You may be one of those drivers inconvenienced by road works on your travels, and looked at your dashboard clock and thought “why can’t these folk in their hi-vis jackets with their cones and lights get a move on and be more efficient” – well you are not alone!
Maximising efficiency in a business operating in a competitive sector, which has customer KPI’s right in the public eye, is a significant challenge for road traffic management companies…… and that is exactly what the team at Contraflow set out to do in 2016.
Founded in 1987, Contraflow delivers effective road traffic management solutions across various industry sectors – from small lane closures, facilitating construction site access, through to major road construction schemes.
Operations are centered around its four Scottish depots, in Cumbernauld, Hillington, Perth and Forres, with a 100-strong workforce. As the first company in Scotland to achieve both Quality Assurance and Sector 12 Scheme approval, Contraflow leads the way for quality and service, which has resulted in steady growth; and increased pressure on back-office and operational efficiency.
Like many businesses, Contraflow focused on customer operations, and used word processing and spreadsheets for administration and accounting, before introducing the Pegasus Opera accounting software to manage finance. Contract management, customer communication and all other aspects relied increasingly on Microsoft Word, Excel, and email – with accompanying levels of manual input and frustration…..
“The lack of an integrated solution meant that it was difficult for us to get a complete view of the business, particularly in terms of invoicing and forecasting future work. This was particularly true on the contracts side of the business, where we had nothing, other than Word and Excel, which were supported by paper-based processes.” Stephen Moran, Commercial Manager, Contraflow
Furthermore, Contraflow found that in tendering for new contracts, they were scoring well in project, price and health and safety policies; but low when it came to criteria which the awarding bodies recognised as reflecting contractor efficiency, visibility and control – such as integrated business systems. And, with the increasing importance of being considered for contracts with Framework agreements in the public sector, and customers like Scottish Gas and Scottish & Southern Energy, the need for improvement was coming to the fore.
This, and the frustration of growing silos of unconnected data, triggered senior management to investigate new improved ways of doing things.
In reviewing processes, there was a focus on the passage of information between different business functions, and the timely availability of key performance metrics, that would help to grow the business. Automation was seen as key to implementation of improvements, and they sought advice from a suitably qualified independent management consultant, recommended by Contraflow’s audit and advisory service provider.
After a business process review and requirement analysis, several ERP solutions had been evaluated and considered, including NetSuite from Cooper Software. The Consultant concluded that NetSuite’s strong financials, integrated workflows and the extensibility for future growth made it the right solution for Contraflow.
With all due diligence completed, Cooper Software was awarded the implementation project and was informed that this was due to a combination of business process understanding, as well as the technical skills to make a success of the implementation for Contraflow. This was further qualified with Contraflow and the consultant having confidence in the depth of service offered through NetSuite Consultants, Project Management, in-house development, and a Support-Desk to help with user issues.
The Cooper Software and Contraflow project team engaged in scoping workshops to define the process and structure an implementation programme. Roles and responsibilities were assigned; data to be migrated was identified; and existing processes were examined in close detail; with all parties working closely, in Business Information Review Workshops.
With the ‘As-is’ and ‘To-be’ firmly established, and documented, detailed demonstrations of how NetSuite would automate these processes were undertaken, to fine-tune the pending solution.
From this, the NetSuite solution design was created and developed and agreed, to achieve the following:
- Implement NetSuite to deliver the functional system requirements of Contraflow.
- Improve visibility of sales opportunities leading to greater sales value.
- Stop billing leaks and improving the process for invoice for hires and work carried out.
- Provide faster information on role specific dashboards, improving the quality of information to management.
Delivering the project
The implementation of NetSuite for Contraflow was delivered in 3 phases over a period of 6 months. Cooper Software project managed alongside the independent consultant, working well to keep the project on schedule and meeting key milestones. The onsite consulting and implementation services were complemented by the configuration efforts of the Cooper Software team, at the head office in Dalgety Bay.
At the end of each phase, on-site training was also provided by Cooper Software to ensure the users had a clear understanding of how the workflows they use are now mirrored in NetSuite.
To support the smooth running of NetSuite, Contraflow engaged Cooper Software’s Managed Service Desk. The service desk’s full time NetSuite specialists solve any support issues, and allow Contraflow users to develop their knowledge, enabling them to be increasingly self-sufficient.
Contraflow Chief Executive, John MacDonald sums it up nicely when he says:
“The big difference for me is that before NetSuite, it took a lot of people a lot of time to tell me what I need to know to run the business as efficiently and effectively as I want to. Now, I have a dashboard to show me key information on Finance, Contracts, Forecasting, even down to the detail of transport costs – which I like to keep a close eye on.”
NetSuite has helped to deliver improved visibility and control across the business. As NetSuite integrates all crucial processes, people in key roles can now see exactly what is happening via their own personalised dashboards, reports, and analytics.
The implementation has also made a big difference to invoicing. This was previously carried out using Excel spreadsheets, with data entered multiple times by different people. Now there is a single point of entry, which has led to time savings and significantly improved month-end invoicing.
Forecasting and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have also benefitted from NetSuite. Contraflow is now able to forecast based on the opportunities managed in CRM by the sales team – replacing minutes taken from sales meetings and updates from the sales team. They can easily see what sectors are spending and what jobs are likely to be coming up. Previously this was all done via manual research.
Contraflow’s customers have also benefited as the solution contains a ‘customer portal’ where they can log in a view all the jobs Contraflow are currently undertaking for them. It allows them to see who their account manager is, how much they have spent as well as invoicing details, giving customers peace of mind and an instant overview of their projects.
Implementing NetSuite improves Contraflow’s chances of winning contracts as their new information systems score highly on the awarding authorities metrics, by having the proper controls in place.
They also take comfort in the knowledge that as Contraflow grows organically or by acquisition, the scalability of NetSuite means they will not have to change systems – simply add users.
Chris Cullen who heads up procurement added: ” NetSuite has been great for my job function, massively streamlining work flow and giving greater transparency and traceability.”
Plans for the future
Now that the core system is established and running successfully, Contraflow can look at developments in their use of Transport Management, CRM and more detailed vehicle and expense tracking.
“By implementing NetSuite we have significantly improved our business systems. It has given us the ability to better identify and streamline our processes and build a tailored solution around exactly what we need. There’s so much more to NetSuite than we are currently utilising and being able to explore what else we are able to do will only bring benefits to the business.” Stephen Moran, Commercial Manager, Contraflow.