GeeFirm supports More with Zoho ERP and Google for Work transition

14 June 2016 Consultancy.uk

Netherlands-based marketing and design group More has commissioned GeeFirm to transform its IT infrastructure. Following completion of the roll-out, planned for Q3 and Q4 this year, two of More’s business units will use the Zoho ERP solution and a range of Google for Work apps and products to manage their client endeavours and internal operations. 

With a team of around 90 professionals across four offices in the Netherlands, More is a mid-sized player in the Dutch landscape for marketing, design and branding consultancies. The group consists of several brands that each serve a particular field of expertise, including The Brandcast Company, SlagBijAlmelo, NewCome, Adwise, Bcause and Catchy. The firm’s service portfolio spans offerings ranging from market research and branding to online communication, social media and the design & build of websites.

Over the past years More used a Microsoft Exchange system to support its primary front-office and back-office operations. In light of the changing demands from team members and clients, as well as the wish to bolster agility and lower operational IT costs, More’s management team last year decided to embark on a vendor selection trajectory. Karin Gombert, Controller at More, was tasked with assessing potential options and unravelling which solution(s) would best serve the firm’s needs. “We sought a solid cloud-based solution that could support, and more importantly, enable our primary processes,” she says. Gombert spoke with several software providers in the market – from the traditional incumbents to upcoming players – and following a ‘due diligence’ on possibilities she decided to engage GeeFirm.

Founded in October last year, through the merger between IT providers AllSolutions, Internet Overal and Synmotive, GeeFirm is an Amsterdam-based software firm that specialises in the professional services market. The solutions provider focuses purely on products from Google and the Google ecosystem, and is a Google for Work Partner and Reseller. Commenting on the reason for commissioning GeeFirm, Gombert says it was the combination of the firm’s approach and ERP platform (‘Zoho’), as well as the power of Google’s suite of products that proved decisive for More’s management team.

Google for Work

As part of the deal, More companies The Brandcast Company and SlagBijAlmelo will adopt GeeFirm’s Zoho solution as the core of its IT infrastructure, using the CRM/ERP package for among others business development, project management, time tracking and accounting. In addition, GeeFirm’s IT specialists will work with More to develop a range of tailored applications, building on Google’s suite of Google for Work / Zoho building blocks and other apps part of Google’s Marketplace ecosystem (e.g. Smartsheet, NMBRS and DocuSign).

The parties have agreed a phased roll-out approach. Two months ago The Brandcast Company – More’s unit that provides content marketing support – was the first to migrate to the new infrastructure, while SlagBijAlmelo – the branding and marketing arm – is the next to transition to the cloud solution. “Since go-live we have immediately seen results in terms of costs, flexibility and customer experience,” reflects Gombert. Besides slashing total costs of ownership costs by around 25% - 30%, although still a rough estimate according to Gombert, she points out that in particular the mobile-first way of working is being appreciated by the end-user base.

Jeroen Hovinga, Sales & Marketing Director at GeeFirm, says he is delighted to welcome More to the Zoho and Google Apps for Work platform, joining the likes of Axioma, Tribal and Boomerang. “By using the power of Google and our long standing expertise in the professional services arena, we are able to help More work more effectively and efficient. The platform not only supports critical processes, it also fosters (social) collaboration and makes internal operations tasks, activities regarded as tedious, a lot more fun to do.”

VOGSY solution
Looking forward, Hovinga says he expects to add a number of new players in the advisory landscape to the firm’s network. “Our Google-based solution leans itself well for small and mid-sized consulting firms that are seeking to embrace new technologies in order to gain agility and a competitive edge.” In a bid to provide professional services players, including advisories, with a further customised solution, GeeFirm is currently building a specific cloud project based ERP/PSA solution. Known as VOGSY, which is set to launch in September 2016, the ERP solution will, according to Hovinga, provide consultancies one single source of truth for all stakeholders in the value chain: professionals, project partners and customers. “In addition, VOGSY’s intuitive and social interface will enable easier and stronger engagement with customers and talent.”

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.