Whitaker Companies

Customer Experience

The challenge of a complex business model which includes multiple locations, fluctuating client demands and a dynamic group of contract and full-time employees.

Since 1983, Whitaker Companies has been one of the nation’s most respected names in professional recruiting providing organizations across the United States with quality contract and direct-hire staffing solutions. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Whitaker serves approximately 600 clients from five locations across the U.S and specializes within three areas of disciplinary focus – healthcare, information technology and engineering/technical professions.

Business Situation

Whitaker must efficiently manage a complex business model which includes multiple locations, fluctuating client demands and a dynamic group of contract and full-time employees. The company has been using Microsoft Dynamics GP since 2000 for financial operations, but in 2011 implemented Avionté staffing software in hopes of achieving an integrated solution with one point of data entry for all human resources, project accounting and payroll operations. After using Avionté for a few months, staff enjoyed the system’s user-friendly interface for data entry and many of the features for the front end of their business such as recruiting, timekeeping and account management. However, they quickly discovered that Avionté lacked many of the back end financial capabilities, tools and reports they needed to support their business model.

A decision was made to move Whitaker’s financial operations back to Microsoft Dynamics GP, but staff wanted to continue using Avionté for all data entry. The challenge was finding a way to leverage the bestfeatures of both systems, without duplicating entry or creating manual tasks to transfer data. Whitaker’s Controller, Stephanie Shantie, called on Columbus to architect a solution. “Columbus has been our partner and advisor for several years. They already know and understand our business and processes, as well as accounting best practices, so there was absolutely no question they were the team we wanted to help us through this project,” said Shantie.

The Solution

Representatives from Columbus, Avionté and Whitaker began conversations to define requirements and discuss options. An ideal solution was designed by Columbus which would utilize eConnect, a collection of tools and components that allow external applications to programmatically interact with Microsoft Dynamics GP. A series of custom “feeds” would be created by Columbus developers to automatically transfer data from Avionté directly into the appropriate areas within Dynamics GP.

The Columbus development team first worked with a programmer from Avionté to properly map Whitaker’s data and ensure consistency between both systems. Several eConnect feeds were then programmed which consistently pull data entered into Avionté and transport it into those fields within Dynamics GP. The feeds run in the background causing no disruption or delays.

Whitaker is successfully using Dynamics GP for GL, AP, project billing, timesheets, payroll, W2 and 1099 processing, bank reconciliation and more with absolutely no duplicate data entry required. In addition, Columbus also created new financial and recruiting reports enabling segmentation by division, location and department. Recruiters have also gained an intricate Gross Margin Report that is affectionately referred to as the “recruiter’s bible” by Whitaker staff.

Proven Results

Columbus has given Whitaker an integrated staffing solution with the single point of entry they were looking for, without sacrificing the powerful Microsoft Dynamics GP financial tools they need. The company is realizing a variety of benefits, including:

  • Connected staffing and financial management with one place to enter all data
  • Automatic transfer of data from Avionté into Microsoft Dynamics GP
  • Simplified access to extended business and financial insight
  • New reporting capabilities with flexibility to setup custom reports in Microsoft FRx
  • Improved productivity, reduced errors and unified information across locations

Columbus was able to think outside the box and give us the best of both worlds. We can now fully leverage our staffing software and Microsoft Dynamics GP together with no duplicate entry or effort.

Stephanie Shantie

Controller, Whitaker Companies