Brian Sims

Knight Systems improves end-to-end workflows thanks to simPRO

WHEN PETER Farnell bought the NSI Gold-accredited security and fire systems design and installation company Knight Systems back in January last year, he knew that he wanted to bring simPRO on board within the first 12 months. The goal? To help the business expand into larger projects, while at the same time maintaining its existing database of loyal customers. 

Two months later, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world. Despite the general uncertainty that came with the emergence of the Coronavirus, Farnell (director at Knight Systems) still wanted to prioritise implementing simPRO in order to streamline maintenance workflows and continue driving recurring revenue from maintenance work, even during the lockdown period.

“The lockdown obviously slowed things down a bit, but we’ve received regular revenue from the maintenance element of the business and our loyal customers have been fantastic,” explained Farnell. He knew that simPRO software was “an absolute certainty” for Knight Systems’ future, regardless of how the COVID-19 environment continued to evolve.

“I first saw simPRO around two years ago when I was with my previous company,” he informed Security Matters. “I immediately fell in love with the solution because it’s a complete workflow system all the way through from the business lead to invoicing and on again to the recurring invoice, converting at each stage.”

Knight Systems already boasted a strong customer base that served as a great foundation for business growth. However, the company was using a server-based system that Farnell referred to as being “unreliable, with very few updates or integrations with other software providers. It was quite clunky and it wasn’t a workflow system,” he said. “It could only generate a few reports that wouldn't even satisfy our governing body and that’s about it. I knew that I wanted to invest in something else, and I knew that would be simPRO.”

With that, the businssed signed up in May last year and Farnell assigned a ‘simPRO champion’ from his team to work with a dedicated simPRO implementation consultant in order to hit the ground running on implementing the software.

Central view of business performance

Despite the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritising the simPRO implementation helped Knight Systems to reach essential goals in what has been such a daunting period for so many companies.

In terms of key goals, Knight Systems needed to monitor margins and costs in more detail, improve the ordering process and enhance stored asset information – particularly so from older sites – when carrying out maintenance visits. The business kick-started the change implementation by transferring a large volume of existing customer information, including customer sites and contacts.

“The biggest challenge for our office team was the customer database and bringing that across,” explained Farnell. “We had a spreadsheet from our previous system containing all of our contacts, and we imported that into simPRO during one of the training sessions.”

The sheer volume of customer data to be imported into the new simPRO database initially seemed an intimidating prospect. However, Farnell found the spreadsheet import template simPRO provided during implementation vital when it came to ensuring that all customer information remained accurate. This helped to set the business up for a successful implementation.

“While we took a bit of time to become accustomed to how that data import works, it’s worked very well,” he explained to Security Matters. “We made sure we that all of the salutations, surnames and first names, contact numbers and e-mail addresses are all in the right place. It’s critical to have all of those fields and boxes correct since communication with customers needs to be right.”

With the support of the dedicated ‘simPRO champion’ and simPRO’s own implementation consultant, Knight Systems met all of its goals for implementation and successfully migrated all customer data. Subsequent to ‘go live’, Farnell’s team gained greater visibility into current and future business performance thanks to simPRO’s reporting features. Indeed, Knight Systems found immense value in the Xero integration and discovered improved forecasting abilities via Maintenance Planner.

Maintenance Planner benefits

“We have 15 to 20 income accounts in Xero,” continued Farnell, “and they all align with the same income accounts in simPRO. I can analyse those areas of the business where we’re doing well, or maybe not doing so well, and also look at margins at each level to see how we’re performing and how might look to improve.”

Maintenance Planner assisted Farnell’s team to set up recurring invoices and recurring jobs in simPRO all at once: a vital piece of the jigsaw that allowed the business to continue to drive the maintenance work that proved so crucial during lockdown. Now, Knight Systems can easily send 100 to 150 monthly recurring invoices and maintain service contracts with customers, while also eliminating wasted time previously spent manually pushing invoices through one at a time.

“Once you enter those recurring invoices initially, you can then forecast a lot better for the year,” enthused Farnell.

Knight Systems completed successful implementation on a remote basis, which itself speaks to the value of close collaboration between the Southport-based business and the implementation team at simPRO.

“The experience with simPRO from sales to implementation was efficient, transparent, understanding to the business, thorough and supportive,” stated Farnell. “The implementation involved migrating over 1,300 customers and over 2,200 contracts. Due to the large number of clients, operations had to continue during implementation. The team reacted well and we received great support from simPRO.”

Word of advice

In conclusion, Farnell explained to Security Matters that making sure the core simPRO features were set up correctly and understanding how the software worked at a basic level helped to set the business up for success.

“simPRO is a very powerful programme,” he affirmed. “You can sometimes become consumed in areas of the build or software that are not applicable to your business right now, but will be in the future as you grow. My advice would be to focus on the functions that you need right now in order to operate your business and then gradually implement the changes, features and benefits that simPRO can bring.”

*Further information on the simPRO Group is available online at

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