ES Group has been in the business of providing staging, building and logistics solutions around the world for over 30 years, with a client list that reads like a Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. From world class music artistes to multinational exhibition companies, they are now a major force in the provision of staging for rock shows and concerts as well as other events and industrial use.
With a culture of creativity and flexibility, ES Group prides themselves on their innovative and adaptable approach to meeting their client’s specific requirements, from simple platforms to the provision of large complex projects. Their comprehensive service of project management, design, manufacture, transportation and stage assemble has been used for the European tours of bands such as Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Madonna.
“As ES Group shares resources, staff and equipment between countries, especially for large international concerts, it made good business sense to use the same integrated solution across the globe.”
ES Group is a growing company in a fast moving industry. Historically, their systems were adequate for the small board of directors at the time, and little administration support was needed. However, their rapid expansion over recent years has led to increased recruitment. Mike Birke, Finance Director at ES Group, explains. “Training new staff on the old systems proved challenging. Recording and reporting consistent information across multiple systems, especially in the busy seasonal periods was very stressful.” For a business that operates 24/7, it was difficult to bring in new staff, as there were no formal processes in place and training was expensive.
ES Group works on short lead times, and needs to respond quickly to new opportunities. By the very nature of the event market, project flexibility is crucial. However, as every department was keeping their own database, project control was challenged. Inefficiency was transparent across the organisation, and led to confusion in the management of the company. Birke stresses, “With four different processes managed by three different people, key information wasn’t updated in a synchronised manner. We needed to store data from finance to operations in one database.”
They introduced Navision, as it was then known, to the business in 1998. At the time, it served the purpose, as it was a solid and powerful accounting tool. Following Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision, it was clear that Microsoft Dynamics NAV would develop into a robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool, complementing their own expansion. “ES Group has developed a huge amount of knowledge, but when you’re continually doubling in size, you can’t rely on your own intellect. You have to regiment your processes to spread your load,” emphasises Birke.
Penetrating their market with additional products and services led to further success, and ES Group needed a better support infrastructure. With growth comes the need for process efficiency and this triggered them to develop their internal systems. They implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM in early 2008, providing a consistent view of the order book. Rob Doick, Project Manager at ES Group says; “Further productivity gains are planned to integrate CRM with the ERP system, and directly link with Accounts Receivable.”
Currently, ES Group is upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Following four months of due diligence, ES Group selected Tectura. They were confident that Tectura ticked all their boxes in the selection process. “We came to the conclusion that Tectura’s project solution was the most effective, especially when integrated with the Finance system,” continues Doick.
ES Group was encouraged that Tectura offered worldwide support. Tectura Australia is mirroring the implementation with ES Group in Australia. Historically they were using a local accounting package, and, as well as the UK, started growing rapidly. “As ES Group shares resources, staff and equipment between countries, especially for large international concerts, it made good business sense to use the same integrated solution across the globe,” highlights Birke.
Although Tectura may not have been the cheapest solution, their knowledge of the ES Group business and the quality of their presentation made it an easy choice in the evaluation process. Birke goes on to say; “Tectura stood out in the way that they would manage the project, demonstrating a well worn project management path that they’d stick to. Their global coverage including an Australian capability was a distinct advantage.”
Working with the directors, Tectura ensured the right internal implementation teams were in place. The project had representation from across the organisation, although there were initial challenges with motivation and training. With involvement from finance, trucking and staging through to special projects, a programme of stakeholder management helped reduce resistance through to the individual business divisions.
Tectura was responsible for delivering the Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade, a project management solution and a CRM tool. Historically this team kept their own financial records, causing huge discrepancies between the front and back office. The project management solution, integrating with finance, was critical. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM project was on a smaller scale, and training was shorter as the system was tailored to the organisation.
ES Group and Tectura enjoyed a smooth Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation, although it initially got off to a slow start, due to internal availability. ES Group has a business to run, with limited resources. However, the project soon picked up pace, and was tightly managed. With good executive sponsorship, and a programme of regular meetings, objectives were set and achieved.
After successful user adoption with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the business experienced more resistance to the Microsoft Dynamics NAV upgrade. ES Group has adopted standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV following lessons learnt from tailoring Microsoft Dynamics CRM to match the business. “We were keen to keep to the standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV product, and challenge our business processes, rather than making too many specific modifications,” highlights Doick. ES Group are now redrafting their organisation charts, rewriting job descriptions and training individuals in line with the new and more effective processes within the business.
ES Group has now sharpened their sales and marketing engine, concentrating on one industry and achieving greater results. Sales per employee are a key benchmark, and they are confident they can drive better value with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system now in place. New customers are now incorporated in the same way, as there is now only one contact database.
“We were keen to keep to the standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV product, and challenge our business processes, rather than making too many specific modifications.”
Their sales have doubled, and ES Group has better control and visibility of its business processes. Customer service levels have improved, as there is a greater confidence in the information to hand. Birke says; “We no longer have five people talking to the same customer all saying different things. We have absolutely increased our customer satisfaction with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.” With everyone using one CRM system, and the information all in one place in a consistent format, Birke stresses that this is a huge leap forward; “In the UK, the business now issues quotes in the same format using the same Microsoft solution.”
Training new staff on Microsoft Dynamics NAV will be a lot less stressful. With one company system, the business will be more efficient, and the whole induction process easier. ES Group can obtain information faster, and Birke highlights how they can reduce costs. “All of our processes will be centralised. Resource allocation across the business will be more effective and the next phase of the system will highlight transparency of stock across the globe.” Birke goes on to say, “Projects will be more effectively planned and resourced.” Going forward, the single database will create much greater project control, and ES Group envisages sales by employees to go up. “Compared to the chaos before, people aren’t wasting time looking for information,” highlights Birke.
The system is being adopted across the business with growing enthusiasm. Improved processes will allow middle management to operate more efficiently. Everyone will be able to see their day to day work getting easier, sharing the vision of the organisation.