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App Partner Stories: Supporting a (robotic) bird’s eye view of analytics (literally)


Nov 23, 2022

Xero app partner Projectworks has been working closely with Aerium Analytics, a Calgary-based technology company that uses data automation and analytics to provide geospatial intelligence, inspection, and wildlife management services using aerial drones. 

Aerium is focused on three main products:

  • Foreign Object Debris Detection (FOD)
  • Runway Marking Analysis
  • ‘RoBird’ Wildlife Management

Their star product is RoBird – a model of a female Peregrine falcon that flaps its wings and flies at about 30 kilometres an hour. By mimicking a real Peregrine falcon’s behaviour, RoBird helps to mitigate the impact of bird interactions in industrial settings, and especially airfields.

“We test the drones outside of the city, which is close to the Bow River – a great trout fishing river. There are a number of apex predators like bald eagles who have a habitat in the area. So, while we’re flying the drone in this field, probably five kilometres from the river and filming using a FPV (first-person view) drone. All of a sudden, these talons come onto the screen because an eagle recognised a threat and attacked our drone,” said Jeff Beeston, CFO of Aerium Analytics.

Jeff is a chartered professional accountant and has held multiple positions in financial departments, managing tax, treasury, and financial reporting. He was also a CEO for 15 years before joining Aerium Analytics. 

From paper to robots

Jeff joined Aerium at an exciting time when the business was experiencing huge growth, but when he arrived he quickly found a number of key challenges:

  • There was no appropriate accounting system in place.
  • New, large multinational clients had strict and detailed invoicing requirements that their current infrastructure just couldn’t provide.
  • Aerium was also having a lot of trouble getting their staff and contractors to fill out their timesheets.

In previous roles, Jeff had teams of 20+ accountants supporting him. Now, Jeff only had two people in his team, and he was spending days capturing data for large clients. This was unsustainable. He needed to quickly build a system that would help Aerium meet those needs and better manage their business.

To get some help, Jeff approached PwC for their advice on what tools would help Aerium and fit their unique needs.

Finding the right tools for the right job

PwC identified that Projectworks, together with Xero, would give Aerium the power to manage large projects professionally. Using these new systems, AERIUM’s level of sophistication and flexibility allows them to manage large multinational clients and meet their strict and detailed invoicing requirements. Jeff now gets time back to focus on the larger financial picture. 

“Last month, I got my invoicing done in a day. That used to be a two-week process of collecting hours and modifying data. Handling invoices this way, I can collect data, run a couple of reports, get it reviewed, get it onto an invoice, get that reviewed, and we’re out the door,” says Jeff.

Since the transition to Projectworks’ user-friendly, straightforward timesheet system, Jeff has seen Aerium’s employee compliance and engagement dramatically increase, while timesheet and expenses issues have dissipated. 

“From the operational perspective, my employee engagement and compliance is excellent. Training and onboarding people to use Projectworks for billable hour tracking has been virtually painless. It was so easy to do, and I rarely spend time chasing anybody other than supervisors to make sure that they’ve actually approved the hours that people have put in,” explains Jeff.

Aerium has also been able to tighten up their revenue cycles, which has sped up accounts receivable collections.

“The faster I can get my invoice out accurately, the faster we get paid. When you’re managing cash, that’s massive for a small company.”

The sky really is the limit

Jeff and his team at Aerium are delighted with the ease and time saved through their new digital suite as their business continues to grow.

“We’re constantly changing, and we seem to be gravitating towards organisations that feel like home”.

Aerium has big expansion plans and is prepared to take flight anywhere. Right now, they hope to bring their tools and expertise to Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand) soon.                         

Kiwi company Projectworks is a business management platform designed to help professional & creative services businesses better manage their organisations in the areas of project management, project financials, and people management. 

Check out Projectworks on the Xero App Store here.

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