Business Central provides a positive outlook for Gippsland Lakes Complete Health
Regional healthcare provider, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health (GLCH), provides services that span medical practices, allied health, children’s services, aged care, home care, disability services, NDIS and family and youth care. Having doubled their size over the past decade, GLCH’s outdated legacy business management system could not keep up with the pace of growth. With a number of disparate systems across each service requiring manual processing for integration to its financials, GLCH began looking for a system that would automate a lot of their processes and enable them to continue to grow, expand and make lasting, positive impact for their community. Chloe Watson, Finance Manager and Joanne Jones, Finance Officer, explain why they chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, implemented by Evolution Business Systems.
There were three main areas that Gippsland Lakes Complete Health identified as needing to be overhauled: reducing manual processing; reporting for stakeholders and improved customer service regarding payments.
GLCH had been using Dynamics AX for over 10 years. As their growth and expansion into additional health services grew, it became more and more apparent that their system could not keep up with the volumes. “When I started in 2011, our turnover was about $15-16 million – this year it will be closer to $40 million. Our systems just weren’t keeping up with that growth, due to all the manual processes. When you double your volume, obviously time becomes a factor,” said Ms Watson.
With the additional growth of the organisation came the complexities of integrating multiple disparate systems from a variety of services into the finance system. As the organisation grew, they found noticeable limitations with AX, as it couldn’t import everything they required, increasing the number of invoices that were manually processed by their team. Manual reporting was also causing frustration Ms Watson explained, “A lot of our reporting was all manual, and we had a range of processes to get our month end reports completed. It was just not sustainable with our increased workload to keep that system, so we were looking for a system that was going to enable us to grow and automate the processes that were manual.”
“One of the biggest selling points, and why we chose EBS was the customer relations side of things. They really go to that extra level to make sure customers are informed and that customer relationship is positive with activities like the user group meetings. Everyone’s always touching base.”
Ms Watson highlighted that the process of reporting to the board involved printing paper copies of reports out of AX, then manually entering them in Excel. “It was a massive, fifty-tab spreadsheet. To get our Board reports together would take days. It was a frustration of the Board, that if figures moved or changed, it wasn’t an instant process just to update reports. It was a big long-winded process, and with those manual processes it was really open to error.”
From the customer perspective, AX didn’t have the capabilities for BPay which was something that customers expected. “Our old invoices and statements were hard to read and they weren’t user friendly. Our customers were saying, ‘We don’t like the information we’re getting. We don’t like the payment options. It’s not working for us.’ BPay has been around forever and a day, so the lack of payment options was the frustration of our customers. It was either Direct bank transfer into our bank account, in-person payments at the front counter, or mail a cheque.”
GLCH went through a long and detailed selection process, starting with Expressions of Interest and from there, the Board decided to go to a full tender process. “The Board really wanted to make sure they had everything ticked and crossed off before they would sign off on a solution.”
“Our biggest requirements were the automated reporting and the reduction of the manual processes; payment options and integration; and the flexibility to grow with the organisation. We needed a system that could handle our setup as we are so varied in what we deliver. It needed to be a system that would be able to be flexible and adapt to the way we work.” Ms Watson said.
“We spent a lot of time before we had chosen a product, discussing internally about processes, talking about how we wanted things to work. We didn’t know how a system was going to do it, but we knew how we wanted things to look and work. So we had a good understanding of that in our heads before we went into the process and I think that helped.”
EBS were invited to tender for the job in August 2019. Ms Watson said, “We’d spoken to a few organisations that had done implementations with EBS and we really liked the way EBS have done business.”
“I think their customer focus really aligns with ours. Obviously, we’re a not for profit community organisation. Our biggest concern is our clients, and our customers. I think that aligns well with EBS as that’s their focus as well, supporting clients and customers. I can see that being very similar to Gippsland Lakes Complete Health.”
Ms Watson explained that GLCH prepared for the implementation process by taking herself and Ms Jones out of the day-to-day finance team to focus solely on the implementation, “The organisation had learned from prior, big projects, that having a staff member to manage it on top of their day to day work just doesn’t work.”
Ms Jones concurred, “Having a dedicated team for implementation was crucial, I just cannot imagine having to do the implementation and work a full-time job as well.
Having dedicated people, if you’ve got the liberty to do that, to take them out, you deliver and focus, and get the best out of what you’re aiming for. I think that was probably a key element to the success of the project.”
“We were pretty lucky with the team, there wasn’t anyone that was really resistant to change. They were really excited to see a new system and to see potential improvements, because they were over all the manual processes too,” said Ms Watson.
Ms Jones agreed, “I think also having enough insight as to the possibilities to come out of the product, had everyone’s excitement up. We were all looking forward to it because we could see that there was going to be some good efficiencies, new processes and changes that were going to be good for all of us.”
Ms Watson explained that the implementation was a smooth one, with clear steps as part of the configuration and implementation with weekly milestones in place. “We knew where we needed to get to: here’s the template, let’s work through it, then on to the next thing. So generally speaking, it hasn’t been stressful at all. It’s been a well-planned out, organised process. I think we were clear what we needed to do. EBS were clear what they needed to deliver. And we all just worked through what we needed to get done. We are very happy with the process, it’s been a positive experience.”
“We could not speak more highly of the consultants, they have been amazing! There’s nothing that we’ve asked for that they’ve balked at or said, ‘No, can’t do that’. There’s probably a few times that they’ve said, ‘Why would you want that?’ But they’ve persisted with it and worked out the solution for us. They’ve been so responsive, and very helpful with an amazing ‘can do’ attitude.”
“One of the biggest selling points, and why we chose EBS was the customer relations side of things. They really go to that extra level to make sure customers are informed and that customer relationship is positive with activities like the user group meetings. Everyone’s always touching base. We went to a user group meeting prior to signing up, and we could see how invested EBS were. As a new customer, they weren’t just selling us a product but making sure that they have customer satisfaction. And that was really evident in the implementation process.” Said Ms Watson.
The outcome: The results and benefits following implementation
Gippsland Lakes Complete Health went live with Dynamics 365 Business Central in March 2020 and in the first month of working in the system have seen benefits that they can tell will be cumulative over the coming months. “We’ve only had one month in operation and so far, we’re just about to finalise the second month of processing. I would say in the first month, which was a trial and error process, there was probably 50% reduction in the time that it was taking to do transaction processing,” said Ms Jones. Areas that the organisation has found efficiencies where they hadn’t expected, was through EBS’s ongoing support and development of integrations and processes. Ms Jones explained, “We’ve got our provider payments all being uploaded, which was something that we thought it’d be good to be able to do, but didn’t know if it could be done. However, it wasn’t until the consultants understood what we were trying to achieve and said, ‘We can do that.’ It’s been a big saving – more than 250 lines in a journal a month, all previously having to be keyed manually. We didn’t know that was going to be achievable.”
To improve customer payments, GLCH chose Ezidebit, to set up direct debit, and BPay for emailed invoices coupled with payment links. “So now customers can click on the link and it takes them to the payment options. A lot of our clients are using that and it’s been really well utilised already.” explained Ms Watson.
“The first invoices that went out of Business Central were day 3 and 4 of the month, and the very next day we had people paying by BPay or Ezidebit. So, straight off the bat, they were using it. Currently 38% of invoices are emailed and even at that rate it saves us printing, folding, putting in envelopes, and postage, so it’s still a big saving. We’re getting an increasing number of invoices and statements emailed. That’s going to be an ongoing efficiency.”
Ms Watson highlighted the reporting process saying, “The feedback from the finance team is they love it. There’s six units that we’re running reports for. Instead of sitting there for two days entering things into Excel spreadsheets and then realizing something’s wrong, and then having to run reports, make adjustments, and do it again. It literally took, half an hour to get reports out, which was amazing. They were so excited when they were running their reports and they looked professional, it was awesome.
“We had our executive management team receive their first reports for month end and they were all rapt and excited. They were happy with how they were presented and easy to understand. On the reporting side, we’re really happy with that, so big efficiencies there.”
In the first month, the team at GLCH have been on a steep learning curve and they can see that as they become more familiar with the system they will become more and more efficient in the processes. “One thing we were sceptical on, was when we couldn’t have the consultants onsite for ‘Go Live’ due to COVID-19 restrictions. We were worried this was going to be a risk to us, but we all survived, and that’s due to EBS’s support at the other end and our tenacity to making the best of the situation. It also is testament to the product: I hadn’t had a lot of exposure to it, our main experience was through UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and we’ve really been able to pick it up and run with most processes” praised Ms Jones.
Ms Watson said, “Our accounts receivable officer that predominately manages that area has definitely noticed time savings in her role. Prior to Business Central, she was really struggling to keep up with the workload. It wasn’t even a month in, and she commented that she was starting to catch up, which we wouldn’t have thought we’d see efficiencies and time savings that quickly, especially when we’re still getting used to the system. Everything’s probably a bit slower now that we when you learn new processes, but I have definitely noticed some AR efficiencies, the reporting side and hopefully with AP and the bank management we’ll see more efficiencies in processes as we go along.”
“The benefit of having a system that is more efficient, means we’re not trying to pump through the volume anymore. We’ve got time to make contact and find out what’s going on to get the payment, because ultimately that’s finance’s role, but also connecting those clients into other services where needed makes a big difference in their day-to-day lives.”
The Impact: Finance pays it forward to the community
Ms. Watson explained that the flow-on effect of the efficiency gains and time savings in the Accounts Receivable has resulted in more time to deal with clients, becoming more proactive with the follow up of outstanding debts as they occur. Now have the team has time to make phone calls early on, to see if there are any issues such as, an invoice wasn’t received due to change of details, financial hardship issues, or other issues impacting the clients’ ability to pay:
“Now we have the time to make proactive contact. A client may be on the pension and are finding it difficult to pay. We can take the time to work through solutions for them – referring them onto other services where they can access some support, or they are referred onto home care packages. They might be eligible for a government funded package, to pick up those costs to keep them in their home. That is the goal as the quality-of-life benefits are better, and this supports our mission.
“We can directly link people to other areas to access emergency relief funds. If someone’s car has broken down and that has impacted their capacity to pay their finance bill for home care services, we can refer them onto emergency assistance to pick up their bills temporarily if they are in financial hardship, so they can catchup and get back on track.
“The goal is linking people into services early before they get to the point that their home care services are going to be cancelled because they haven’t paid. It makes a huge difference in an elderly person’s life if they can’t get domestic help, personal care or help with meal preparation. Especially if they don’t have someone else to help them. In many cases, our home care staff will be the only person that the elderly person will see all week, which is so important for social interaction and general wellbeing.”