With centralised, real-time information, Babcock has developed a new focus with the implementation of IFS Applications. It achieved this by standardising its business operations and solving issues related to finance, project management, procurement and the supply chain, while supporting business growth.
Legacy system was labour-intensive, disparate, outdated
“The number of silo databases used in managing the business functions was surprising,” said Mark McLaren, Programme Manager, Babcock (Australia). Babcock was using a mixture of disparate MS Excel and Access databases to manage business operations for finance, project management, engineering, procurement, supply chain, service, maintenance and contract management. The databases were at their functional limit and were constantly requiring maintenance and updating to cope with the business demands.
“The silo databases required manual duplication of data entry, which was prone to mistakes. They were also limited in terms of functionality and flexibility, coupled with not being scalable to meet our future business growth objectives,” said McLaren.
“Furthermore, the information was not in real-time, often being anywhere from a week to a month outdated, which could result in delayed decision-making. Our Perth office was working independently on a duplication of the databases from Adelaide, and we consistently had to reconcile financial information between the UK head office systems and Australia, which was both labour-intensive and inefficient.”
It was apparent to the team at Babcock that to meet their forecasted growth expectations, they needed an integrated solution to support the business and its team.
Foundation for growth
Operating out of two locations in Australia – Adelaide and Perth – as well as integrating with the UK head office, Babcock required an integrated and centralised enterprise management system that was consistent with Babcock globally.
Another important requirement was the ability to manage all of the complex business processes in real-time, and provide visibility to the team. After exploring the alternatives, Babcock selected IFS based on other successful Babcock IFS implementations in Rosyth and Devonport (UK) and Canada. This provided extensive knowledge and experience in implementing IFS into the defence arena.
The implementation was a multi-phased approach that enabled Babcock to start seeing results immediately, as well as reduce operational risk. The first phase of the implementation was on financials, reporting, procurement, contract management and project management.
“The phased approach allowed us to see immediate payback with full visibility in real-time into the key departments' day-to-day operations, such as our procurement, project management and finance departments,” said Gail Fitzpatrick, ERP Business Analyst, Babcock. “Furthermore, it allowed us to avoid exposing the whole business to a new system. Training and education for staff was incremental, therefore minimising the risk and impact of change management issues.”
The second phase of the implementation was focused on engineering and maintenance, which is now streamlining processes across various departments. “Having departments interconnected in real-time, utilising the rich functionality in IFS Applications has given our staff far greater scope than previously experienced,” said Fitzpatrick.
“IFS Applications now enables us to break down projects and activity into tasks, allocate resources and identify where they are attributed to. Therefore, each person and department is now more accountable for every stage of the life cycle, and most importantly, the outcomes for each project and subsequent milestone. Furthermore, I would say the new system has improved our accuracy greatly, automated many of our processes and reduced the unnecessary duplication of efforts between Perth and Adelaide, the UK and Australia, ultimately reducing risk, eliminating the chance of errors and improving efficiency.”
With the implementation of IFS Applications, Babcock now enjoys increased knowledge about its business operations. “The support from the local IFS team helped us deliver our project on time and on budget, while maintaining a vanilla solution,” said Fitzpatrick. “Furthermore, we have had positive feedback from both the end-users and management on how much easier it has made their day-to-day roles, as well as how simple and intuitive the software is to navigate, which is really pleasing.”
Growing with the system
With one centralised database that everyone can access in real-time from both Perth and Adelaide, Babcock is reaping the benefits. The company has gained numerous new efficiencies and streamlined most business operations, including finance, project management, maintenance, engineering, and procurement. “The end result is now a more visible and accountable organisation, where we are seeing incremental improvements in our day-to-day operations and supply chain that will ultimately benefit our customers,” said McLaren.
“We now look forward to being able to leverage further benefits from our solution by drawing down customised data that will allow our business managers to investigate areas that were previously very difficult to reach or unavailable due to the lack of available data,” says McLaren.
“Furthermore, IFS Applications will support our business growth without significantly increasing our overhead,” says McLaren. “It will allow us to enter into new business ventures and support our customers in every way necessary.”
• Centralised database to support all their business operations
• Information in real-time
• Increased functionality and flexibility
• Scalable to meet Babcock's planned growth
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Babcock is a leading engineering design, systems integration and support contractor specialising in the provision of engineering design services, systems integration, project management and in-house testing for Australian defence customers.