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Founded in 1958 by two brothers, the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group is one of the largest and most well-respected family company names in the UAE. The management of the Group’s companies is undertaken by Al Naboodah Group Enterprises (ANGE).

Employing over 15,000 people and almost 50 nationalities, the ANGE business is comprised of 15 companies covering civil engineering, building and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP), as well as representing a diverse portfolio of global brands in the transportation, travel, logistics, electrical, solar and fit-out arenas.

Previously, no ‘one version of the truth’

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are vital to the streamlined operation of modern enterprises, particularly as they automate manual processes and ensure availability of accurate, real-time information across all departments and business units. In 2007, ANGE implemented an ERP solution within its construction division and based on the positive business impact, over the next few years, other business units also decided to invest in the same ERP solution to improve operations. As a result of these decisions being driven entirely by the business units, by 2015, ANGE ended up with three standalone ERP platforms from the same vendor, each with different versions, different workflows and levels of customisation, across the 15 Group companies.

From a Group IT perspective, integrating these ERP platforms with other Group applications, and managing and regularly upgrading these three disparate systems, was not easy and required a significant investment both in terms of manpower and costs for licencing and support. This hampered their ability to focus on more strategic business processes and applications that were critical to the Group’s growth. From a Group management perspective, lack of visibility across all business units and the associated unavailability of accurate, real-time information not only impacted decision making but also did not align with their vision for how the company should be run.

Sharing an example of the challenges his team faced with this disparate ERP System, Mario Foster, Group Chief Information Officer at ANGE said, “If the management team wanted to know our accounts receivable across the Group from a specific customer, it would take us roughly two days to get a full picture, as we had to pull information from three different systems, make sure they were reconciled and then add them all up to get the final figure. As you can imagine, this introduced unnecessary complexity which severely impacted our ability to make good and quick business decisions.”

Processes that were once separated are now linked, allowing us to eliminate ‘islands of data’ and deliver true shared services for procurement, finance, and HR. This has enabled us to optimise resources, improve efficiency and productivity by maximising our synergies, reduce costs and make better and quicker business decisions to positively impact our bottom line.

“Also, to help us execute on our commitment to quality customer service and customer engagement, the management team mandated that we institute a robust governance structure and standardise processes and policies across all business units. From a Group IT perspective, the business decided to create a shared services division where we could run the back-office functions for finance, human resources (HR) and procurement to support operations across all 15 business units, on one platform. After doing our due diligence, we concluded that the existing ERP solution was not a good fit for this,” added Mario, explaining one of the key drivers behind the decision to replace their existing ERP System.

Epicor Kinetic fits ANGE business needs

With the full backing of the IT Steering Committee team, Mario and his team began the process of finding a new ERP solution to serve as the backbone of the business. After an extensive six months of research, which included an evaluation of solutions from five leading ERP vendors as well as an independent assessment by one of the ‘Big Four’ consultancies, the ANGE executive management team approved the decision to implement Epicor Kinetic across all Group companies. The decision was made after the relevant business teams were introduced to the Epicor solution, and fully evaluated and approved it.

Explaining this choice, Mario said, “Given the variety of business lines we run, it was impossible to find one ERP system that 100% fits all the industries we operate in, hence we needed an ERP solution that has the capabilities and flexibility to natively fit our core business areas while fitting the rest of businesses with some limited customisations. The primary reason for choosing Epicor Kinetic was that the system not only meets current business needs but can flexibly scale as the business expands and changes. Epicor works on a building block approach that gives us the choice to easily add or enable modules as and when required. Similarly, its concurrent licensing model enables us to operate our ERP system at a much lower cost, particularly when compared to our previous vendor.”

“Another deciding factor was that Epicor Kinetic is built on the .NET platform, using SQL database, which is in line with our internal Group IT technical standards, making it a perfect fit in our overall IT infrastructure and very easy for us to interface with other third-party applications. This gives us the ability to consolidate all our solutions into one reporting portal and ERP platform,” he continued.

For five years now, we have regularly upgraded our Epicor solution to the latest version, thereby ensuring we always have access to the latest features and functionality. It followed logically then that when we found need for an ECM solution, Epicor was the right vendor to cater to our needs. Their ECM solution has enabled us to streamline workflows across our group of companies, with the benefit of highly effective automation. Moreover, by enabling the full digitalisation of content, Epicor ECM enables us to strongly align with the UAE government’s vision for a paperless working environment and more sustainable operations.

Working directly with Epicor consulting services, and a cross functional internal team that included the Group CEO as project sponsor and C-level executives from each functional group, ANGE implemented Epicor Kinetic across the entire organisation in two phases. “When determining how best to rollout the solution, we decided to take an ‘employee first’ strategy and to that end, began by implementing the Epicor human capital management (HCM) and payroll modules. In parallel, we introduced the reporting functionality so that all associates could immediately start using the rich reporting capabilities to make better business decisions. In phase two, we implemented the rest of the modules for finance, supply chain management, service management, and Epicor Knowledge Mentor (EKM) for employee training,” commented Mario.

One integrated platform and source of information

ANGE has approximately 500 ERP users across 15 diverse business units — from construction and commercial vehicles to travel, tourism, electrical, agriculture and auto dealerships — now using one integrated, easy-to-use ERP platform to conduct a majority of their day-to-day tasks. The most valuable benefit is the ability for Mario and his Group IT team to implement a robust governance structure, build strict change control, approval and risk management workflows directly into the system, and simplify and standardise processes across the entire organisation as much as possible.

“Processes that were once separated are now linked, allowing us to eliminate ‘islands of data’ and deliver true shared services for procurement, finance, and HR. This has enabled us to optimise resources, improve efficiency and productivity by maximising our synergies, reduce costs and make better and quicker business decisions to positively impact our bottom line,” explained Mario. “For example, having one view of all our vendors across the 15 business units means it is now much easier for our procurement team to leverage economies of scale and negotiate better pricing and payment terms. On the customer side, we can easily pull up all customer history, irrespective of which business units they are dealing with. This allows us to quickly assess our risk exposure and set credit limits and service levels.”

“Having an end-to-end HCM system means that we can now better serve our most important customers — our employees. With a transparent, standardised online HR database, our employees, for the first time, know exactly what information HR has about them. Also, rather than having to personally visit, make a call or send an email to an HR representative to address their queries around leave, benefits, or work permit status, they can now easily access this information via a self-service portal (Employee Self Service– ESS). This not only enhances employee satisfaction but also frees up HR to focus on core functions such as employee recruitment and retention,” continued Mario.

Given our organisations’ size and diversity of operations, this was no small task, but with full commitment from all internal stakeholders and Epicor, the project was delivered on time. Now, after we have completed several system and reports fine tuning here and there, with every associate from the salesperson in one of our car dealerships to the foreman at one of our construction sites, relying on Epicor Kinetic to make critical business decisions, I am confident that we finally have the platform we need to execute on our vision of being the employer and business partner of choice, both in the UAE and beyond.

Having successfully run Epicor Kinetic for over half a decade, Mario and his team built on their success with the vendor by also implementing Epicor Enterprise Content Management (ECM) in 2019. “For five years now, we have regularly upgraded our Epicor solution to the latest version, thereby ensuring we always have access to the latest features and functionality. It followed logically then that when we found need for an ECM solution, Epicor was the right vendor to cater to our needs. Their ECM solution has enabled us to streamline workflows across our group of companies, with the benefit of highly effective automation. Moreover, by enabling the full digitalisation of content, Epicor ECM enables us to strongly align with the UAE government’s vision for a paperless working environment and more sustainable operations,” said Mario.

Platform for growth

“When we finalised setting up the ANGE management team in 2016, it became quickly apparent that if we wanted to take advantage of new opportunities and grow, we needed a new business structure, anchored by a dynamic, flexible, scalable, integrated ERP solution,” commented Swaidan Al Naboodah, Managing Director, ANGE.

“Given our organisations’ size and diversity of operations, this was no small task, but with full commitment from all internal stakeholders and Epicor, the project was delivered on time. Now, after we have completed several system and reports fine tuning here and there, with every associate from the salesperson in one of our car dealerships to the foreman at one of our construction sites, relying on Epicor Kinetic to make critical business decisions, I am confident that we finally have the platform we need to execute on our vision of being the employer and business partner of choice, both in the UAE and beyond,” concluded Swaidan.

Adding how the company is already exploring ways to extend its successful partnership with Epicor, Mario said, “As a leading conglomerate, we have an established track record of leveraging the latest technologies to gain and maintain a competitive edge. Cloud computing represents such a technology, and we were engaging with Epicor to explore the possibility of incorporating Epicor Kinetic deployed in the cloud into our future IT roadmap.”

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Company Facts

  • Location: United Arab Emirates
  • Specialist Industry: Civil Engineering, Building, Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP), Automotive, Tyres, Commercial Vehicles, Heavy Equipment, Electrical, Agriculture, and Fit-out
  • Website: www.alnaboodah.com

Challenges

  • Lack of one single integrated system across all Group companies, and absence of consistent real-time information, hampered strategic business decision making
  • High degree of heavy customisation in legacy ERP system within the commercial division of the Group prevented business from standardising processes and incorporating best practices and prevented IT from upgrading system without fully re-implementing the system
  • Solution architecture was not scalable which made it very difficult to integrate the mission-critical ERP system with rest of Group’s applications
  • The Group was looking at ERP cost cutting options

Benefits

  • One uniform ERP solution across all major Group companies has enabled a shared service in support of management’s ‘one company with one integrated system’ vision
  • Running all key business processes from within Epicor Kinetic enables the IT team to rationalise third party applications and realise cost savings
  • The fit and scalability of Epicor Kinetic makes it possible to easily add or enable modules and licenses to support the Group’s business requirements and growth plans
  • The benefit of having an ERP system with a concurrent user licensing model was a plus for the Group

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