After over 160 years in business, building merchant CARTERS has grown to cover every corner of New Zealand with 50 branches throughout the country. The CARTERS business consists of teams working in local branch stores, with mobile account managers servicing trade customers building residential homes and commercial projects.
Often a job begins with a builder sending a series of plans to CARTERS to use to estimate and detail the building requirements. CARTERS realised its processes had not grown to match the workload undertaken on a daily basis in this space, mainly managed via a paper-based system that took too long to administer. This meant account managers were doing paperwork instead of talking to their customers.
“We had a very large process involving multiple teams which was very complex with people based in different locations. People who weren’t in the same location as other teams didn’t have visibility of what was going on,” Mike Lambert, CARTERS IT Manager.
CARTERS approached Datacom to tackle this mammoth mountain of a problem and Project K2 was born.
“We discovered a huge amount of paper in the process that could involve anywhere up to 23 people end-to-end. Anything could go wrong,” says Datacom’s practice manager Andre van Tonder.
The goal of the project was to implement a single application to replace the paper-based systems that didn’t talk to each other, and enable all staff to see a single source of the truth when it comes to a build project or customer manufacturing order.
“The whole intention of the project was to create one place to work. There’s one hub. Everything from plans to estimates to customer-specific pricing in one system,” says Mike.
All the information is now stored digitally and the company’s systems are integrated so staff sign in once and have full access. No more re-keying of information, no more paper, and no more internal mailbags.
“After the project we had really good feedback from the account managers. Out in the field, on a building site, with the customer, they could access all the information they needed. The plan, changes to the plan, pricing, any customer-specific instructions, it was all there, in K2 as the one source of the truth”
Jonathan Iles, chief information officer, Carter Holt Harvey.
But Project K2 wasn’t just about taking a current-state and digitising it. While staff appreciated the single sign-on, the up-to-date information and the reduction in paperwork, head office could finally understand customer needs, the ebb and flow of building projects and could optimise the business to give a better customer outcome and gain efficiencies throughout the business.