The RSK group grew rapidly to its current size through a mixture of acquisitions and organic growth. The company recognised that this style of growth would require close attention to detail and in particular to maintaining a clear overview of the performance of all the business units. It wanted to consolidate all its records into one centralised system that could provide a 'helicopter' view of the group. Peter Barlow, RSK Systems Accountant, said, "We wanted a consistent set of nominal accounts which could look across the group and provide a much better view of what was happening."
The company realised it was also not gathering sufficient information to fully understand individual business performance and the data that was collected was inconsistent from business to business due to legacy processes. It wanted a system in place which would ensure that both the individual business management teams and the group executive had more high quality information from which they could base their decisions.
"We needed better information gathering in general as the data being recorded was thin on the ground and extremely varied," said Peter.
RSK also realised the manual systems for processing timesheets, purchases and sales invoices were extremely slow and inefficient. It wanted an automated system in place which would not only provide the management with real time reports but also streamline operations.
"Previously someone had to input over 600 Excel time sheets which had come in from across the different businesses and this was resulting in a huge duplication of effort," Peter added.
By introducing Access Financials Operations, RSK automated the submission of time sheets. Employees could enter their time sheets from anywhere, at any time, directly into the system. This eliminated the need for the finance team to re-input the data from hundreds of employees. Further duplication is avoided by raising the sales invoices directly on Access Financials Operations based on the real-time costing data provided.
This platform introduced real time reporting which shows the ongoing costs being incurred and time spent on individual projects. The senior management team can measure this data against budgets and current billing levels. The reports also show staff utilisation across the whole company and allow the management to see the level of workload capacity available.
Through Access Financials Operations RSK employees are now required to answer questions and adhere to business processes set down by the management whenever they submit a tender for work or make a purchase. The system also ensures proper assessments, such as credit checks, have been carried out when tendering for work.
By monitoring performance through Access Financials Operations, RSK can now see in real time if projects are coming in on budget. With timesheets being processed quicker, the company is now sending invoices out faster and improving company cash flow.
"Individual project managers are now able to see if they are delivering their projects to budget - previously they couldn't tell if they were under-running or over-running until the end of a project. They now know, in real time, exactly where they are up to in regards to time, money and what is left to do. If additional costs are being incurred, they can also look to see if there is scope to for an additional invoice."
He added: "One of the big wins is that we are now getting invoices out in a much smoother way. There used to be nothing coming into the business for three weeks, then a big influx of cash. We are now getting the invoices out quicker and it has helped with cash flow."
Greater visibility of workload across the company is helping RSK utilise its resources more effectively. It can identify potential staffing shortfalls and where solutions within the group exist - reducing external spending on subcontractors.
"We are certainly working better across the company as a group. We now know where people are busy, where they are not and what is in the pipeline. This lets us know if we need to sub contract - although with greater visibility across the group it is now easier for us to find solutions internally. This is not just helping us reduce external spend, it is allowing us to offer a much better integrated service to our clients."
RSK has developed Access Financials Operations to ensure employees conduct a full commercial review before submitting tenders - limiting the company's exposure to risk.
"Previously we would rely on the judgement of individual project managers and business directors but now we have a rigorous evaluation process in place that is all done through Access Financials Operations. This has put us in a better position to mitigate identified project risks when negotiating contractual terms. The finance system now gives project managers the support they need to make important decisions and has improved commercial awareness across the company."
Access Financials Operations is providing RSK with the data required to inform management decisions affecting the company's future growth. The group has increased its portfolio from 15 to 30 different businesses since introducing Access Financials Operations in 2007.
"If we didn't have Access Financials Operations in place a lot of the KPI data which managers now rely on wouldn't be there. Board directors and project team leaders are now making decisions based on their knowledge of the business and the information Access Financials Operations provides - who knows where we would be without it."
He added: "As an expanding company we are more comfortable and confident about future growth knowing we can extract the right information and be in overall control."