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.
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
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.
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
"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
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".
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
"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!"
- 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
- As well as dramatically reducing project costs; this
combination has created impressive efficiencies around accessing
and managing financial information across the group.