The Business Observer, who began working with Extensitech under their previous name, Gulf Coast Business Review (GBR), is the weekly newspaper for business leaders on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Started in 1997 as the Gulf Coast Business Review, the newspaper is the leading provider and most authoritative source of business and economic information affecting the Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay south to Naples. It specializes in reporting on the region’s industry and economic trends; emerging companies; corporate strategies; identifying and profiling the region’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs and top business leaders; and keeping its readers abreast of state, regional and local government actions affecting business and the economy.
When it started, the Review focused solely on Sarasota and Manatee counties. But in October 2001, the Review acquired the 51-year-old Tampa Bay Review and became a regional weekly covering the business scene from Tampa-St. Petersburg to Sarasota. In 2005, the Review expanded again, opening an office in Fort Myers to cover the fast-growing business communities in Lee and Collier counties.
In 2013, the Review changed its name to the Business Observer. Overall, the Business Observer covers an area that encompasses more than 90,000 business establishments. The Business Observer is committed to providing business owners, senior executives, entrepreneurs, investors and public policy makers with the Gulf Coast’s most authoritative and relevant business information.
The Business Observer perspective is unique among Florida media. In its editorial opinions, the Business Observer strongly supports and promotes laissez-faire capitalism and private property rights. In its news content, The Business Observer is written expressly for business owners and managers by a team of experienced journalists.
Business Observer had been using FileMaker for several years, as a data entry filing system, and to produce unique documents. Their main challenge was that their primary file system was broken up into multiple databases, which created many inconsistencies throughout the solution. When the databases failed to function properly, it was extremely difficult to troubleshoot database or software errors. Also, because they had so many versions of the file, it was often difficult for the accounting department and the other departments to have a clear “picture” of the data. Their users would often have multiple files open for viewing at the same time.
The databases also weren’t designed to accommodate the workflow of the legal department and workers were often left finding workarounds or doing tasks manually. Outside departments, such as accounting, were unable to keep abreast of the “pulse” of the business as many of the user’s data was in the files that they could not access, or it was in a file that they did not check.
Business Observer had an immense need for a singular, consistent database, which housed all of their data and was accessible by all users.
Extensitech ‘normalized’ Business Observer’s data and created a more robust, flexible data structure that more closely resembled their business’ data and work flows, and automated their Accounts receivable reporting and aging reports. Extensitech also introduced a robust pricing model that accounts for all of their pricing factors, reducing pricing errors and eliminating the need for end users to attempt to correct prices that may, or may not, have been correct.
“Extensitech aided us in compiling one large cohesive file that is much more streamlined and interactive for our users. Many of the processes were automated, making it easier for the users, and less of a chance for user error. The data being stored in one location made our processes much more efficient for accounting and for the users of the system to be able to find all of the data in one main location.”
In addition, Extensitech introduced many customer configuration tools so that invoicing and payment preferences can be accommodated automatically, eliminating many manual processes, which has been an invaluable time saving asset for Business Observer. By creating a unique interface for the application of payments, because of the extremely high volume of payment they receive, Extensitech was able to help increase employee efficiency of their users.
Extensitech created an automated integration for InDesign users to upload their “Proofs” into the solution so that these images can be displayed dynamically on various printed forms, and based on customer preferences, which has allowed for increase in time efficiency for the users responsible for this workflow process.
“Extensitech was very helpful during the entire process. They paid careful attention to our needs, and knew the correct questions to ask in order to build the best database for our company. Extensitech is great!”