Resource 32000 Case Study-Steer Davies Gleave (SDG)

From Arsenal to Zambia, Resource 32000 helps SDG profit from its projects…

Steer Davies Gleave (SDG) is an independent consultancy firm working worldwide across the transport sector. It is involved in complex projects from the planning of the new stadium for Arsenal FC, investigating the privatising of a railway for the Governments of Zambia and Tanzania, to monitoring the environmental impact of rock concerts in Ireland. Critical to SDG is the protection of the profitability within each of these projects and hundreds of others (especially its Fixed Price ones). That is where Resource 32000 from Mondas comes in.

When SDG first deployed Resource 32000 in 2000, they “bedded in? the accounting system and explored the many features that would help them capture, control and communicate data more effectively – both within project teams and generally around their organisation. To help them implement these ideas and identify others, they commissioned Henry Hardoon, an independent consultant specialising in Resource 32000 solutions. Henry explains:

“Resource is extremely flexible which enables organisations like SDG to mould the system to satisfy their own objectives. We looked at three main areas, the first of which was “planning?: SDG follows a disciplined planning process throughout its business and Resource would play an enormous role in that. The second and third areas were obvious: where could Resource be used to save more money through increased efficiencies and where it could possibly help to make money too.?

The Planning Process

“Like many companies, SDG needed better information faster, so we extended the Resource 32000 system to their Italian, Spanish, Chilean branches. The impact of this was to bring the entire quarterly reporting process down from three weeks to just five days from the end of the month, giving the senior management team the opportunity to review plans and act that much quicker.

Improvements to the planning process were evident at all levels of the company but particularly at senior and project management. SDG maintain three types of project: proposals; live jobs and internal developments like renovations and improvements. Each one of these projects must be run to forecast plans so Resource was set up to provide detailed project P&L reports for fingertip control throughout a project’s lifecycle. From a market perspective, SDG has a great reputation for delivering projects on time and on budget and, internally, a consistency in delivering projects to profit plans.

Every manager has access to the reports that are relevant to them with full drill-down enquiry capability so they can keep on top of all that they are responsible for, real-time, any time. New reports are often requested by managers and, when created, are immediately added to the menu of standard reports so everyone has the opportunity to add value to the information available and benefit from the ideas of others. No matter where in the world a manager is, they can communicate with all branches and access the information on the system they need immediately.?

Making money

“The structure and control of “projects? within Resource is extremely flexible so with some of the very large assignments like the Merseyside Travel tram network, we broke the main project down into smaller more manageable components …making the profit easier to protect. To maximise the profitability, Resource ensures that every revenue item and cost is being captured correctly so it gives managers the confidence that nothing has been missed and bills have appropriate supporting data.

Billing used to be a complex, manual effort for SDG with a paper-based approval trail. Now we have deployed the Resource invoicing module and “PDF? files of draft invoices are emailed to the Project Managers for approval or amendment by return. Apart from the reduction of invoice queries, the staff that used to spend so much time chasing invoices around the organisation now has more time to spend on credit control. The net effect is accurate invoices are despatched that much quicker with the associated improvements on cash flow, “debtor days? and interest earned.

SDG is a multi-currency operation so Treasury Management is also important to their business. Resource enables them to manage their currencies better, with separate bank accounts and forecasts, and the right information to take advantage of money market opportunities.?

Saving through efficiencies

As part of his review, Henry investigated the processes involved in the accounting function and looked for ways to increase efficiency. He continues:

“We looked at the labour intensive activities and areas where we could improve “service? to clients and other parts of the organisation.

By deploying Resource 32000 in the first place, enormous efficiency gains have been achieved because the system is so simple to use and data can be simply copied and pasted to and from Excel. As with many organisations though, reporting took up a great time of time and so we have created a number of additional “standard? reports within Resource like Project Managers, Directors Summary which take away much of the data collation problem. This demonstrates another key benefit of Resource: once the data is in the system, it is easy to retrieve it in whatever format is needed.

We have already discussed the improvements in emailing the draft billing documents but we felt that an enormous amount of time would be saved in the distribution of reports too. Where previously the Project Managers’ reports were produced individually and physically put into pigeonholes on a weekly basis, we now email “PDF? files and the managers have access to online reports and enquiries.

SDG have also moved from computerised cheques to BACS payments. This has enabled us to do more frequent payment runs with better control over cash flow and a full audit trail of activities.

Another major time saving element was in the integration of our timesheet system with Resource 32000. Previously one member of staff was inputting up to 250 timesheets per week into Resource, now it is all posted automatically.

The time saved, added together, meant that the accounts department had effectively released the capacity of at least one extra person. This has enabled the accounts staff to leave the less interesting “admin? tasks to Resource while they have moved on to more skilled tasks, learning more as they take on new things. This has helped the business and furthered their own individual careers.

To summarise, we would recommend Resource 32000 to any organisation, but particularly those with a project-costing requirement. It has certainly proved its value at SDG and paid for itself many times over.?