M&C Saatchi London gets creative with NetSuite

Maggie Holland

4 Apr, 2019

Creative Agency Network M&C Saatchi is using NetSuite’s ERP system to make better use of data and boost debt collection processes in its London offices.

It now hopes to expand its use of the technology, internationally, according to Michael Saunders, finance director at M&C Saatchi London.

The incumbent was mainframe-based, which generated Excel-based reports that weren’t very enlightening. Now, with NetSuite, it’s much easier to slice and dice data and drill down into transactions quickly and easily, Saunders told Cloud Pro.

“Things now happen in a much more timely way,” he said. “We didn’t have much of an ability to look at things by department or look at what you’ve sold in this month, where your spend is versus last year in this area etc. You can spot trends and things going wrong a lot faster. Once we get more of the forecasting elements done, it will improve our kind of month end process. We should have more accurate forecasting.”

Saunders added: “I ran a selection process and we ended up with 15 potential ERP systems on the list. It was a strategic move to go with NetSuite as it’s very easy to build on it and it’s easy to integrate it with other systems. All the other ones we looked at didn’t have as good a UI and didn’t feel like they had as much money being pumped into them.

“It’s a quite simple, reliable system to use. If you gave it to a kid, they could probably work out how to do certain things quite easily.”

There are more than a dozen entities operating under the M&C Saatchi umbrella in London, with around 800 employees. Globally, the organisation has around 2,000 members of staff.

After a thorough selection process that started in 2016, Saunders and key stakeholders settled upon NetSuite as their ERP system of choice for the UK business. The system went live in January 2018 with a two-week training programme initiated to get employees up and running quickly and easily.

The firm also kept its implementation partner, RSM, on board for the initial few months to help ease any teething problems with the user training side of things.

M&C Saatchi has and is growing around the world, but organically and through acquisition so it still uses a number of different ERP systems depending on location and other needs. Using the UK as a test bed, the plan is to try and rationalise the number of systems in use, even if that still results in multiple ERP instances.

“The first stage of the project was always to focus on the UK as we didn’t want to do too much at once. We’ve been on the same system in the UK for 18 years. Now, we’re starting to look at how it can be more of a platform for the systems we use. We’re integrating our budgeting and forecasting tool, Adaptive Insights, into it, and Sage People. All you have to work out is where your master record for each type of information is going to be held. You can get them all talking to each other quite quickly,” Saunders added.

“To bring in a new office of region is not a new implementation. I could almost set up a new subsidiary on my phone right now… Hopefully, that is where we will also see value – we won’t need a professional services team to do a new country. There are economies of scale as you bring more data and more people onto it.”