Kentstone Properties plc is one of the oldest property portfolio companies in England - it was first registered in 1862 It is privately owned by over 270 member shareholders and is run day to day by an office administrator, Angela Bird, supported by the Chairman Tim Monkton.
Tim Monkton Angela Bird
The company's portfolio is now valued at over £21 million with approximately 144 commercial and residential properties mainly in the South of England.
Nicky Brightling is a chartered accountant, in sole practise
trading as Brightling & Co., who produces the quarterly
management accounts and VAT figures for Kentstone.
she qualified with Coopers & Lybrand, before moving to
Ernst & Young's Employer Services department in the City.
Returning to Kent she joined a local firm, Chavereys,
where she was first introduced to Landmark software.
Chavereys gave Brightling the chance to experience
the benefits of using Landmark software in diverse business situations.
Today, she has clients like Kentstone using the original KEY32 Accounts products and others who have upgraded to KEYPrime, Landmark's latest software range.
She says: "Landmark is continuing to move with the times and keep the product up to date with new technology. The advantages of KEYPrime include more sophisticated drill down facility within reports and the different levels of secure user access within a networked system as increasingly people work from home."
Brighling is reliant on Angie Bird to produce relevant reports as well as the day to day data inputting and transactions at Kentstone, and she says: "It runs like clockwork. The KEY Accounts reporting functionality allows timely management accounting figures to be produced for myself and the directors. Over the years I have learnt a lot about the flexibility of the report functions of KEY Accounts and what can be produced for different management styles."
Angie Bird says she prefers the KEY programs to more general products on the market. "We enjoy the flexibility and the functions such as the export facility which sends selected figures direct to Excel," she says.
In 2003 when the Directors of Kentstone Properties reviewed their manual accounting, auditor and management systems, they agreed that computerisation would speed up the process. Brightling had no hesitation in including Landmark in the selection process as she was confident that Landmark's software would be a stronger contender, especially with its ability to deal with partial exemption VAT.
"Custom Reports is an extra module from Landmark that can change the existing groupings of a standard report in order to provide total control over report groupings and layout. This little tool has improved the efficiency of my time. The board likes the quarterly management reports to be presented in a certain way and I have been able to choose the layout and criteria in Custom Reports to replicate the exact format and add them to a 'Custom Library' to run automatically each time," she says.
Brightling explains her choice of software: "I have confidence using the KEY and KEYPrime programs and so do my colleagues within the Brightling & Co. office. If appropriate I always strongly recommend that clients talk to Landmark if they are looking to change a system or to upgrade their current software.
"I have not come across any other property software that rivals KEY. If I have problems I always telephone the Landmark support team who are able to talk through any queries that we
may have. "
Asked for her advice to other property companies looking at improving their management software Brightling concludes: "Talk to other people about their accounting and property systems, about their likes and dislikes. Always run a new system alongside your existing one to get to know the new program and most of all check the provision of support. Good support is invaluable, particularly if like me you are using different programs in different locations, if you have forgotten how to do something don't struggle along in the office - use the support which you have paid for."