Rapid Technology Deployment Heralds Organizational Change at Dubai Public Telco

Professional Communication Corporation, a key telecommunications company in Dubai, had grown considerably from its small beginnings. However, its lack of a centralized computer system and use of basic financial software to record its business transactions slowed down management reporting and decision-making. The company deployed Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 to gain better business visibility and have a “one-stop shop” for business processes and activities.

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*All critical business information is now visible. There are no requests that have not been acted upon. Things are now so much better. Our nightmares and pain points have disappeared.*

Ms. Huda Al Suwaidi
Director of Corporate Supports
Professional Communication Corporation (Nedaa)

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Professional Communication Corporation (Nedaa) was established by the Government of Dubai in June 2008 to assist in the country’s disaster and crisis management by providing critical, specialized communication systems to vital security and safety agencies. Initially its main customers were the Dubai army, police, civil defense, transport, fire, and health emergency agencies.

With an exclusive government-license to provide professional mobile radio and two-way transceiver systems, Nedaa expanded its customer base and now caters to close to seven thousand customer-organizations, including those in the private and semi-government sectors. Nedaa has also grown in organizational size and complexity, and has a staff of about seventy.

In February 2012, Ms. Huda Al Suwaidi, Nedaa’s Director of Corporate Supports, realized that the company needed to enhance its IT infrastructure. Although the company had grown considerably from its small beginnings, it still had no centralized computer system and mainly used Microsoft Excel to record its business transactions. Ms. Al Suwaidi said, “Since the establishment of Nedaa, we had used Microsoft Excel to prepare our journal ledgers, income statements and balance sheets, depreciate assets, and monitor transactions with suppliers and customers. Our financial and business data were not integrated and were stored in islands of information across various desktop computers. There was a lot of double-handling of data and risk of inaccuracies. Because of a lack of data linkage, data sometimes did not match.”

She added, “The lack of a centralized database meant that we often did not know how many commitments we had to our suppliers and had difficulty keeping track of key business transactions. Our sales team also came to us regularly for information on their customers because they had no ability to view such information from their own computers. Customer and management reports were also taking long to generate and requests were not acted upon promptly. More importantly, all data was stored in just one central computer which led to high risks of total data loss. We saw a clear need for a technology solution that would address a nightmarish situation.”

Disparate Systems and Islands of Information

One-Stop Shop for Business Processes and Activities
The company wanted a technology solution that gave better visibility and provided a “one-stop shop” for business processes and activities. The technology solution should also lead to improvements and streamlining of accounting processes and budget planning, and enable accounting information and transactions to be updated in real-time. The technology solution also needed to be flexible, easy to use, and quick to deploy.

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*We saw a clear need for a technology solution that would address a nightmarish situation.*

Ms. Huda Al Suwaidi
Director of Corporate Supports
Professional Communication Corporation (Nedaa)

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On the recommendation of Nedaa Deputy Chief Executive Director Mansoor Juma Bu Osiba, Nedaa approached Al-Futtaim Technologies, a leading system integrator in the United Arab Emirates and part of the Al-Futtaim Trading Group of Companies which is the largest business conglomerate in UAE and lower gulf with diversified business and operates through over 50 different companies around the world.

Al-Futtaim Technologies, established in the UAE in 1989, initially recommended Microsoft Dynamics GP, a complete enterprise resource planning solution for small and midsize businesses. But the solution lacked some functionalities needed by Nedaa, such as workflow and purchase requisitions. Oracle was considered, but it exceeded the user requirements of Nedaa which only had six users at the start compared to the twenty minimum users for an Oracle license.

As alternative, Al-Futtaim Technologies suggested Microsoft Dynamics AX, a powerful enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that is easy to use, gives users a consistent and familiar Microsoft experience, and is easy to deploy and maintain. “What attracted us to Microsoft Dynamics AX was its Role Center feature which provides an overview of users’ job functions and gives role-tailored workflow, transaction data, alerts, reports, task lists, links, and common tasks associated with users’ role in the company,” said Ms. Al Suwaidi. “The Microsoft Dynamics AX workflow infrastructure in particular could facilitate the movement and escalation of documents and tasks through a work process, to enhance accountability and completion of tasks and activities,” she added.

Although Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 was available, Nedaa chose Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 because of its concurrent user feature which allowed the software to be concurrently installed in specific computer machines, regardless of user. Ms. Al Suwaidi said, “Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 had superior features compared to the earlier version. But not only was its licensed based on named users as opposed to concurrent users, we had concerns about its potential instability at that time. We figured that we could always upgrade to the newer version – which we are considering – when we wanted to.”

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*Paperwork was reduced. Everything was more systematic and we dropped long procedures. All critical business information is now visible. There are no requests and processes in trays that have not been acted upon. Things are now so much better. Our nightmares and pain points have disappeared. I am now more relaxed because of our new technology.*

Ms. Huda Al Suwaidi
Director of Corporate Supports
Professional Communication Corporation (Nedaa)

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Rapid Deployment and Going Live in Four Months
“When Nedaa designated us as implementation partners, our main challenge was to deploy and roll out the system in four months,” said Mallesh Reddy, Al-Futtaim Technologies Business Manager. “The project was to start in June 2012 and go live in October 2012. The schedule was tight, but we were confident in doing a rapid roll out in four months. Given the newness of Nedaa as an organization and the amount of data they had, a rapid deployment was not only feasible but preferable to a prolonged, full-fledged system requirements study. With a rapid deployment, users had more immediate opportunities for hands-on use, giving us immediate and valuable feedback.”

Going live with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 involved making a decision on what old data to migrate to the new system. Ms. Al Suwaidi said, “As a management decision, we only migrated the most recent data accumulated within a six-month period prior to new system deployment, and not old data. Migrating all the data would have taken a lot of effort and affected our target deployment dates. The old data was also not structured along role-center lines and did not have the details we needed for the Microsoft Dynamics AX infrastructure. We knew that if we ever need historical data, we could always go back to our Microsoft Excel files and analyze the data.”

System deployment also involved designing and customizing workflows, role centers, reports, and documents. Mr. Reddy said, “Only after we completed user acceptance and testing did we go live with the system.” Because of security requirements, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 was deployed on premises. “Nedaa may consider going to the cloud in the future through Microsoft Hyper-V Server. But that will only happen after we deal with the appropriate government regulations and approvals on the matter,” added Ms. Al Suwaidi.

Managing Chance and Dealing with Technology Resistance
“One of the potential problems that we identified in going live with this project was organizational resistance to change. We anticipated possible user resistance and lack of enthusiasm in adopting the technology” said Ms. Al Suwaidi. “To address these issues and as part of our change management strategy, I got the support of our Chief Executive Director Saeed Al Muhairi who sent a memo to all departments instructing everyone to embrace the new technology. He made it clear that this new technology was the best way forward for our company and that we could all expect widespread and dramatic benefits to our company, staff, customers, and suppliers.”

While there was initial hesitation among staff in adopting the technology, this slowly disappeared in the face of an explicit mandate from top management and the positive experience in using the technology. The Nedaa staff was also provided training in the use of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009. Ms. Al Suwaidi said, “I told our staff that if they wanted me as Director of Corporate Supports to help them get the job done, then they needed to use the system. Slowly everybody used it. Paperwork was reduced. Everything was more systematic and we dropped long procedures. All critical business information is now visible. There are no requests and processes in trays that have not been acted upon. Things are now so much better. Our nightmares and pain points have disappeared. I am now more relaxed because of our new technology.”

Next Steps

Omvang klant: Medium Organization
Branche: Communications and Network Service Providers
Land of regio: United Arab Emirates
Oplossingen:
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009
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