Paisley-based construction company, Clark Contracts was founded in 1978 as a joinery business. Today it has grown into one of Scotland's leading contractors, employing almost 200 people and handling contracts worth up to...
Clients include organisations from the education, healthcare, retail, industrial and leisure sectors, and include names such as IBM and Sky. In May 2013, Clark Contracts made the decision to replace its existing systems with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013. The new product included two industry specific modules offered by Xperience specifically for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013: contracts365 and service365. An additional insurance module was also implemented along with a fully integrated resource planning system.
Financial Director, John Mooney, joined Clark Contracts in 1985 and explains the reasons for the change to Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013. "We were using a legacy version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV which had been discontinued," he says. “So the primary driver for change was to upgrade and start to take advantage of the additional functionality that was now available from Microsoft. We also wanted to extend the use of the system into other areas of our business. "We’d worked with some of the Xperience team before, so we called them in for a demonstration of how the more advanced product could make us more efficient as our business expands. We were also interested in looking at Xperience's construction and service modules, contracts365 and service365, which integrate seamlessly into the core 365 Business Central product."
One of the features that particularly attracted John was the role tailored client. This allows for role centres to be configured that provide a graphically rich user-defined interface that allows users to access the key information and data required for their role. Each role centre can include lists of key data, graphs, notifications and the tasks that each user needs to complete, known as cue cards. “Cue cards can be added to show transactions in the system that need to be processed or actioned. This could be open plant orders, open sub- contractor certificates or outstanding contract sales applications. It’s ideal if a transaction needs to move through multiple people as everyone can check their individual workload and activities.”
The company also required tighter integration with Microsoft Office products, particularly Microsoft Excel. “We wanted to set up dynamic business intelligence reporting within Microsoft Excel so that users could have real-time access to key performance indicators. This has been delivered using Jet Reports. Also, we needed tighter integration with Microsoft Word, so we could issue customers with progress updates – template letters that can be driven automatically from Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 using Microsoft Word. Plus, we wanted tighter integration with Microsoft Outlook.
“A large part of our business is service management where engineers go out and do planned maintenance and break-fix type work. We also do a lot of insurance work that can involve surveys and different trades going in at different times, so we needed better resource scheduling and planning. A cool feature of Xperience’s solution is the integrated drag and drop resource planning tool for Microsoft NAV 2013. Calls can be sent straight to the planner so that we can easily allocate them to the engineer with the right skills who’s in the right place. The planning tool then seamlessly updates to give a complete overview of task status.
“Another module that will be of enormous value in the future is the mobile solution whereby calls can be automatically allocated to engineers via tablets. We’ll send out the orders, find out where the engineers are through the tracking system, know what their next job is and when. So, a guy will simply turn up, do the job, key in the data and that will be it, job done. Back here we can put together an invoice in a fraction of the time it takes with our current paper-based system. In fact, we’re not the only people to be impressed with the tablets; one of our clients wants to roll them out across its own business, so Xperience will be meeting with them shortly.”
The go live date was the last weekend in January 2014. “To be honest, it was a stressful time,” admits John. “The sheer scale of what needed doing meant that it probably took us a good two months before we were saying ‘Right, OK, we can move forward now’. However, the guys from Xperience rolled up their sleeves, put in the hours and made sure it worked at the end of the day.
“It’s still relatively early days,” John continues, “but already we’re more efficient. For instance, we used to carry out a lot of processes in Excel that we can do faster and better through Jet Reports. Now I look forward to carrying out tasks that used to be a real chore. Things that used to take us hours to do can be done in five or 10 minutes flat.
“The surveyors are impressed with thecContracts365 module. They were involved at the design stage and now they’ve seen it in action, they’d like to extend it further – so much so that they might even move away from some of the Microsoft Excel based procedures that they use. They think ‘Oh contracts365 should be able to do this, so what do we need adding?’
“There have been benefits elsewhere, for example within our buying department. We used to send out a lot of plant reports to site, feed engineers’ responses into a Microsoft Excel dump and then try to resolve any queries. Xperience has written a feature that allows us to send plant reports at the press of a button and import responses straight into NAV, so that’s another thing that’s working really well.”
“I always ask myself the question: is there anything we would have done differently? Would we be using the same people? Yes. Would we go for the same product? No question about it.
“What would I have changed? I would probably have given Xperience more time with the data rather than give it to them on the Thursday and say we needed it live on the Monday. There have been teething troubles but am I happy with the choice? Yes. Am I happy with the people? Yes. Would I recommend the product to somebody else? I already have.”