Bison Helps a Tech-savvy President
Get on Top of His Business Operations

With Dozens of ongoing projects, design firms and creative agencies can use their QuickBooks data for operational efficiency.  “We want to be able to open up QuickBooks and quickly be able to go through everybody’s work, and know what everybody is doing.”

Barry Sims was exasperated.

As the tech savvy president of GDS Design Group, a firm that provides designs and drawings to the commercial fire alarm and access control industries, Barry struggled to stay on top of operations for his growing business. When asked his biggest business challenge, he quickly replied, “It’s trying to get a handle on organization.”

The pain Barry was feeling will be familiar to all business owners:

  • Staying abreast of current projects.
  • Maintaining his profit margins.
  • Getting paid by his clients so that he didn’t have to worry about making payroll.

    GDS Design Group provides designs and drawings to the commercial fire alarm and access control industries.

“If you ask me what QuickBooks is made for, it would be to help people get paid quicker.”

Like many growing businesses, the systems, processes and software that had served him in the beginning no longer provided all of the operational functionality that he needed. At the very beginning, Barry used Excel to track the status of his jobs in what he called his “Backlog Report.”  

“I had this big Excel spreadsheet that would have everything. When you add a new customer, you’d literally insert a row and fill out the information. It was very good in that it did a lot of things…”

However, over time, as he took on more clients and added designers to his team, that report grew unwieldy.

He also used QuickBooks as his accounting solution. Early on he came to realize that his company file contained a wealth of rich, usable data. He tried to manipulate QuickBooks into yielding the data he needed in order to “get paid quicker.” What he discovered is that QuickBooks alone is just not built for that.

“I would pull information from this report and this report and this report, and then merge it into an Excel or some other reporting program, and then sort it. You can get the information, but it’s like, ‘Holy cow that’s a lot of work.’”

Barry needed a better way to extract his data and create the custom reports he needed.


Barry has worked closely with QuickBooks over the years. What he also came to discover is that he is in the minority when it comes to how he uses QuickBooks and what he wants to do with his data. Most organizations see QuickBooks primarily as accounting software. Barry wanted to tap into the operational power of QuickBooks.

Backlog Report = Work Order Tracking

One QuickBooks feature that GDS relies heavily on are Sales Orders, which actually served as work orders. Each one of Barry’s employees had 5 to 15 work orders running at the same time. Barry’s Backlog Report would allow them to see which of their jobs were new, old, in progress, and completed. The report would also tell them the value of each order and the orders from each client. Ideally, he wanted to be able to compare and predict order fulfillment times and historical order quantities. If he could just automate work order tracking, he could save hundreds of work hours and spend that time on more productive pursuits. ‘It is saving me time, which allows me to spend my time on other things.’

“We want to be able to open up QuickBooks and quickly be able to go through everybody’s work, and know what everybody is doing.”

Job Profitability Reports = Higher Margins

Barry also focused on job profitability. He was searching for a simple report that displayed, “Cost of the job minus the hours on the job, multiplied by the employee’s hourly compensation.” And he wanted to be able to sort that by rep and by employee.

Barry was able to create these reports out of his QuickBooks data by pulling them into Excel. However, it took a massive amount of time to do it.

“With that report, I could see which one of my employees are most profitable to me. It’s simple math but you can’t get that out of QuickBooks.”


After realizing that the QuickBooks-Excel tandem just wasn’t going to do it for him, Barry began to look for a third-party solution. Every single piece of data he needed was right there inside of QuickBooks, but it was difficult and time-consuming to extract and organize. Savvy as he is, he evaluated multiple solutions.

There were lots of different programs out there that could pull data from QuickBooks. They were clunky at best, and extremely cumbersome, and extremely expensive.”


Barry Sims struggled to stay on top of operations for his growing business – With the Bison System, he is able to use his QuickBooks data to improve his operational efficiency and ‘get paid quicker.’

 That is when he discovered Bison Analytics.

Bison didn’t only tame QuickBooks and extract the reports that GDS desperately needed, it also enabled them to manipulate that report even further by adding, multiplying, and applying formulas. For the first time, Barry and his team were realizing what Business Intelligence could do for them. There was a wealth of data locked away inside QuickBooks, and for the first time, they were able to unlock it, organize it, and slice and dice through it any way they wanted.


Barry could have considered a full-blown ERP for his business, but he knew an ERP was going to be expensive and complicated. He also knew the data was already there inside of his QuickBooks files. He just needed a simple tool to extract and analyze it. Bison turned out to be the answer to his prayers.


Bison has made it super easy to access individualized data for each customer and arrange it in a format that makes sense. They know they can get any data that their customers ask for without having to spend hours and hours on preparing the report. The result is a modified backlog report.

“A while back though, two or three of my bigger customers, in the same week, asked me the same question, ‘Can you generate this project status report every week?’ I hesitated, then I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I can go through Bison.’

“Later, one of the customers asked, ‘I get the report in PDF format. Can you send it to me in Excel?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah I can, actually, because it does that.’”

With Bison Analytics, GDS have gotten to a point where they have it set up for their customers. They can email customized backlog reports without flinching. That has been a big hit with their customers.

Though the info is coming from QuickBooks, it’s not financial info.


Before GDS started using Bison Analytics, Barry had no way to measure and compare performance right down to the granular level. QuickBooks yielded only high level reports that were impossible to drill down into. For example, Barry was able to create his simple job profitability report that told him the price of each job minus the hours spent on the job.

With Bison Analytics, getting this or any other report was a matter of a few clicks after Bison’s engineers had designed the required module for GDS. Now, Barry can get any data that he needs in order to find out where his profitability is headed and which employees are most profitable.

‘It is saving me time, which allows me to spend my time on other things. It’s also allowing me to have the confidence that what’s going out there is all good, and that if it needs to be changed or edited or whatever, that’s not a problem.”


Bison has lifted the limits that were previously hindering efficient working. Ever since they have realized it’s only data and that QuickBooks is an extremely valuable database, Barry and his team are confident they can run any sort of report with Bison’s help. So, when he dreams up a report that he’d love to see, the answer is yes, Bison can create that.

“Almost anything I can dream up that makes logical sense, if I can write it into a formula, then there’s no doubt I can get it out of Bison. That just gives you a sense of relief.”

Want to know more? Read More Case Studies >>