I’m the Chief Information Officer at Conplant. We have a tight Information Communications Technology & Systems (ICTS) team which I head up.
We provide the systems and technology infrastructure so that everyone can do their jobs – logging customer communications, managing the hires that we have out with customers on site and the machines we sell.
Internally, we provide the intelligence required for decision-making; for example, how many machines are being utilised, how many more do we need of that type, financial information, etc.
Someone like Dary, for example, is able to predict and schedule services… we write the systems that enable him to make those decisions. On the customer side, we help them get access to invoices and information on where their machines are being used. They can log in to our web site and get invoices, statements, hire machines and purchase parts.
Everyone here knows their stuff very well – they’ve got first-hand, immediate experience and intelligence they employ on a day-to-day basis. The gap was that sometimes that information was localised – that is, in a person’s head and not recorded anywhere, or stuck on a spreadsheet or in someone’s inbox. Now, we’ve developed our own ERP system, called ConGo ERP, where we can capture information so that it’s available to everyone in the business. It’s completely transparent, visible, real-time and enables everyone in the business to see what’s going on wherever they are. Conplant already had very good processes, so it didn’t make sense to get an off-the-shelf system or technology that would make us change how we work. We’d rather capture what we’re already doing, which we have developed and proven as best practice.
Most ERP systems can be pretty complicated. Anyone that’s used one will know they sometimes have a steep learning curve. Our approach and philosophy has always been to make it easily accessible and available to people as they work throughout the day.
So rather than have people conform to the system, we created our own system to accommodate how our people work. We take the complexity out of the day-to-day – where you might enter data through multiple spreadsheets or documents – and shift the burden away from the user and onto the system. And of course, we try and make it all as intuitive as possible.
I have a finance and IT background; I’ve had 20+ years experience in both. I graduated from Victoria University Melbourne and I worked at an array of different companies, lived and worked in India for two years and now I’m using my finance knowledge to create IT systems that are better suited for our industry and market.
Everyone was doing what they were doing well, but there was an absence of sophisticated IT systems that could support management decision-making. I saw there was an opportunity for Conplant. I’ve worked with a lot of accounting and finance software, and most of it feels like it was made for finance people by finance people. It lacked a human element. We had an opportunity to take what was already out there but make it a little more tailored to our industry, so we could get better and more relevent information.
In my role, I love that one moment I can have conversations with the leadership and executive team and talk about strategic matters, and the next moment I’m talking to someone on the front line who has a very day-to-day issue. I can go from strategic to operations without any kind of limitation.
Having a flat structure means we can go directly to the source of the issue or the objective and just take care of it without inefficiencies or laborious processes that don’t add any value.
I think the lines between technology and traditional business have merged. There’s no difference between traditional business information and the information that’s now provided through technology. This is just how businesses work now.
Rather than leaving things to ‘gut feel’ or personality-based insight alone, we combined evidence-based insight which can better inform the people on the front line, as well as management, to be able to serve our customers better – and that’s the most important thing!