and Forte - Partners in Change
York-based Portasilo Ltd, a member of the Shepherd Building
Group, is split into two market-leading divisions;
The Bulk Handling Systems Division, leader in the provision
of bulk handling equipment, and Portastor Communications, Network Infrastructure
Solutions Providers to the communications industry.
Portastor Communications provide innovative solutions for
the Wireless, Fibre and Satellite markets. Two new solutions are the Portacell
Temporary Cell Site, which boosts mobile phone capacity at social events,
and the Smartcell Fast-Track Cell Site, a total permanent cell site deployed
in two working days, saving network operators money and increasing their rollout
Portasilo has an excellent reputation in the UK and worldwide, and has doubled
its turnover in the last two years - a trend that seems set to continue in
line with the current worldwide boom in the communications industry. This
rapid growth pointed-up the need to install more sophisticated financial accounting
and management information systems to respond to the increase in volumes and
the rapidly changing organisation.
Choosing a Partner
As a result, a team was tasked to review available systems,
and recommend a solution. They found eight possible solutions, which were
assessed in detail. While overall functionality and usability were clearly
important, the team identified a number of other essential functional requirements:
hire invoicing with automatically applied recurring billing construction industry
scheme support accounting for multiple VAT regimes foreign invoicing, including
Euro support. These requirements showed that only Forte was able to provide
all the features in its standard package. The detailed evaluation took place
over several months, during which Forte consultants provided comprehensive
workshop sessions in which options and ideas were explored with the team,
end users, IT specialists and Group and Divisional management. This evaluation
period allowed the team, end-users, management and others to develop a two-way
understanding with their Forte consultants. The availability to liaise directly
with the package authors and the availability of direct support emerged as
factors that were much appreciated, and contributed to the final decision.
First-class reporting was a vital component in the provision
of management information and here Cyberquery, supplied as an integral component
of Forte, was considered superb in terms of its functional richness and excellent
Interfacing to existing group systems was also vital and was therefore explored
in detail. Portasilo also investigated the scope of data conversion; here
the comprehensive nature of the Forte in-built interfacing facilities was
used as a framework for mutual understanding of this relatively complex area.
The decision to proceed with Forte was made in September, a Forte Project
Manager was appointed and an implementation plan and go-live milestones were
agreed. A number of factors pointed to a relatively extended, phased implementation
period. This decision took into account the need to fully involve the accounts
and IT staff while recognising that they had on-going responsibilities. An
opportunity to review and rethink the structure of the Chart of Accounts was
also incorporated into the plan. This reflected the need to consider both
the on-going Group requirements and the need for timely financial information
support for local management.
Coping with Change:
To ensure maximum benefit from the facilities now available,
Forte specialists worked in partnership with the Portasilo team and its IT
specialists to design, produce and implement the required two-way interfaces
so that financial data and code changes are passed routinely to the Group
Accounting System. Data from the Group payroll, purchasing, fixed assets,
petty cash and expenses system are regularly updated to Forte. The conversion
of customer and supplier data and related transactions was also incorporated
in this phase.
The original December target for implementation of the General Ledger, was
achieved earlier when it went live at the end of November with Sales Ledger
following at the end of March and Purchase Ledger in June.
User-friendly and comprehensive access to integrated data. Directly-available
Divisional views and a full drill-down to all the data. Times to produce sales
invoices, many with multi-currency, multi-VAT regime content, were dramatically
reduced, leading to staff savings (one person), and the flexibility to re-deploy
others to more productive duties. Reconciliation procedures which previously
took three days were now completed within 10 minutes. Receivables were markedly
reduced due to tighter invoice turnaround and the greater opportunity for
follow-up action. Form and layout of invoices was now much improved.
Real results from use of Cyberquery has initiated plans to make access to
the wealth of management information more widely available, either through
controlled access to Forte, or through views delivered to the desktop through
Cyberquery or a Web browser.