Global Tower Partners is a leading provider of outsourced antenna site facilities to the wireless communications industry. The company used Microsoft Dynamics® GP alongside a number of systems. As Global Tower Partners expanded and attracted investment from global private equity funds, it needed to streamline data processing and scale its analysis and reporting capabilities to prepare for continued growth. The FAS Group, now part of Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Solutions@MBAF, helped Global Tower Partners tailor Microsoft Dynamics GP and implement Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007 to extend the functionality in the business solution to more of its employees. With a simplified and fully integrated business solutions infrastructure, Global Tower Partners saves U.S.$125,000 each year and benefits from faster reporting, increased efficiency, and improved workforce collaboration.
|We found that the flexibility and adaptability of Microsoft Dynamics GP and tight integration with the 2007 Microsoft Office system gave us the potential to meet all of our business requirements.|
|Mark Serwinowski, Vice President, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Global Tower Partners|
Global Tower Partners owns, develops, and leases sites that support the infrastructure of major wireless communication providers, including Verizon and AT&T. Based in Boca Raton, Florida, the privately held company oversees a network of more than 10,000 free-standing towers and rooftop antennae nationwide, making it the fourth-largest tower company in the United States and the largest privately-owned company in the industry.
Over the last several years, Global Tower Partners has experienced significant growth, both in the size of its tower portfolio and its annual revenue. The company has added hundreds of new sites while expanding its annual revenue by an average of 35 percent year over year. The company’s consistently strong earnings recently prompted the 2007 investment by the Macquarie Group, an international banking and financial advisory company based in Australia. When executives from the Macquarie Group concluded its evaluation of Global Tower Partners’ operations, the need for shorter reporting cycles and more insightful detailed data was identified.
Global Tower Partners brought in Mark Serwinowski to develop and implement an IT strategy focused on enabling increased operational efficiency and scalability. Serwinowski, who serves as the company’s Vice President of IT and CIO, recalls, “We faced a number of structural challenges that our previous IT configuration didn’t adequately address. We needed to do a better job of capitalizing on the power and flexibility of existing systems, and also bring in new technologies to complement and extend the functionality of these systems.”
Large Transaction Volume
To process an average of more than 150,000 general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and purchase order transactions each month, accounting personnel at Global Tower Partners frequently prepare and analyze data in stand-alone Microsoft® Office Excel® 2007 spreadsheets. For several years, the company relied on Microsoft Integration Manager in Microsoft Dynamics GP to merge data in these offline spreadsheets with the database in Microsoft Dynamics GP. But, Serwinowski found that this approach did not meet the company’s increasing need for high-volume data input, particularly with regard to entering customer billing information into the system. “We needed to find a more efficient way of integrating transaction data into Microsoft Dynamics GP so that we could shorten our billing cycles,” says Serwinowski.
Sizeable Remote Workforce
Approximately one-third of the company’s employees work remotely. These employees relied on several different methods to gain access to the information they needed to complete daily business tasks. These methods included:
- Logging on to a third-party intranet portal.
- Establishing a connection to a terminal server to access documents on the file server or information stored in Microsoft Dynamics GP.
- Connecting to a separate terminal server to use Microsoft FRx® to generate reports.
- Sharing documents through an FTP site that required business partners to log on to access information.
“When I stood back and looked at our environment, it was quite painful,” notes Serwinowski. “Our people were relying on several different platforms to extract information from the business system, which meant they had to manage multiple accounts and passwords.” But, cumbersome remote access was more than just an inconvenience—it was a major source of inefficiency that hindered growth potential.
To meet requirements for faster transaction processing and accelerated financial reporting, Global Tower Partners evaluated a range of solution options, including migrating to a new enterprise resource planning system.
|We now have people that previously focused exclusively on data entry helping to build out our business intelligence capabilities on Office SharePoint Server 2007.|
|Mark Serwinowski, Vice President, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Global Tower Partners |
Global Tower Partners ultimately decided to build on the strength of Microsoft Dynamics GP and extend access to the solution through Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007. “Rather than take on the heavy risks and costs involved in moving to a new system, we investigated the potential of Microsoft Dynamics GP and other Microsoft technologies,” says Serwinowski. “We found that the flexibility and adaptability of Microsoft Dynamics GP and tight integration with the 2007 Microsoft Office system gave us the potential to meet all of our business requirements.” Global Tower Partners worked closely with the FAS Group (Solutions@MBAF) to define a strategy to meet these requirements.
Global Tower Partners takes advantage of eConnect for Microsoft Dynamics GP to quickly and accurately merge data maintained in Office Excel 2007 spreadsheets with the database in Microsoft Dynamics GP. eConnect helps Global Tower Partners accelerate the transfer of several hundred records a day by automatically synchronizing with the business logic in Microsoft Dynamics GP and drawing on the processing power of Microsoft SQL Server®.
In addition, the company takes advantage of Business Portal for Microsoft Dynamics GP, which provides simplified Web-based access to consolidated business data. This data is instantly available to managers and helps facilitate timely communication with customers and key stakeholders.
As part of its initiative to streamline operations, the company also uses built-in electronic banking functionality in Microsoft Dynamics GP, such as Electronic Funds Transfer for Payables Management and Safe Pay. With Electronic Funds Transfer for Payables Management, Global Tower Partners can automatically and securely transmit payables to the bank for authentication and payment. Now, the company’s business partners receive payments in one-to-two days or in about half the time compared to paper-based checks. In addition, the time required for bank reconciliation was significantly reduced due to the elimination of outstanding checks. Safe Pay lets the company automatically generate and transmit a list of all authorized checks, enabling the bank to quickly cross-reference check numbers and amounts to verify authenticity before executing payment.
Global Tower Partners has capitalized on the flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics GP to streamline its financial reporting functions. This has helped the company reduce its month-end reporting cycle by 50% and to meet multiple external reporting requirements for investors and different groups of lenders while driving greater operational efficiency and improved productivity across the organization. With help from the FAS Group (Solutions@MBAF), Global Tower Partners partitioned the database in Microsoft Dynamics GP into multiple databases in compliance with prescribed business rules. This lets the company automatically generate separate reports for different groups of assets based on predefined criteria.
And by using SmartLists in Microsoft Dynamics GP, a tool that lets workers create predefined information queries, employees across Global Tower Partners can quickly pinpoint and extract only the information they need to complete a given reporting task. Because of the seamless integration between Microsoft Dynamics GP and the 2007 Microsoft Office system, employees can export information directly to Office Excel 2007 and even select report templates in Office Excel 2007 based on commonly used SmartLists. In addition, because Global Tower Partners takes advantage of Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office, employees are able to access data from the database in Microsoft Dynamics GP from within Office Excel 2007 on their desktops.
Simplified, Standardized System Access
Global Tower Partners replaced its third-party intranet installation with Office SharePoint Server 2007 to consolidate access to company information. Now, a significant number of the company’s employees rely on Office SharePoint Server 2007 as the single point of entry for access to business data in Microsoft Dynamics GP, shared-document workspaces, and Microsoft Excel reports. Managers across all departments take advantage of the familiar navigation and easy-to-use interface of Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites to collaborate on budget reports and other projects that require frequent interaction. Further, Global Tower Partners uses the enterprise search capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 to quickly mine intranet content and data in Microsoft Dynamics GP for faster, better-informed decision making.
|Because of the inherent flexibility and scalability of Microsoft Dynamics GP, we will continue to depend on the solution as a major part of our growth strategy. |
|Mark Serwinowski, Vice President, Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Global Tower Partners |
With Microsoft Dynamics GP and Office SharePoint Server 2007, Global Tower Partners processes transactions and completes reporting tasks in less time, gains greater flexibility to meet changing business requirements, and saves U.S.$125,000 annually.
Saves $125,000 Annually
By replacing its third-party portal application and integrating Microsoft Dynamics GP with Office SharePoint Server 2007, Global Tower Partners calculates a recurring savings of U.S.$125,000 each year. “Because Office SharePoint Server 2007 lets us extend access to data in Microsoft Dynamics GP to more people in the organization, we’ve expanded the reach of the system without increasing the number of people that need access to Microsoft Dynamics GP on their desktops,” says Serwinowski.
Drives Greater Productivity
In addition to contributing directly to bottom-line savings, Global Tower Partners has increased productivity by taking advantage of the tight link between Microsoft Dynamics GP and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Employees save time by using both custom and preformatted Excel spreadsheets and SQL Server Reporting Services reports with real-time connections to Microsoft Dynamics GP to quickly locate and display the information they need. With the time saved by using these reports (an estimated 20 percent savings), employees now perform informal analysis and share their insights with managers through Office SharePoint Server 2007. Says Serwinowski, “We now have people that previously focused exclusively on data entry helping to build out our business intelligence capabilities on Office SharePoint Server 2007.”
Reduces Billing Cycle Time by 90 Percent
By using eConnect for Microsoft Dynamics GP, Global Tower Partners has greatly reduced the amount of processing time required to transfer customer billing records from stand-alone Office Excel 2007 spreadsheets to Microsoft Dynamics GP. This process now only takes 1.5 hours to merge 20,000 records with the database in Microsoft Dynamics GP; previously, this process took more than 20 hours to complete. In addition, Electronics Funds Transfer for Payables Management in Microsoft Dynamics GP cuts the company’s payment processing time by 50 percent, reducing the costs associated with personnel, check and envelope purchases and bank reconciliation. Safe Pay functionality in Microsoft Dynamics GP enhances this benefit and provides added protection against fraudulent bank account activity.
Increases Business AgilityFor More Information
With the flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics GP, Global Tower Partners was able to meet various internal and external requirements for automated allocation of groups of assets to multiple external entities. By tailoring Microsoft Dynamics GP to meet sophisticated business rules tied to the company’s debt obligations, Global Tower Partners automatically generates separate reports for numerous legal entities and clusters of entities. “Without the ability to cost-effectively modify Microsoft Dynamics GP to meet this requirement, we would have had to migrate to a new system,” Serwinowski says. “Because of the inherent flexibility and scalability of Microsoft Dynamics GP, we will continue to depend on the solution as a major part of our growth strategy.”
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