Case Study: We hear from a NetSuite customer who had the definition of a hairball and was the opposite of cloud
Five years ago, a Bristol-based medical equipment manufacturer was the self-confessed “opposite of cloud”, spending thousands on a legacy IT system that had become a hairball following the acquisition of three different companies.
P3 Medical, which not only makes operating theatre equipment but also distributes the equipment, was facing rapid change in the way businesses operated because of the cloud, and how it sold its equipment.
But after one of the investors in the company recommended NetSuite, P3 told TechWeekEurope the move was an obvious “no-brainer”.
Sitting down with Simon Talbot at NetSuite’s annual San Jose summit, P3’s managing director said: “We do every flavour of business, so for a small company it’s about as complex as you can get. We have £6 million in sales and 80 employees.
“We didn’t know the phrase hairball at the time but if you wanted a definition of a hairball we were it. The core ERP wasn’t good. My predecessors had built a complex structure of offline [systems]. We couldn’t invest in an IT team in terms of people because we’re all owner and managers. The IT structure was complex, we had two sites and remote users, and we obviously needed a channel for customers.
“From a hardware point of view we were looking at big investments. We didn’t know the term ‘cloud’ at the time. But we did know that we could have always on, always available systems on the net, and that for us meant very little infrastructure.”
Talbot told TechWeekEurope that since 2010, P3 has saved in excess of £75,000 through not having to use legacy hardware, and around £50,000 in streamlining administration costs.
Talbot said that NetSuite helps P3 with its financials, inventory, and reporting, as well as providing the opportunity to access instant sales reports.
Talbot said: “It really is about simplifying processes. It’s always difficult to justify a cost saving number, but you can actually point at business process streamlining, which has saved the company loads. The other thing is it enables us to do things that we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”
Those ‘other things’ include having an online presence, globally, said Talbot. P3 Medical operates across 50 countries, so making data on its medical devices and orders was of the utmost priority.
NetSuite also helps P3 with its online store. “We’re early in e-commerce, but we can sell directly from NetSuite. Online access to product data is important to us. In the UK, our biggest customer is the NHS. The NHS is being directed to go down the EDI (electronic data interchange) route by the department of health, so we are better placed there than we would be with legacy systems. It’s all about making data available easily. Our industry is highly regulated because we make devices that are used on human beings in life saving. Therefore, getting data to customers is important. There’s nothing better than making it available in online form.”
TechWeekEurope quizzed Talbot on the costs of support from NetSuite, as typically customers can expect to fork out high sums for professional support. Talbot said: “In all honesty, it’s only pricey if you go down professional services route. We’ve been lucky and been able to solve problems themselves or pay for middle tier support. But we have gone to professional services once which was expensive. I completely accept that, but it’s not a major concern [for P3].”
In terms of looking to the future and how NetSuite will help companies such as P3 overcome business challenges, Talbot said he sees high stakes in transaction processing, especially in the medical industry. He said: “The big thing for us is transaction processing. That’s going to be really, really important. The UK department of health has adopted a set of standards now that is starting to mandate that people go down this route. Listen to the financial constraints on the NHS, especially with the election coming up, yet we still produce paper purchase orders which we email and fax and have loads of bods keying in, in both the hospital side and the supplier side.”