Fulcrum Infrastructure Services Limited
Utilities supplier improves productivity, revenue and customer experience by replacing 160 legacy IT systems with Microsoft Dynamics AX
"Taking on Microsoft Dynamics AX has been a really positive experience for us - it's given us what we needed, and provided a great platform as the basis to move forward."
Stephen Holden, Head of IT, Fulcrum
Fulcrum is a leading independent utilities infrastructure organisation, providing technical, design, management, consultancy and audit services across gas and multi-utility connections. Customers range from self-build house builders to industrial, commercial and public sector developers.
Fulcrum was bought from the National Grid in 2010. This meant it went from being a public sector organisation to a private, commercial interest. At the time of the move, the organisation was over-staffed, and its IT infrastructure was ageing and consisted of about 160 systems.
"Our systems didn't talk to each other very well - and people were putting major work-arounds in place rather than trying to fix an issue with a system," explains Stephen Holden, Head of IT at Fulcrum. "This complex situation was restricting the business. We needed new processes and new applications."
Fulcrum chose Microsoft Dynamics AX as it was an easy-to-implement, single and fully integrated solution, that would support growth across the entire business. It also decided to adopt Microsoft Dynamics AX best practices, rather than customise the software to fit its current processes.
The implementation was managed by a consortium of partners, including Prisa Consulting, Binary Consultants and Seaton Partners. "They were professional, knowledgeable and creative," says Holden, continuing, "We built the base system before Christmas 2011 and we finalised the specs and processes in January. We had everything developed by March and then went live in April 2012."
This was a big implementation by any company's standards. Holden explains, "Integration has been the biggest step forward. Sales, delivery and finance are now all in one place, and we get so much more detailed information."
Significant productivity increase
One of the key requirements when moving to Microsoft Dynamics AX was that Fulcrum wanted growth despite a reduced headcount. "We're currently doing what we did previously, but with 30 per cent fewer staff. This is obviously a significant productivity increase for us," says Holden.
With Microsoft Dynamics AX giving Fulcrum more detail and insight into its projects, the company is more aware of how its contractors are performing. This introduces opportunities not only to improve processes by providing feedback to contractors which they can act upon, but also to recognise the types of jobs that are in high demand and which could accommodate an increase in profit margin.
Holden points out: "Being able to see clearly how our contractors' services are selling means that we're able to adjust our pricing and increase revenue by being more competitive."
Rapid return on investment
Using the new system, Fulcrum has reduced the company's IT costs by about a third. "We'll have, roughly speaking, paid for our investment in Microsoft Dynamics AX within three years," says Holden.
Better-informed project management
Microsoft Dynamics AX allows managers to track each individual part of a job - for example, when installations are taking place, who is doing the work and how long it will take.
This means the company is no longer reliant upon status information from its contractors. "We can now tell customers directly and efficiently, "yes, we've provisioned your new service, the meter will be installed next Tuesday, and it will go live on Thursday'," says Holden. "We've never had this level of detail - or control - before."
Change in culture
With the improved visibility that comes with a single, efficient, integrated system, all management teams are now able to assess and audit their own performance data and that of other sections of the business they deal with.
This in turn has made the whole culture of the company more quality-focused. "The finance teams, for example, are now much more active at coming forward and questioning why we're doing something in a certain way, and also suggesting an alternative approach, which may be more profitable" says Holden.
Holden concludes: "Taking on Microsoft Dynamics AX has been a really positive experience for us - it's given us what we needed, and provided a great platform as the basis for Fulcrum to move forward."