"With our all-US management, the Cloud is a key to our growth

Patrick Charlier - Administrative and Financial Manager, Cutera France

Some companies are launching in Asia from France. Others are doing the same... by setting up in France from abroad. What they all have in common is that they are taking advantage of the facilities offered by the Cloud to enable these developments far from their historical homeland.

Who are Cutera and Cutera France?

Cutera is an American specialist in lasers for medical use, particularly in the fields of dermatology and aesthetics. This is a very specialised and innovative universe, in which only a few companies are positioned and where all practitioners carefully compare the quality of competing products. This closed environment means that there is a strong dynamic to attack new specialities, such as tattoo removal - until now anecdotal - and new national markets. Historically, Cutera relied on resellers to ensure its presence throughout the world. More recently, in France and Japan, the company has decided to create real subsidiaries. The objective is to have an excellent reactivity, a more specialized presence and a strong capacity of adaptation. In France alone, it is necessary to ensure the company's ability to act at no less than 60 professional events each year. Initially created with just one person, Cutera France has grown rapidly and now employs 10 people with varied profiles(1).

What makes you different from other French SMEs?

Cutera's subsidiary strategy is to develop local activities and recruitment. The challenge is not so different from that of French companies that take advantage of their digital evolution to set up internationally. The aim is to be able to support strong growth in activities. In this respect, we are faced with the same constraints as other SMEs: resources, time, equipment, etc. Until I was recruited in November 2013, accounting matters were also assigned to an external firm, as many small French companies do. The main difference for Cutera France is that our links with the US are extremely strong. For example, we do not have a French general manager / subsidiary director, unlike many subsidiaries. Similarly, I report directly to the CFO who is based in Brisbane, California. So we have to combine our day-to-day reality as an SME with the monitoring and expectations of a much larger structure, listed on the Nasdaq since 2004... and distant.

Is this where the Cloud comes in?

With our direct management entirely based in the United States, the Cloud is indeed a key to ensuring our growth. Controlling the development of an activity abroad requires, among other things, permanent and very precise monitoring and reporting. This made outsourcing accounting very difficult.

How have you changed in concrete terms?

I was recruited to take over the administrative, accounting and financial aspects. Our main challenge, always from the perspective of a growing SME, was to move quickly. The pressure to transform our day-to-day operations was very high: we had to take over the accounts and set up our new link with the United States, and the ad-hoc management tool, between January and February 2014. Most of the ERPs did not cover our cost accounting needs accurately enough and others were really too heavy and imposing for our dynamics. The Cloud approach with Microsoft Dynamics NAV provided by Jalix, allowed us to settle the matter in less than a month.

Was an "express" deployment the only issue?

The nature of our management, as an SME with links to California, brought many other issues. First of all, we needed a multilingual approach for our tool, with an automatic "translation" of French accounting specificities into elements that could be taken into account by an American financial director. All this while remaining very simple to use, to support daily monitoring. The tool also had to be able to combine the French chart of accounts with the US GAAP accounts. In this respect, the Cloud challenge was also to be able to overcome the time difference (9 hours with the West Coast of the United States) which usually hinders communication by telephone and e-mail between remote employees. My Controller Europe and Japan can consult NAV in English and get answers during her day.
Finally, in a very pragmatic way for our development, the Cloud frees us from everything related to back-up, servers and maintenance in our premises in Lieusaint (Seine-et-Marne). It's a real facilitator for an SME of our size: our IT staff can devote themselves to more important tasks. The company continued the process by unveiling, a quarter later, a storage and sharing function also in the Cloud.

What about your daily work?

The usage is completely transparent: I have a laptop and just need an internet connection to do my work. This has been a great source of comfort in the months since I arrived, when I often had to work from home as well. Even today, it is easy for me to start my day very early from home, then take my children to school or to the leisure centre, before joining the company. It's a great flexibility for a small company like ours. The person in charge of preparing customer invoices in NAV also has this flexibility through the cloud: urgent customer invoices can be done without being in the office at the same time. All of these advantages appealed to both Cutera US and Cutera France. Our search for software/vendor lasted from mid-November to mid-February, only the month of January had to be processed twice, in the old software of the accounting firm in Paris La Défense and in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, through Jalix. If we had had to do the same, 5 or 10 years ago, without the Cloud, we would have had to do at least twice as much work, extend the implementation time, perhaps work with two software packages in parallel, choose and install a specific server for backups... And between the research and the deployment of the tool itself, I think that at least a year would have passed in the end.

(1) 3 technical profiles, 1 French sales manager, 3 sales representatives, 1 maintenance / sales administration assistant, 1 marketing manager and 1 administrative and financial manager.

Activity: Cutera France is a subsidiary of the specialist in lasers for medical use, Cutera. Created in 1998, it ensures the presence of the worldwide brand on the French market and among dermatology and aesthetic professionals.
Staff: 10 employees
Turnover: €3 million (2013)
Source : Cutera FranceAZURE