National Timber Group achieves centralised control of financial business processes through bespoke consultancy from Incremental.

 

‘‘We have gone from four disparate finance systems to a centralised position. Incremental provided us with an exemplary team of developers and consultants to achieve this highly important goal.”

Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director, National Timber Group

Through a series of digital transformation phases and bespoke consultancy, Incremental has worked with National Timber Group to augment and centralise its finance system and business processes, achieving internal efficiencies across core operations.

National Timber Group is the largest independent added-value timber distribution and processing group in the UK. The group was created through the acquisitions of market-leading brands Thornbridge, North Yorkshire Timber, Rembrand and Arnold Laver.
The group serves a diverse customer base including joiners, housebuilders and contractors, and is a favoured supplier of large-scale infrastructure projects.

“The development team and the consultants who worked on the interface were exemplary.”

Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director, National Timber Group

Four sets of systems as a result of acquisitions

With successful growth and acquisition of established brands, National Timber Group found itself with four duplications of IT systems across its entities. Due to siloed processes, the acquired companies functioned independently, making the centralisation of information very challenging. National Timber Group lacked suitable data interfacing and clear oversight across its companies.

Despite National Timber Group’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system being tailored to the industry, it needed to change the interface that existed with Microsoft Dynamics to fit the more bespoke elements of its business. Therefore, National Timber Group required a technology partner with custom development expertise to sync data between these core systems. Without a smooth interface, business continuity was at risk.

The next challenge was to achieve stronger economies of scale by streamlining processes across the entirety of the group, centralising control and oversight of IT.  Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director at National Timber Group said, “We needed a specialist partner and fortunately Incremental came recommended.”

"We needed a specialist partner and fortunately Incremental came recommended."

Custom development to create a robust interface

With the merging of companies and duplication of systems, the project was complex and could not be achieved with an out-of-the-box solution. A consolidation strategy had to be created to ensure a gradual move towards centralisation with minimal impact on business continuity. A bespoke interface between the ERP system and Microsoft Dynamics NAV was recommended by Incremental.

Raymond Little, Principal SharePoint Architect at Incremental said “The complexity of the project and the business rules requested by National Timber Group, meant the approach required custom development. Our key priority was to meet the initial business deadlines with a robust core interface.”

Phase one
National Timber Group were consolidating data from two disparate areas into one ERP system. The existing solution could not handle routing transactions into different destinations. Incremental worked with the key business users within the organisation to understand the data in the source systems and how these should be routed to the destination.

Using this knowledge, Incremental developed a custom solution to consume, transform, route and insert the data into the Dynamics NAV system. This phase required an in-depth technical discovery to fully understand the requirements of the build. During this, Incremental created an interface unique to National Timber Group.

Discussing phase 1, Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director said, “The development team and the consultants who worked on the interfaces were exemplary.”

Phase two
In phase two, Incremental worked with business users to define a new standard way of working in Dynamics NAV which all companies within the group would adopt. During this exercise, Incremental outlined best practice for using the system, delivering efficiencies across the estate. Incremental upgraded the custom integration to match the new, best practice processes. This provided the foundation for a new system which would be used by all companies within National Timber Group.

Phase two was a radical business shift with a big impact on end-users. To support organisation-wide user-adoption, Incremental and National Timber Group utilised Incremental’s champion-user framework. Incremental consultants provided training sessions to key stakeholders who became champions of the system. These champions then trained the teams across the organisation, cascading best practice to all end-users. Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director said, “During the project, the overall mood was positive and there was a real can-do attitude from the team at Incremental which spread throughout our team.”

“During the project, the overall mood was positive and there was a real can-do attitude from the team at Incremental which spread throughout our team.”

Centralised control and efficient processes

National Timber Group have fully interfaced core systems and optimised, standardised processes.

Through this digital transformation journey, National Timber Group have reformed its internal structure to deliver the following key benefits:

• Unification of its finance, orders and reporting systems.
• Improved internal efficiencies by removing manual effort throughout the organisation.
• Reduced costs by removing duplicate systems and achieving better economies of scale.

Phase three of the project is currently in development. With a clearly defined roadmap, Incremental will build on the established business process and roll this out across the whole of National Timber Group. This will create a single way of working and help drive efficiencies. Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director said, “There is a clear roadmap. We needed to centralise four companies so they all operate in the same way, with the same software, configuration and finance system. We are on that home stretch now with Incremental.”

By gaining full control and oversight of IT across the organisation, National Timber Group has positioned itself strongly to support further organic and acquisitional growth.

“There is a clear roadmap. We needed to centralise four companies so they all operate in the same way, with the same software, configuration and finance system. We are on that home stretch now with Incremental.”

Moving to the cloud

National Timber Group continue to optimise and upgrade its use of legacy systems, positioning itself well for a full journey to the cloud. Incremental are also working with National Timber Group to expand the custom integration into other data sources. This will help to reduce manual effort and allow all data to flow into Dynamics NAV, allowing for better reporting and cost control.

Incremental continue to guide National Timber Group’s unification journey as it moves towards the cloud. Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director said, “In business I believe in long-term relationships. Incremental are our digital transformation partner and development specialists of choice. We will be sticking with them.”

National Timber Group’s next step to the cloud is focused on its ERP system. With either Dynamics 365 Business Central or Dynamics 365 Finance Incremental will be supporting this move. Mike Kenyon, Group IT Director of National Timber Group explained, “If we grow quickly, Incremental have experience in Dynamics 365 Finance and Business Central. Incremental will be able to support us through further acquisitions and future growth.”

“In business I believe in long-term relationships. Incremental are our digital transformation partner and development specialists of choice. We will be sticking with them.”

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