In an interview brought to you by Oracle NetSuite, author, educator and inventor, Mike Pesce chats with Julian Christian, the Chief Financial Officer of McElligotts about what’s required to upgrade business processes from traditional methods.
As technology continues to advance, the processes by which a business runs need to keep up with these technological changes to create the most efficient systems for the organisation. However, upgrading systems can be daunting, even when you recognise that the transition will provide an improved outcome.
Julian Christian has been the CFO of protective coating company, McElligotts, since 2017. In this time, Mr Christian has led the business through enormous changes that have increased the company’s efficiency.
McElligotts is a national company that ensures the maximum life of large assets is achieved. The company extends the life of assets by removing old coatings of paint, then refurbishing them with new coatings that will protect them for a further 50 years, or even longer.
The firm, which was founded by brothers John and Jim McElligott in Melbourne in 1954, experienced a period rapid expansion in the early 2000s. During this expansion, not all the changes resulting from this growth were fully integrated. Because there were different systems being used across the country, it was difficult to get an accurate picture of the company’s overall financial position, and good governance was challenging.
Mr Christian decided the business had to change its processes, beginning with the financial component. A corporate structure was put in place to assist with the changes, and this framework built confidence among the team.
The business decided to partner with the software provider NetSuite to establish an improved system. NetSuite was chosen for its flexibility and cost effectiveness.
Some staff members were initially resistant to making major changes, but they were supportive when it became evident that new processes were necessary for the growth of the business.
The rollout of the implementation was a fast process taking only around 16 weeks from when the plans started rolling to when it went live. It was about an 18-month process from when the contracts were signed.
What was the biggest benefit of the upgrade?
“Our ability to understand how a job is tracking,” says Mr Christian.
He explains that in the past, the lack of an adequate system meant the company would sometimes nearly complete a job and then realise it was unprofitable.
“Now we get information quicker, and we can make those decisions to turn things around in a more timely fashion.”
Mr Christian say that the next step will be to upgrade the systems beyond the financial component. This includes the close management of assets and reviewing other areas such as workplace health and safety, to assess how these areas can be improved.
The upgrades have proved extremely beneficial to the company during COVID-19 as
it has been easy to keep the business running with people working from home.
“People can do jobs as usual without needing to be in the office,” he says.
Efficiency is key
Mr Christian says that if a business is looking for an indication that it’s time to upgrade its systems, he points to the importance of efficiency.
“If you can’t go to a board confidently and give them a fair and true indication of how they are traveling financially, then that’s a pretty good indicator you need to upgrade your systems.”
McElligotts partnership with NetSuite, has given Mr Christian enormous insight into the business. He is now able to track the jobs in live time and make changes in a timely fashion to make jobs more profitable.
The need to digitise Australian businesses to keep up with technological advancements is growing. Digital systems keep your business competitive and in control because you know your position at any point of time.
As the saying goes, ‘What you can’t measure, you can’t improve’.