McConnell Dowell and the 14 Year Journey to Success

McConnell Dowell and the 14 Year Journey to Success

Interviewee: Inez Clement
Company: McConnell Dowell

Interviewee: David Shahinian
Company: Forpoint Solutions

McConnell Dowell has built thousands of iconic, landmark assets, facilities, and infrastructure around the world. When Group Finance Systems Manager, Inez Clement needed an ERP that served the entire business function end to end, she turned to Forpoint Solutions in 2010 for her Infor SunSystems solution. 14 years on and at the helm of an ever-evolving and growing construction company, we reflect on the journey and the relationship that has been built and how she warmly describes Forpoint as “My Support Friends”.

“I am not sure of the exact date, but I have been a client of Forpoint since the business was created.  That entire time I have managed our Finance Systems with regards to the IT side and the user support side.  I have used Forpoint as the support for Infor SunSystems and Vision over all of this time.”

“Way back, (previous to Forpoint) we worked directly with Infor for support and before that with SunSystems themselves. The issues we had in going direct with a large company was that we didn’t have that personal touch, responsiveness to issues, and the knowledge and understanding of our setup.” – Inez

David Shahinian, Director of Forpoint Solutions remembers McConnell Dowell as one of the first clients who started using their consulting services. Over the years McConnel Dowell went through multiple upgrades and as the business expanded, a rollout to global locations around the world.

“As technology became more complex, so did Infor SunSystems, and that was why we were brought in, to assist McConnell Dowell with the regional deployment of upgrades. Back then the internet was not fast, and not reliable, which meant customers had to deploy software in the country, and usually in the office.”- David

Over the next 8 years and across 2 projects, David and the Forpoint team were appointed the mission to upgrade from Infor SunSystems 5.2 to 5.4, then Infor SunSystems 5.4 to 6.2 across every office, in 9 countries.

“We went everywhere! NZ, Pacific Islands (Rarotonga, Samoa, Fiji), Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Manila, Jakarta… it was great experiencing the Asian Culture, but mixed in with the Australian McConnell Dowell culture. A lot of offices had ex-pats as managers who rolled out a consistent accounting approach across the APAC region. Each upgrade project roll-out took 6-9 months, and we would usually spend 2 weeks in each country. The larger offices took more time.” – David

In early 2020 as technology advanced further, and internet access improved throughout the region, McConnell Dowell went in the direction of consolidating their sites.  Again, Infor SunSystems was able to handle this requirement.  We brought in all the region databases onto a single server in Australia and went through a major upgrade of our Infor SunSystems environment, going from three servers around the world to consolidating into one server.  This involved a lot of preparation and testing to integrate the three unique servers.  Not only did it involve multiple servers, but there were also around 40 databases located across those three servers that all had to be checked and integrated.

The outcome of the consolidation brought down licensing costs and allowed McConnell Dowell to reduce the number of upgrades required to a single site.

After the consolidation project was complete, Inez came to David with a need for a solution to assist with the financial close process. BlackLine was the perfect solution and integration was seamless into their existing Infor Sunsystems product. Knowing the Forpoint team was adept at integration from system to system, the next challenge was to automate the upload of account balances from Infor SunSystems to BlackLine.

“We developed the Forpoint integration tool.  This tool allowed us to run a stored procedure that would query the database and pull out the data required for the integration. The tool would then output the data in a tab or comma-delimited format.

Lastly, we would configure the tool to upload the file to BlackLine’s SFTP site.

We could execute this process via a command line, giving the client the ability to automate the upload of GL balances from Infor SunSystems to BlackLine on a more regular frequency.” – David

Within the McConnel Dowell ecosystem of tools was their project management software Workbench. Using Infor SunSystems as their financial management system, and Workbench as their project management system, meant that master data held in Infor SunSystems had to be synchronized to Workbench, but it also meant that AP Invoicing, AR Invoicing, AR receipt data had to make its way from Workbench to Infor SunSystems.  When AP Invoice payments were made, Workbench users needed visibility on this, requiring payment data to be pushed back to Workbench.

Without the integration, the additional time and effort required to produce the data and send it to the end users, and the amount of re-keying of data would have been enormous.

So it was a call to Forpoint that initiated the build of this integration, and the outcome served to eliminate the amount of manual time. As well as this, automating the process to a daily overnight process meant that the task didn’t require data entry at all. All it required was for finance to know if the import failed and when this happened, they would investigate. Ultimately we were able to sync data each day between the systems with no manual intervention.

This process was done at all McConnel Dowell sites in the region, saving the company time and money.

“Forpoint Solutions have always been there for me to rely upon and their friendliness, responsiveness, and caring attitude have always supported our needs to find the best solution when we needed it.

When I talk about Forpoint – I refer to them as ‘My Support Friends.”

Inez Clement, Group Finance Systems Manager, McConnell Dowell

Forpoint is proudly locally owned and operated, supporting clients like Inez in Australia and New Zealand. We provide best-in-breed software solutions for the office of the CFO and are with our clients every step of the way to support and integrate solutions that transform businesses.

Infor SunSystems Annual Conference Highlights

Infor SunSystems Annual Conference Highlights

There was plenty of ‘Sun’, in Ho Chi Minh City last week as Infor SunSystems held their annual APAC Partner conference with many in attendance.  2024 was dubbed “The Year of the Product” by Andrew Newman, VP and GM of Infor SunSystems IBU, who hosted the annual event and presented SunSystems’ product goals for 2024 and beyond. Infor SunSystems has been a cornerstone product for Forpoint Solutions and our Director Bill Bryce was in attendance to bring back the highlights of what was another exciting and progressive annual conference.

Here are the key highlights from the event:

Strong adoption of Infor SunSystems Cloud

Infor SunSystems Cloud has had great success and proven traction in the market since it’s launch last year, reaching it’s 100th customer (110 by the time the conference came around). This positions Infor SunSystems steadily for further growth in the cloud market for 2024 and beyond.

New Moves in APAC

The APAC region will have more investment in the next 12 months as the cloud product drives growth in the region. With many new customers moving onto the new cloud platform, there are also existing customers moving from self-hosted to a SaaS solution. Announcement of a Sydney Data Centre to host SunSystems Cloud is due by July 2024.

Stability of the Roll Out

Like any new product, SunSystems Cloud has undoubtedly faced some teething challenges however Infor, has been quick to respond to partners and customers, allocating more resources to address these promptly with stability as a high priority.

Features & Functions

Each year, there will be two major releases with new features and functions, scheduled for April and October. These will be additional features included in the core system to continually enhance functionality and respond to the end user requirements.

What’s the development focus?

Naturally, given the move to cloud (SaaS), these updates will happen automatically as the main focus for Infor SunSystems, due to the ability to implement to users easily and quickly.

Integrations to 3rd party systems

An application needs to be able to connect to other solutions in order to thrive in the cloud, and Infor SunSystems Cloud is no exception. Since SunSystems has long served as a “hub” for financial transactions that originate in other applications, Infor has acknowledged the need to enhance the APIs and is currently including updates specifically to address external systems such as AP Automation, Purchase to Pay and Expense Management solutions, to name a few.

 

Data Storage for Infor

Accessing your Infor SunSystems data in the cloud for retrieving information from the Infor Datalake, (a component of the Infor OS) will be included in upcoming releases, which will greatly facilitate its consumption by corporate data warehouses and visualisation by business intelligence tools such as EPM or Microsoft Power BI.

The User Experience Enhancements

In order to improve user acquisition, the capability to have reporting dashboards, KPIs, and custom widgets is being implemented. This will make the user experience more personalised and educational overall.

The Wrap Up:

Overall the Infor team have made enormous progress with the cloud version of SunSystems and it is a viable option for Customers to move their SunSystems “on premise” to the cloud with enhanced useability and rich features now available across the finance spectrum.  ……