Steer Davies Gleave

Company Name: Steer Davies Gleave
Company Profile: Steer Davies Gleave is an independent consultancy working worldwide across the transport sector.
Turnover (GBP): 20,000,000
Staff: 300
Software: Resource 32000 by Mondas
Brief: To discuss the user requirements and software capabilities with management.
To discuss the implementatiion of the software world-wide in the five overseas offices
To discuss the implementation of the software company-wide, giving restricted access to account handlers, project managers, project direcrtors and group leaders.
To set up an implementation plan.
To initiate the plan.
To look at administrative systems and their ability to support the input requirements.
Agree improvements to the admin. System and facilitate changes.
To carry out training needs analysis and to initiate training.

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. I was employed as an independent consultant to implement these ideas and identify others. Resource by Mondas is an extremely flexible product that enables organisations like SDG to mould the system to satisfy their own objectives. I looked at four main areas, the first of which was “planning?: SDG follows a disciplined planning process throughout its business and Resource I felt could 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 last area I looked at was how to ensure the system was used by all members of staff.

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 now has on-line 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, were 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 now, they were able to communicate with all branches and access the information on the system they needed immediately.

The managers do not need to keep paper files of their projects. They can access all dead jobs and use the costing information to price and plan similar new jobs. This has increased the margins on all projects

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. We deployed the Resource invoicing module and now “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 my review, I investigated the processes involved in the accounting function and looked for ways to increase efficiency.

I looked at the labour intensive activities and areas where SDG 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 and report exceptions that require further investigation. This demonstrates how we harnessed another key benefit of Resource.

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. This means that errors and omissions can be dealt with immediately and are not left till the project manager is back in the office.

I designed and help implement an in-house work in progress module extracted information from the recourse system and produced work in progress reports to divisional managers, and controlled the profitability of work in progress. This was a job that used to take fifteen days and now takes three days.

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 300 timesheets per week into Resource, now it is all posted automatically.

Some of the time saved was used to manage the Fixed Assets and leases a job that was always left on an as and when basis. Recent experience suggests leases to be a high risk area. I recovered £56,000 for another company after carrying out a lease audit and introduced new systems to help control and monitor overcharges.

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.

The training process
I found that many people within the organisation failed to understand the system and its capabilities. Thus, I analysed the key elements to be used by each grade of staff and wrote a training and induction manual for each. This yielded significant benefits. On the one hand it made people want to use the system more extensively and secondly, it gave them the confidence to give us valuable feedback to develop the system still further.

To summarise, the project has certainly proved its value at SDG and paid for itself many times over.Value added to company:From Arsenal to Zambia, HHA helps SDG profit from its projects…