Ensphere helps AICO fire up its Sage Solution with Sage Line 500 and SalesLogix


Aico are the UK market leader of residential fire and carbon monoxide detectors. A wholly owned subsidiary and sole UK distributor of Ei Electronics, the company operates from a state-of-the-art office and distribution facility in Oswestry and employs 40 staff.

Aico provides a comprehensive sales to aftercare service for its customers who include over 2000 wholesalers. The service provided by Aico encompasses dynamic sales, marketing and technical support on its extensive range of over 200 fire safety products and accessories and en masse distribution to the whole of the UK.

Since the company was founded in 1990 Aico has retained its core values of providing superior products that are reliable and underpinned by training, technical advice, marketing and sales support that is second to none.

Aico is a company that is rightly proud of its products and service, indeed it continues to invest heavily in these areas and constantly seeks to improve and adapt to the changing needs of its customers. Of particular note is in the investment that Aico has recently made in developing a user-friendly brand that includes an extensive range of technical manuals and additional advice that are delivered via the web, phone applications and in printed format. Examples can be found on their company website www.aico.co.uk.

These strong credentials have helped the company experience significant growth in recent years and today it has an annual turnover of £40 million.


Aico prides itself on exceptional levels of customer care and an ultra-efficient distribution service. With a complex product range that is delivered from Ireland and a ‘Just-in-Time’ delivery process that needs to meet the demands of its 2000 wholesale customers, the company’s major challenges relate to continually seeking to improve efficiency for the benefit of its customers.

Aico has run Sage Line500 and SalesLogix for over 10 years. The combined solution has proved incredibly robust; a decade after implementation it has more than stood the test of time. In fact Aico’s biggest IT challenges are self-imposed. The company operates in a proactive manner, actively encouraging all staff to suggest ideas for further improving efficiency. As Rosalyn Morris, Aico’s Finance Manager explains:

“As a company we have an inbuilt ethos that focuses on continually seeking to improve the service that we provide for our customers and seek new ways to improve the way that we operate as a business. We are a close-knit team that supports each other and encourages suggestions from every member of staff. This philosophy works because ultimately our customers gain the greatest benefit.

However, from an IT perspective it means that we are continually seeking to tweak and adapt our core Sage 500 and SalesLogix systems to make them work even harder for us. Often the changes that we identify are small enhancements but they are also generally specific to Aico. That’s why we need a Sage partner who really understands us and our business needs which is why we work so closely with Ensphere.”

The Ensphere Solution

Aico have worked with the Ensphere team for over 10 years, as Rosalyn Morris summarises:

“Fundamental to our longstanding relationship with Ensphere is the fact that they understand our business this has assisted with developing an efficient Sage system.”

Having worked together for so many years Aico’s relationship with Ensphere is seamless and benefits from an inherent understanding that makes continuous improvements hassle free and relatively easy to attain.

Aico’s IT Manager Matthew Lyons-Small explains:

“There are so many examples of how Wayne Nolan and his Ensphere team have helped us to improve the efficiency of our business. We are in constant communication, sharing our thoughts on how we can further adapt the core Sage system taking suggestions and turning them into reality. Often it’s the smallest changes that make the biggest differences though; they can go relatively unnoticed into the business process yet save us considerable amounts of time and money.”

Matthew continues:

“One such example involves the despatch process.  Our warehouse team had to manually key the customer and order information into our Carrier’s database to generate despatch labels, the picking lists were then sent back to our sales office where our sales team had to release the invoices by manually entering the order numbers into our sage system once again, raising on average 150 invoices each day this was a cumbersome and time consuming process.
Having explained the process to Ensphere they developed a bespoke application that sat between Sage and our Carrier’s database.  Now when our order number is entered into the bespoke despatch application a label is generated via our carrier’s database using the information taken from that on the order within Sage, as this is done the order status is automatically is set to despatched and the invoice generated.
A relatively simple change to our process but the difference that it made was amazing. The labels are generated almost instantaneously now, and the invoices are printed in a matter of minutes at the end of each day.  Not having to stop to invoice meant that we were able to extend our despatch hours and our sales team could see what had been despatched in real time by looking at our Sage system. In fact the most time consuming part of the process now is the actual printing of labels/invoices which even Ensphere can’t do anything about! The bespoke application Ensphere have created saves us around 20 seconds per order with approximately 150 orders a day and 22 working days per month that equates to 220 hours a year”

Another bespoke improvement developed by Ensphere focussed on the returns process which has been simplified from 4 stages to just 2, again saving time. Real-time reports have been introduced which show unallocated amounts and any payment discrepancies relating to returned goods.

This process has enabled Aico to react more quickly with account reconciliation, and gain significantly improved visibility of outstanding items. A further 5 staff days per month have been saved with the introduction of this bespoke program from Ensphere.

Further enhancing the core accounting process, Ensphere have also provided Aico with an Override alerting program.

As Rosalyn Morris explains:

“We have strict payment terms that we expect our customers to adhere to. If for any reason they fail to settle invoices on time any further orders they have in the pipeline are automatically placed on hold until the outstanding amount is cleared. However, we also accept that there can be many reasons that our customers payment might not have reached us on time, often they are very easy to resolve with the aid of quick phone call. Therefore, we aim to act as quickly as possible to communicate with any customer when their account is placed on hold.

Traditionally our sales team would have to prepare a report of orders on hold and then send it to our Credit Control team; they would then manually review each account and approve or reject the request to remove the stop.

Working with Ensphere we have now automated that process. Reports are automatically created and constantly present in real-time within Sage as a dashboard view that shows all accounts on hold including those who have exceeded their credit limit. The result is that it enables our Credit Control team to react much more quickly than before and, therefore, often resolve potential issues before they arise.

Furthermore, as a customer is taken off hold the Ensphere program will automatically remove them from the list. As an additional tool to help us improve overdue payments Ensphere have also developed automated overdue payment reminder letters that are issued to customers at different levels of severity of late payment.

These changes have made a real difference significantly improving the way customer accounts are managed which in turn improves cash flow because we can now clear most orders on the same day that they are placed and provide a next day delivery service.”

Another bespoke enhancement developed by Ensphere was to give Aico’s IT Manager the ability to generate his own reports such as payment history profile which now sits on the Sage transaction screen and shows a single view of the customer’s account balance, overdue invoices and credit rating reports.

The Future

Matthew Lyons-Small explains his thoughts on the future:

“Our next major focus will probably be on the use of SalesLogix. As our marketing efforts continue to gain momentum we will be pushing the Customer Relationship Management system harder. Most likely we will be seeking ways of improving data manipulation as well as using it to support the project management to order process.

Rosalyn concludes:

“We have come a long way with Ensphere over the years. With their intrinsic understanding of our business processes and needs we have been able to realise lots of small but significant enhancements to our core Sage systems that have considerably improved efficiency. The relationship between both parties is very strong, we really do consider them to be part of the Aico team.”

“As I see it we tend to generate one new idea a week that will further enhance our business process, we don’t stand still because it’s fundamental to us that we continually strive to find ways of working smarter and preventing retyping. So Ensphere will be kept busy for a while to come yet!”


Matthew Lyons-Small, IT Manager and Rosalyn Morris, Finance Manager, of Aico explains what makes Ensphere different:

Matthew; Ensphere work with me to give me the tools that I need; It means that I can make certain changes without having to bother them but when I need their expert support I know that they’ll react quickly. The relationship between us works really well.”

Rosalyn; Ensphere are always willing to help, they have a ‘yes’ attitude and an understanding of our business. It is because of their knowledge and attitude that we have been able to make a Sage solution that was originally implemented a decade ago, actually work better for us today.”