James Fisher Nuclear Grows the Business with EFACS E/8

When James Fisher Nuclear Limited set ambitious growth targets it needed the right ERP system to support the business. 
Thanks to EFACS E/8, the company has introduced tighter management controls, gained full visibility of costs through real-time data and can easily modify the system.

James Fisher Nuclear Limited provides specialist engineering and technical services. Based in Preston with offices in Cumbria, Flintshire, North Yorkshire and West Berkshire, the company employs 500 staff and has a turnover of over £60m. Its markets include nuclear, oil & gas, defence, emergency services, aerospace and process industries.

The company's activities span everything from design to manufacturing, often with a typical make-to-contract approach. As the company had grown through acquisitions, each location had different business processes. Before implementing EFACS E/8, it depended upon Sage financial software, timesheets and spreadsheets.

Project managers had to gather information from timesheets, record costs and constantly monitor progress. It was becoming a significant burden with little up-to-date information.

"The only people with access to financial information were the accounts department, but the people that needed it were the project managers," says Paul Rivans, Business Improvement Manager.

Ambitious Targets

2012 saw the business set an ambitious target of 20% year-on-year growth. Far better management controls and reporting were needed.

"We were looking for a fully-integrated ERP system. We wanted the provider to have an understanding of the business so they could support future improvement."

The key was instant access to up-to-date and accurate project information. This had to include timesheets, operating costs and material purchases.

"We wanted to put controls in place that enabled automated timesheet data collection. Expenses had to be collated and costed against projects too."

A review of a decade-old EFACS system used only at the company's Malton site in North Yorkshire pointed the way. The latest version - EFACS E/8 - offered a wide range of ERP modules including Contract Control.

"I invited Exel to demonstrate EFACS E/8 so I could do a gap analysis. It was very configurable," says Paul Rivans.

As an off-the-shelf solution, EFACS E/8 met around 90% of the business requirements and could easily accommodate process differences between sites. The integral Customisation Toolkit allowed core functionality to be added or modified with ease.

"EFACS E/8 was the most competitive offering, even with allowances for the configuration work. It gave us the fine tuning which deviated from the standard disciplines that an ERP system provides."

Workshop-led implementation

The implementation began in 2013 by installing a test system and assembling a project team. Backed by Exel's expertise and practical help, this team was responsible for user workshops, software implementation and system configuration. Current business processes were investigated and functional changes specified. EFACS E/8 was then configured for two operating divisions operating across six business sites.

The Customisation Toolkit permitted elements such as menus, forms, tables and fields to be changed without amending the applications. A new accounts structure was designed and timesheet collection and expenses recording set up. Templates were created for invoices, testing certificates and other documents. The Workflow module helped automate business procedures to increase operational efficiency.

Following some localised user training, the system went live at the end of 2013.

"This work gave us project management and cost control for every aspect of the business. Exel did really well," says Paul Rivans.

Growing success

In 2012 the company's turnover was £10 million and by 2016 it had reached £60 million. EFACS E/8 has proved ideal for contract control, even in areas such as the nuclear industry.

"Anything that generates revenue in the business, we now have a control and a process in place for. We have got full visibility of all the costs too."

If a project changes, the new details are immediately accessible. Project managers are automatically alerted by workflow triggers to issues – like labour overruns - before they become costly problems. They can see what everyone is doing, including over 300 designers using CAD systems.

"EFACS manages the risk. It protects our margin and the performance of the project. We now have total control of allocation of resources."

The Customisation Toolkit has allowed subsequent changes to be quickly delivered. In the year to February 2016, the financial benefits were impressive.

"We made a net cost saving of £83,610 by doing some EFACS E/8 configuration work to improve the processes to meet our business requirements," says Paul Rivans.

Customer relationship management, dashboards, key performance indicators and product data management are now planned along with Exel's fully integrated field service solution, Eagle Field Service. James Fisher Nuclear Limited certainly knows the right formula for success.