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Beefing up business capabilities with NetSuite
"NetSuite is a breath of fresh air. It’s so flexible. We can do whatever we want, it’s invaluable to us."CHRIS TAYLOR, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, AMPC
The red meat sector makes up the largest food product manufacturing industry in Australia. It employs 135,000 people and contributes over $23 billion annually to the country’s GDP, including over $13 billion in exports to 124 countries.
The Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) provides active support to this essential industry. The non-profit organisation develops research, development and extension programs that improve sustainability and efficiency. The programs are aligned to targeted marketing initiatives and focus on delivering positive business outcomes to AMPC’s 105 members.
An on-the-go industry
AMPC members operate across 133 meat processing plants, mainly located in the eastern states of QLD, NSW and VIC. AMPC program managers are constantly on the go. They engage with members to understand their business and industry priorities, then develop and administer research and development projects to address their needs.
Up until 2015, AMPC used MYOB as their financial solution, and largely relied on Excel to manage member data and projects. Program managers working in the field collected customer data and stored it on their individual laptops. Of course, this meant there was no real-time, remote access to shared customer records, which made it tough to report on or consolidate valuable data across the organisation. Preparing even simple reports was a time-intensive and tedious job.
AMPC tried to improve the situation by installing Omni project software. However, the charges incurred for even small changes to the solution proved prohibitive for the cost-sensitive organisation, and AMPC was forced to abandon it and return to their Excel spreadsheets.
AMPC wanted a new business solution to consolidate, simplify and move the organisation forward. As a non-profit organisation with a team of just 15, they needed to do this in a way they could afford. The business requirement was for a ready-integrated solution with financial, payroll, CRM and project management capabilities.
“NetSuite was a natural choice when they considered cost, functionality and flexibility”, says Chris Taylor, CFO for AMPC.
“NetSuite offers a nice balance for us between the MYOB-type solutions and the big ERPs which are simply out of our price range, and overly complex. NetSuite is affordable and provides us with all the wonderful project management tools we need to run contracts through the system. It’s also flexible enough to allow us to collect, hold and report on our data while meeting the changing reporting and compliance requirements of government and other stakeholders. By comparison, a solution like MYOB is designed to hold very limited non-financial data, making it impossible for us to use it and report anything of value.”
Taylor says NetSuite was a game-changer for the organisation.
“NetSuite has an amazing way of integrating the modules in the system. We use the in-built workflow to lodge research proposals directly into the customer centre in NetSuite, so we can review all the information in one place. If we think it’s a good idea, we convert the proposal into a contract and a live project. Once the project milestones are reached, the costs are automatically accrued in the financial system and then invoiced. And I can put on my auditor’s hat and understand what’s driving the financials behind each project. I can see the flow all the way back through contracts and projects, right to the research proposals that were lodged through the easy-to-use portal. That was a massive selling point for me.”
AMPC’s program managers report on project milestones and check whether they’re on track or running behind. They found using NetSuite to streamline and automate the process quick to learn and easy to use.
With all AMPC stakeholder information moved into NetSuite’s CRM module the marketing team happily embraced having just one source of accurate marketing data. Taylor says that having the ability to instantly update contact information throughout the entire system has helped the organisation take an enormous step forward.
The AMPC team now record details of their meetings directly into in the CRM, and integration to Outlook eases the process by efficiently saving emails to NetSuite’s contact, customer and project records. A change in the membership team no longer means a painful collation and handover of member information – it’s always current and in one place.
Taking a customer-centric view
“Everything we do has the single objective of satisfying our members,” says Taylor. “Our program managers love the mobility aspect of NetSuite. They can access member and project data wherever they are. They can solve problems on the spot by accessing the wealth of valuable information we’ve developed over the years, instead of saying ‘let me get back to you.’ So that adds a lot of value to the member relationship.”
The joys of mobility
Moving from an onsite version of MYOB to cloud-based NetSuite allows Taylor to access information without returning to his desk. “If I’m in a board meeting, and a Director asks a particularly curly question, it’s easy to bring up the relevant information on-screen and resolve the issue, right there and then.”
AMPC is also in the process of rolling out an integration with Box, which will allow the team to access project documentation on the road via NetSuite, without needing to connect with the company’s servers.
“We use NetSuite to manage business travel. When someone enters a travel request, I can view and approve it online – no matter where I am,” says Taylor. “As soon as I give it the OK, it’s automatically sent to our travel agent to make the booking.”
Taylor says that NetSuite’s employee expense report function is also a huge hit with the AMPC team. “Instead of doing old-style paper reports which need to be signed and scanned, staff can just take a photo of the receipts and lodge their expense claim through their smartphones. I think our people are happy with the expedited approach to getting their expenses paid!”
An upcoming office shift is heralding a move to a VoIP (voice over IP) phone system. Calls will be initiated from NetSuite through click-to-dial functionality, and employees will be able to record details of their conversations with members, research providers and other stakeholders against the appropriate contact record in NetSuite.
A breath of fresh air
Taylor comes from a mining background where he used complex Tier 1 ERPs. “After working with solutions that require investment in the millions, and where even the cost of creating a report was staggering, NetSuite is a breath of fresh air. It’s so flexible. We can do whatever we want, it’s invaluable to us.”
Lisa Maday, AMPC’s NetSuite champion, is also a big fan of NetSuite’s flexibility. She’s delighted with the range of tools Fusion5 developed which allow AMPC to customise the solution without coding, complex workflows - or adding consultancy costs.
“Thanks to Fusion5 we can add new fields in NetSuite and create a lot of complex reports for ourselves. We often have meetings that we need to track, or staff request additional fields to capture more data. Being able to do this internally is so valuable for us. I can get a lot more done without having to call Fusion5 for help.”
The relationship between Fusion5 and AMPC has been close. “They’ve been great,” says Maday. “Their team is very patient with us and understands our relatively complex requirements. And when we need involved development work, they send someone over to our office, so we can work through the issue together. That’s hugely beneficial.”
Integration wins the day
Taylor and Maday agree that the biggest benefit to AMPC is NetSuite’s integrated product suite. “Before, I had to manually combine information from all these disparate, non-integrated systems to generate a complete report. It was the bane of my existence,” says Taylor. “Now, being able to quickly understand a financial transaction, and correlating the other pieces of information relating to it, is a life-saver for us.”
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