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Best Software Brings Winds of Change To MOSI

Special Advertisement: Best helped Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry reduce payroll from nearly three days to just one and a half days.

September 1, 2001
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Have you ever heard the roaring winds from a Category 1 hurricane? This is oneof many interactive experiences available to the public at Tampa's Museum of Science& Industry, nicknamed "MOSI."

    Opened in 1982, MOSI is now one of the most popular educational destinationsin the Southeast, with some of the most innovative, hands-on exhibits in thecountry. Opening within the next 12 months, "Disasterville" will exposeits audience to the structural design elements used in architecting buildingsand houses to withstand nature's most powerful forces, such as hurricanes, tornadoesand earthquakes.

Bringing It All Under One Umbrella
    MOSI includes an IMAX Dome theater, a gift shop and 25 separate support divisions,such as operations, food and beverage, finance, marketing and janitorial, amongothers. Earlier this year, MOSI itself was near disaster - using an online payrollsystem that couldn't integrate efficiently with its general ledger, renderingthem unable to accurately forecast, budget and project payroll. As a result,the accounting and payroll departments had to manually re-key salary, taxesand benefits information from each of its departments each month back into acentralized payroll and general ledger component.

    Since each department conceptually operates as an individual business - eachwith their own P&L statements, benefits package, salaried workforce andbudget allocations - the museum needed the ability to estimate costs by functionalarea to assess departmental profitability.

    "I wouldn't necessarily say we were in the middle of a disaster,"said CFO Jeanette Baker. "But, we were definitely beginning to feel therumbling of trouble. We needed to have a much more flexible and powerful budgetingand reporting tool."

    While MOSI's previous payroll system did enable online payroll processing, itwas delivered through an application service provider (ASP), which limited functionalitycustomizations such as detailed or ad hoc reporting capabilities.

    "Most of our reports were canned templates that could not be customized,"said Baker. "We needed a system that enabled our department heads to managetheir profitability and, at the same time, allowed our corporate executivesto see the holistic financial picture."

    The museum also employs a large number of temporary and seasonal workers tohelp address fluctuations and peak visitation periods. With this influx of temporaryworkers, MOSI needed the ability to process on-demand checks between pay cycles.Its former payroll system just didn't allow that functionality.

    In addition to integration and reporting flexibility, MOSI also needed to processpayroll more quickly. This simply was not possible with a remotely hosted solutionthat required MOSI to send ACH transfer requests through an Internet serviceprovider (ISP), which would then authorize the transaction - often several hoursafter the initial request.

    "It just became too frustrating because we realized that there had tobe a better system - and one that solved all of our needs," said PaulaBorrer, payroll processor for MOSI.

    So, in February 2001, MOSI set off to find an alternative.

Calming the Storm
    After conducting due diligence and speaking with three different solution providers,Baker and her staff turned to the Tampa-based Caisson Group, a reseller of businessmanagement solutions that offered BestSoftware's Abra Suite, an award-winning HR and payroll solution for mid-sizedcompanies. Industry software veterans, Sergio Mendez and Sue Erickson, headup the Caisson Group.

    Already familiar with Mendez's IT experience and Erickson's payroll knowledgefrom their success with other Tampa-based clients, MOSI approached the firmto help bridge its payroll and general ledger systems and add a much neededdose of enterprise-wide flexibility and feature customization.

    "The entire process was so smooth," said Baker. "Caisson Groupknew their stuff. They knew our business, they knew Abra's functionality andthey knew how to combine the two to make what we feel is just a fantastic solution."

Clear Skies Ahead
    Today, Abra has been fully implemented for several paycycles and MOSI has already realized significant returns on its investment.

    "Running a payroll cycle used to take nearly three days to complete withour previous system," said Borrer. "Abra's ability to integrate withour general ledger and collect and allocate budgeting and financial data fromour various departments has reduced this process to just one and a half days."

    The payroll department formerly spent more than eight hours entering and manuallyverifying timecard information using a basic Internet connection and standardreports that were unable to sort by employee name. Now the data can be entered,sorted, and verified in just three hours.

    "Abra Payroll is the complete solution," said Baker. "With theclick of a button, my team can process payroll and generate the reports I needfor our executive board. Now, I have the time to devote to other larger strategicissues at hand, and they have the reports and analysis to ensure MOSI remainsa profitable and successful organization."

    MOSI's future plans include implementing Best's Abra HR module for additionalintegration within the organization's overall business management system. AbraHR will enable MOSI to better analyze its staff productivity and increase itshiring, training and retention levels.

    "Abra Payroll really rescued us," said Borrer.

    Now, if Best and Abra could only develop a system to forecast hurricanes- that would definitely be a feature attraction.

    Learn how Abra Payroll can streamline your business and improve yourbottom line! Visit and priority code Q6AAA for more information on the many ROI and business benefitsAbra Payroll can bring to you, your management team and the entire organization.

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