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"A Partnership Approach"
That was the question that management at Pat Munro (Alness) Ltd found themselves asking as they sought out new ways to streamline their operations and bring the business up-to-date with the latest technology.
Employing over 200 people and having four main construction strings to their bow – construction and utility work, quarry products and servicing, home sales, and waste disposal services – the firm had a series of complex systems and processes that needed to be reviewed, deduplicated and digitised.
“ITP Solutions put in our very first computer management and accounting systems, 25-30 years ago,” said Brian Munro, managing director of Pat Munro. “Since the very beginning, our relationship with ITP has been a partnership. Their strength really lies in the way they are able to sit down and understand what we do and what our processes are. “The whole process is very collaborative, and at this point Kirsty and her team know as much about the way we operate as I do!”
Working closely with the team at Pat Munro, ITP Solutions has identified a number of areas for improvement over the years – enabling the firm to bring its operations and procedures online.
Acting as project manager, software developer and IT support provider, the team at ITP has overseen the widespread digitisation of Pat Munro’s systems.
This has included the implementation of product management systems for quarry and waste management products; sales management software for Pat Munro’s waste division; and a CRM platform for the firm’s home sales – as well as bringing its invoicing into the cloud, and Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams integration.
“The team at ITP has always taken the time to properly understand our operational processes, and look for solutions to digitise them somehow,” said Brian.
“Other IT providers come in and sell only the products they have franchises with, but ITP really hones in on what it is we want to do and finds the best software solutions on the market. “Where we use off-the-shelf software, ITP works with us to design custom interfaces – allowing our team to use each system in the way that we need to.”
Brian Munro, Pat Munro Ltd
Instead of the team at Pat Munro having to adapt processes to fit the restrictions of software packages, ITP has developed custom interfaces that make the software work for them. This reduces the learning curve as different programmes become standardised across the company, and allows Pat Munro a great deal of flexibility.
Brian continued: “ITP designs a lot of our software to replicate our old paper processes – meaning it’s easy for our staff to quickly get to grips with new systems. “If you go for off-the-shelf software, it’s impossible to replicate the way you might have done something on paper. But ITP is able to help us personalise each system to work in the way we need it to.
“Not only that, but we can empower our staff as they see their suggestions being implemented quickly. If senior management requests a custom field in our purchase order system, ITP can add it almost overnight – whereas, with an off-the-shelf system, we might have to wait months and only get an update if enough users had requested it.”
ITP Solutions views each project as a long-term partnership, taking the time to gain intimate knowledge of each client’s operations to really get to the bottom of what their operational issues are. It’s an approach that Brian appreciates.
He said: “The ability for IT people to come in and understand real time processes is really unusual. That can’t be understated. “Most IT people don’t really follow why we do what we do when we make and sell concrete. Just as we don’t know all the information an IT company might need when sourcing or building a piece of software.
“That’s why ITP is different. Kirsty and her team come in and actually build the project specification with us – taking a real interest in what we do, and applying their IT knowledge to the project. “They ask us lots of questions about things we never think about, ironing out all the creases during the specification so the build and implementation all goes smoothly. We go through as many scenarios as we can, so there are no surprises.”
“Kirsty and the team have always been really interested in our business,” said Brian. “They have always shown an interest in what we do and how we do it; and that allows them to spot potential areas of improvement we haven’t even thought about. “I have a massive degree of trust in ITP and the team has never let me down. It’s been a continual evolutionary process, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.”