits you don’t hear about a lot is on the back-end,” asserts Fenster. “The Bill.com system eliminates the check-clearing and checkbook balancing actions completely.  Bill.com keeps track of the checks that clear and then syncs with QuickBooks and updates the checking account register.” The time saving on bank reconciliations alone is estimated by Fenster to be around 40 percent, this is huge savings for their organization.

The timesaving not only benefits Propeller and their clients’ financial team, but those in the C-Suite as well. Fenster points out that “CEOs don’t like that stack of checks that show up on their desk.” Because Bill.com lets a Controller send a list of payables via Bill.com’s approval process to the CEO, who in turn clicks a button for details or to submit payment. The CEO can do this from anywhere —smart phone, computer, anywhere in world. “It saves a lot of time for a CEO so they can focus on leading the company,” says Fenster. “They could never do that before.”

In working with Bill.com, Fenster has faced “a couple of glitches” but has found support to be incredibly responsive. He recalled one incident in which “there had been a new service, and item numbers didn’t match up, so the issue was articulated to Bill.com team.” They resolved the problem quickly, which “really impressed me.” Fenster continues, “You don’t expect a company to be that nimble—the fix was great and did exactly what we needed it to do.”

Bill.com continues to deliver helpful solutions to Propeller Industries. Chris Fenster and his team, including his DODOcase colleague, Craig Dalton, eagerly await the new features. Dalton says, “We look forward to seeing what Bill.com will be bringing to the table because we really love their financial platform and how it continues to help strengthen and grow our business.”

Download the complete Propeller Industries case study here

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