ERP Transformation of the Year - Winners

ERP Transformation of the Year Winner

City Dynamics were nominated and have made it as the winner for the 2023 ERP Transformation of the Year Awards.

Read our entry below

BLUE MARINE FOUNDATION Submission for ERP Today Awards 2023

Blue Marine Foundation (Blue Marine) is a marine conservation charity dedicated to restoring the oceans by creating marine reserves, tackling overfishing, restoring habitats, and developing models of sustainable fishing. The ocean plays a critical role in combatting climate change, so the need for ocean protection and restoration has never been more urgent. Blue Marine’s success arises from being bold and agile. With 85-90 pence in every pound going towards their charitable activities, Blue Marine runs a lean operation; upholding this lean structure is integral to maintaining their agility, allowing them to react promptly to emerging opportunities as they grow.

In 2018, Blue Marine had 15 staff members and was overseeing expenditure on around 20 projects. With a single in-house finance team member, the organisation efficiently used Xero as their accounting system.

 

Historically, management information was disseminated via manual Microsoft Excel reports, providing valuable insights to colleagues. However, the method had limitations, in particular, custom budget lines to handle specific combinations of funders and projects. This information is crucial for project managers and fundraising teams to engage with their budgets effectively; but, because it had to be added at the reporting stage rather than during data entry, critical information had to be assigned to transactions outside the accounting system, necessitating manual creation and updates of reports before sharing.

 

While this system worked well in Blue Marine’s early days, by the end of 2021 the number of projects and funders being tracked and reported via Excel became unmanageable. Despite hiring an assistant accountant, the process of producing reports for nearly 40 separate projects was taking two weeks every month, leading to delayed and error-prone reports. To manage the workload, some budgets were pushed out to quarterly reporting, which was not efficient for Blue Marine’s fast-paced operations. Furthermore, compiling and verifying data for senior management and the board required an additional full week.

 

Recognising the need to enhance their lean and efficient operation and accommodate their growth, the CFO focused on automation and system integration to overcome the stall in management information flow and stay ahead of their expanding operations.


Blue Marine conducted a feasibility study and selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central as their new finance system and City Dynamics as the implementation partner. The close working relationship and in-person meetings with City Dynamics helped build a strong partnership from the outset. Blue Marine signed as a new customer in December 2021 and went live on Dynamics at the beginning of their new financial year in April 2022, avoiding the need to run two systems in the year. City Dynamics worked within the ambitious timeframe and prioritised necessary areas for the go-live, with continuous development planned for subsequent months. They implemented Project Budget reporting in Power BI, providing a suite of reports for various stakeholders, including the fundraising team and the Board of Trustees.

 

The adoption of Business Central and Power BI significantly improved Blue Marine’s operational efficiency and decision-making speed. Previously, it took two people two weeks each month to prepare reports; whereas now, the system enables live reporting without intervention, allowing the finance team to focus on value-add work. The project payback period was nine months due to saved report production time.

 

Moreover, the implementation enabled a continuous accounting model, with data appearing in reports within a week of the transaction taking place. This empowered project managers with up-to-date and relevant information, facilitating agile decision-making and prompt reaction to time-sensitive conservation opportunities. Blue Marine’s improved efficiency and speedy access to accurate budget information set them apart from other organisations that are just not able to respond as quickly.

Blue Marine’s vital mission is to restore of heath of our oceans, which function as the world’s largest carbon sink. They are deserving winners of this award, as this project has delivered exceptional improvements in their operational efficiency and decision-making, empowering the charity’s work towards tackling the climate crisis.

By transforming the quality and speed of project information at their disposal, Blue Marine’s project managers can now act decisively when presented with an opportunity to help restore the world’s oceans.

 

A remarkable example of the project’s impact was demonstrated when a recreational diver discovered an egg case of the critically endangered Flapper Skate off Scotland’s coast. Equipped with real-time access to accurate financial information, the project manager reacted immediately, deploying a team of divers to capture essential video evidence and measurements for site protection. Within a week over 100 rare egg cases were documented, instrumental in persuading Marine Scotland to implement a trawling and dredging ban; safeguarding the site and supporting the hatching of over 100 critically endangered Flapper Skates in Scottish waters.

 

Historically, Blue Marine’s success has stemmed from their bold and agile approach. They have always maintained a lean structure which provided a framework for their agile operations, allowing them to react promptly to emerging opportunities as they grow. However, by the end of 2021, the volume of projects and funders was rapidly growing to become unmanageable using their current systems and processes.

 

Before the partnership with City Dynamics, report preparation was a time-intensive task that required two people to dedicate two weeks each month, but still, data presented was potentially six weeks old. This time-consuming process meant Finance were reactive to the business, as they were spending vast amounts of time entering data and producing reports. However, the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics has enabled rapid real-time accounting, significantly elevating finance into a value-add function.  The reporting time saved each month has paid for the project in under nine months.

 

This tremendous improvement in operational efficiency has not only streamlined internal processes but has also empowered the finance team to provide outward-facing support to the organisation. The CFO and her team, armed with live and relevant information, now collaborate more closely with the fundraising and project teams, allowing Blue Marine to respond swiftly to time-sensitive conservation opportunities. This agile approach has proven critical in making timely decisions, supporting the protection of marine habitats, and driving significant positive impact on the oceans and the planet.

If you see news reports of a giant 2.5m Skate off the coast of Scotland making a comeback from endangered status, there’s a good chance that Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power BI played an important part in that recovery!

These achievements highlight the profound social and environmental impact of Blue Marine’s ERP transformation, making them deserving recipients of the ERP Transformation of the Year award.

If you see news reports of a giant 2.5m Skate off the coast of Scotland making a comeback from endangered status, the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power BI at Blue Marine played an important part in that recovery!

Blue Marine’s vital mission is to restore of heath of our oceans, which function as the world’s largest carbon sink. They are deserving winners of this award, as this project has delivered exceptional improvements in their operational efficiency and decision-making, empowering the charity’s work towards tackling the climate crisis.

By transforming the quality and speed of project information at their disposal, Blue Marine’s project managers can now act decisively when presented with an opportunity to help restore the world’s oceans.

 

A remarkable example of the project’s impact was demonstrated when a recreational diver discovered an egg case of the critically endangered Flapper Skate off Scotland’s coast. Equipped with real-time access to accurate financial information, the project manager reacted immediately, deploying a team of divers to capture essential video evidence and measurements for site protection. Within a week over 100 rare egg cases were documented, instrumental in persuading Marine Scotland to implement a trawling and dredging ban; safeguarding the site and supporting the hatching of over 100 critically endangered Flapper Skates in Scottish waters.

 

Historically, Blue Marine’s success has stemmed from their bold and agile approach. They have always maintained a lean structure which provided a framework for their agile operations, allowing them to react promptly to emerging opportunities as they grow. However, by the end of 2021, the volume of projects and funders was rapidly growing to become unmanageable using their current systems and processes.

 

Before the partnership with City Dynamics, report preparation was a time-intensive task that required two people to dedicate two weeks each month, but still, data presented was potentially six weeks old. This time-consuming process meant Finance were reactive to the business, as they were spending vast amounts of time entering data and producing reports. However, the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics has enabled rapid real-time accounting, significantly elevating finance into a value-add function.  The reporting time saved each month has paid for the project in under nine months.

 

This tremendous improvement in operational efficiency has not only streamlined internal processes but has also empowered the finance team to provide outward-facing support to the organisation. The CFO and her team, armed with live and relevant information, now collaborate more closely with the fundraising and project teams, allowing Blue Marine to respond swiftly to time-sensitive conservation opportunities. This agile approach has proven critical in making timely decisions, supporting the protection of marine habitats, and driving significant positive impact on the oceans and the planet.

 

These achievements highlight the profound social and environmental impact of Blue Marine’s ERP transformation, making them deserving recipients of the ERP Transformation of the Year award.

 

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