A truly “co-operative” roll-out

Orb Communications needed to quickly and cost-effectively roll-out Microsoft Dynamics GP across its member stores.  While the roll out was intended to help stores reconcile more efficiently with Telecom's existing dealer payments system, it also offered a chance to integrate the new financials and point-of-sale systems, and introduce a 'shared services' model.

Orb Communications is a co-operative of over 20 independently-owned telecommunications solutions providers, operating more than 40 stores from Kaitaia to Bluff.  As Premium Telecom Partners, Orb stores offer everything telecommunication-related from mobile phones to PDAs; PABX systems to GPS tools.

Although all member stores hold equal shares in Orb, they operate independently.  This independence can be a two-edged sword: on one hand it ensures Orb customers benefit from a wide range of expertise. Unfortunately, it can also make reconciling and managing financial information across the group difficult.

The Challenge

Orb's earlier business process review had identified a major issue around the way member stores reconciled their day-to-day transactions with Telecom's dealer payments system.  Dayle Kinzett, Orb's Chief Financial Officer, recalls the frustrations of having "multiple business units, using multiple systems and methods for payment processing, across no less than 17 different accounting platforms."  Reconciliations were mostly manual, with all the potential for error that introduced.

The logical solution was to move member stores to the same financials system Telecom used - Microsoft Dynamics GP.  And since the stores were going to implement the new system anyway, Orb wanted to take advantage of Microsoft Dynamics GP's extensibility by both integrating the system with their point-of-sale system, and using it to manage financial information on a group-wide "shared services" basis.
 
The catch was that the roll-out of all this functionality needed to be completed quickly and on a budget too tight for standard implementation methodology to manage.

The Solution

In a standard IT project, the provider generally first installs the solution and then trains any users. If Orb's provider had done this for each of their 24 participating member stores, however, the project cost would have been astronomical.

Instead, Kinzett says, Olympic used their "expertise with other clients on a co-operative business model" to design an innovative 'template-based' project methodology that reduced costs considerably.

"The key," explains Guy Orridge, Orb's Account Manager at Olympic, "was to create the integrations and roll the system out to the first stores, then use this initial roll-out to create implementation templates. Those templates could then be used in the next stores to create a 95% fit to each store's requirements ahead of time."

Implementation

Once the template methodology had been established, Olympic created an intensive training and mentoring programme that would transfer necessary implementation skills through to Orb personnel.  "Orb's willingness to take responsibility for learning how to implement the new system was a key factor in reducing costs," says Orridge.

This meant that once the first stores had been successfully rolled out, trained Orb staff could step in and continue rolling out the system to remaining stores in-house. All of which, according to Kinzett, created a "dramatic saving in costs".

The Results

As at the printing of this case study, Orb had rolled out Microsoft Dynamics GP to 18 of the 24 participating member stores, with a further 6 to complete over the next two months.  And so far, Kinzett reports, the implementations have gone "seamlessly"

"While Olympic's expertise and support was critical in the early stages of the project," he continues, "Orb staff are now highly skilled in the implementation process themselves."

Meanwhile, the integrations are bringing new levels of efficiency to Orb members' day-to-day lives. Financial information that used to take 15 staff nationwide to manage will now take only 7.

Additionally, Orb are making smart use of their new-found access to financial information. "We're looking to set up a benchmarking KPI report that we can share with members immediately," enthuses Kinzett. "Previously, it would have taken us a month just to collect the data!"

Highlights

  • Orb Communications wanted to make reconciling with Telecom's dealer payments system more efficient.
  • Because this would involve rolling out Microsoft Dynamics GP (which Telecom had already integrated with its point-of-sale system) anyway, Orb chose to integrate their new and point-of-sale systems, and offer a group-wide "shared services" model.
  • Project costs were reduced by combining an innovative 'template-based' implementation model with intensive training that enabled Orb users to complete most of the implementations themselves.
  • As well as dramatically reducing project costs; this combination has created impressive efficiencies around accessing and managing financial information across the group.

SUCCESS STORY

Opening Quotes

Olympic used their expertise with other clients on a co-operative business model to design an innovative 'template-based' project methodology that reduced costs considerably.

Closing Quotes

Dayle Kinzett

Chief Financial Officer