Customer Q & A: Avero and ChikPea

Customer Q & A: Avero and ChikPea

The ongoing Customer Q & A blog series highlights a wide range of Jitterbit customers to find out what business needs drove their integration requirements and why they made Jitterbit their integration solution of choice. In this post, we’re excited to bring perspectives from a customer (Avero) and partner (ChikPea).

Avero, a provider of big data insights for the hospitality industry, recently replaced an outdated billing system with ChikPea and NetSuite, using Jitterbit to streamline and automate its billing processes.

We spoke with Shad Bien, Corporate Controller at Avero, and Adam Kleinberg, Director of Sales Operations for ChikPea (a Jitterbit partner), about their experience with Jitterbit and what they plan to do next.

What was your billing situation like before Jitterbit and ChikPea?

Shad: We have very complex billing. We work with large restaurants that can have several hundred locations. Within those restaurants, we might run different systems at the bar and at the restaurant, or on the patio. So inside Salesforce, we have a parent-child hierarchy that can go 10-15 levels deep for some customers. It makes for very complex parent-child relationships for billing purposes, and our previous billing system couldn’t handle it. In addition, we had trouble connecting Salesforce, our home for customer data, with NetSuite, our back-office system of record.

To work around our billing and connectivity issues, we had combined custom-coded enhancements to the existing billing solution with a tedious process of manual intervention. It was difficult and time-consuming to operate this system, which still didn’t meet core customer needs or send out invoices reliably. We needed a better alternative, so we looked to integration.

How did you pick Jitterbit as an integration solution?

Shad: We were looking for a new subscription billing solution at the same time and picked ChikPea for two main reasons: it’s 100% native in Salesforce and ChikPea is used to working with the telecommunications industry, which also has very complex hierarchical pricing, just like us. ChikPea was able to get an impressive demo up and running very quickly, which was great.

We then looked at Boomi, Celigo, and Jitterbit for integration to NetSuite, our financial system of record. But after selecting ChikPea as our subscription billing provider, we identified Jitterbit as our best integration option. We liked that Jitterbit was a Salesforce preferred partner and offered an affordable pricing scheme. Plus, ChikPea had worked with Jitterbit before and recommended the platform.

Adam: We were looking to implement the integration within a tight six-week timeline, so we needed a partner we were confident could deliver a working solution on schedule. Having worked with Jitterbit before, we knew that the system was up to the challenge. NetSuite and Salesforce don’t talk cleanly, so we needed a good integration solution to make them communicate. We did look at Celigo’s NetSuite connector, but determined that it would have required additional workarounds and would have not fully integrated both systems. So we went with Jitterbit.

What was the implementation process like?

Adam: In just a few weeks, we used Jitterbit to connect our automated billing solution which included integrating different operations required for subscription management, bill presentment and collections, all native in Salesforce, to NetSuite for dynamic data exchange. Throughout the implementation process, Jitterbit was really responsive to our questions. For a software solution provider like us, fluid communication with a vendor like Jitterbit can mean the difference between our ability to deliver to the customer in the same day and keep a project moving forward, or having to wait days for a response and delay work significantly. Jitterbit’s quick turnaround on requests helped us complete the Avero project on time and under budget.

Shad: Jitterbit provided expert advice regarding how to design our integration during the implementation process. They helped us choose which billing transactions to push to Salesforce, and decide when to create bidirectional integrations between NetSuite and Salesforce. We learned how to handle customer payments and credit memos, and make sure that the right data was pushed from NetSuite – our system of record for accounting – to Salesforce.

Jitterbit showed us that the last thing we would want is for Salesforce to push the wrong financial data to NetSuite, our system of record for accounting. On the flip side, we wouldn’t want NetSuite to send the wrong customer data to Salesforce, either. So we learned to design an integration that makes sure each system of record is in charge of the right data.

What were some of the immediate effects of the integration?

Shad: Jitterbit integrates multiple operations in six key areas: accounts, items, invoices, payments, credit memos, and customer deposits, with four billing operations within each. Now, invoices get automatically integrated and pushed into NetSuite seamlessly. Every transaction is properly completed and logged in the appropriate places. And the invoicing system is now relying on customer data from our CRM, not our accounting system, so it’s much more accurate.

Besides fixing the billing process, it was really about being able to have control. Our previous billing provider used another integration provider and would build necessary integrations one at a time. If there were any updates or if you want to build out and scale your integration, you just couldn’t do it. Or, if NetSuite or Salesforce released a product update that broke the system, you couldn’t fix it on your own. You would have to pay the platform and their integration provider more money to do it for you, every time. You could not iterate.

With Jitterbit we have total control and can change and update integrations on our own. Jitterbit did a great job of working closely with us to design the integration and now we have a scalable integration we know how to expand on our own. We couldn’t do that before, so that’s huge.

How did a controller come to be in charge of a software project?

Shad: I’ve been working on modernizing Avero’s back office since I came to the company. I’m an accounting and finance person by trade but I love technology and I’m pretty tech savvy for a controller. I’ve taken a few courses so I’m familiar with data structure and file structures in NetSuite and Salesforce. It was a big priority for me to have us running 100% in the cloud.

I’m not an integration engineer, not a developer, and not IT, but I was able to work with the Jitterbit team to build an integration at a detailed level, understand how to run the integration, and how to make modifications without engineering help because of the ease of use of the product. I’m the main Jitterbit manager at Avero right now, but I’m training an accounting staff member to help manage the platform and my IT team is interested as well, so we’re thinking of expanding our use.

So what’s next for Avero and ChikPea?

Shad: The biggest thing is being able to grow quickly. Before, we couldn’t even get invoices out on time. Now we are doing it fast and accurately. When we first signed up with our previous billing system, we were pushing 1500 invoices a year. Now with Jitterbit and ChikPea we are pushing 5000 invoices annually, and we’ll continue to grow 30% per year for the next few years. Jitterbit is the integration system that can help us do that.

Thanks for chatting with us, Adam and Shad! For more information about this project, review the Salesforce and NetSuite integration case study.

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