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    Alaskan Indie Hames Automates Budgeting, Financials

    Centage’s Budget Maestro provides a robust solution for small businesses

    Hames Corp., which owns and manages several independent grocery stores in both Sitka and Ketchikan, Ala., recently deployed budgeting and forecasting software that was developed specifically for small- and medium-sized businesses.

    The retailer, which outgrew its manual spreadsheet accounting and forecasting, needed a more robust solution that was still aimed at smaller businesses, and found it with the Budget Maestro solution from Natick, Mass.-based Centage Corp.

    “Budgeting was becoming problematic from the standpoint of timeliness, accuracy and frankly relevance,” said Maxwell Rule, CFO, Hames. “It became so cumbersome and difficult and something had to be done to better manage the growth and competitive environment of our business. Our financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting for internal management purposes was not where it needed to be.”

    Using the new solution, the grocer can now seamlessly and periodically import its actuals from Microsoft GP in addition to being able to budget by department at a detailed level. With Budget Maestro, Hames is also now able to produce a cash flow statement and execute cash forecasting automatically as the budget changes, in real time.

    One of the biggest benefits of Budget Maestro, according to the retailer, has been the ability to manage personnel costs, one of Hames’ most significant operating expenses. Budget Maestro can track and analyze all salary-related expenses and provide a level of granularity to help financial leaders gain an understanding of costs by individual employee.

    “The ability to analyze and budget labor and related benefit costs has been invaluable, particularly in light of the unknowns and challenges related to the Affordable Care Act,” said Rule. “We can now accurately budget and monitor our healthcare costs, even down to the specifics of an individual employee’s health plan options.”

    Not only has Budget Maestro made Hames’ budgeting and forecasting process quicker and easier, but it has also resulted in much more sophisticated financial reporting. Hames now has regular reports for balance sheets, cash flows, results from operations and department profitability.

    “Budget Maestro has replaced some of our ‘traditional’ financial reporting,” Rule added. “This new, strategic approach to reporting has made our shareholders, executives and management team very happy and more confident in the long term financial success of our organization.”

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