This month, our CEO Annaliese Kloe features in The Strategic CFO Magazine. Check out the article below.
Soaring Above the Clouds | Bernard Hickey for The Strategic CFO Magazine It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely beginning for a cloud computing company. Headland Machinery was founded in in 1949 as an importer and servicer of machine tools. That means lots of heavy equipment being installed and serviced by men in overalls with clipboards and spanners and forms to be signed in triplicate with biros that were usually in shirt pockets or tucked behind the ear. Acquired by the Kloe family in 1979, Headland grew across Australia with its manufacturing sector through the 1980s and 1990s. Annaliese Kloe and her brother Richard came into the business in 2001 and 1993 respectively to help grow the business. It suffered the usual growth pains with a multiplication of accounting, sales, marketing, inventory and invoicing systems that replicated in server rooms and lunchrooms and chewed up reams of paper. Annaliese recalls those pains and explains why the company looked to move to a cloud-based ERP system in 2009 that simplified the company and reduced costs. “We also had people in all parts of Australia, so it was getting very expensive to coordinate and manage the team. Because our systems were not connected, we spent money on the knowledge base to overlay across the top,” Kloe says. “That works to a point, but once you grow and get bigger, then the costs escalate because you have to have a duplication of tasks,” she recalls. So Headland moved to NetSuite. But it then had to work out how to manage all its engineers out on the road across a big continent in multiple time zones. NetSuite didn’t have a module that could be plugged in to allow those men in overalls to service the machines in a seamless way with NetSuite. So Kloe took a brave decision for a manufacturing servicing company. She and her family decided to employ some software engineers to build a field service module that fitted into NetSuite to suit their needs.
“We built a drag and drop schedule board. We linked to a lot of elements of Netsuite and then built a field mobility solution to use on iPads or phones – the thing that actually manages the task down to the engineer,” she says.
Instead of pulling their clipboards out of the dashboards, they pulled out an iPad and managed the maintenance of the machines, the ordering of spare parts, the creation of invoices and the reporting on job sheets in a way that hooked up seamlessly with Headland’s ERP system. “These engineers would get a list of tasks for the day on their iPhone or iPad, which have geolocation software and mapping so they can see exactly where the site is, which say that they need to fix their equipment,” she says. Headland did the job so well it won a global award from NetSuite in 2013 that is known as the ‘Your NetSuite’ or ‘Suite’ award. “Then we thought other people would like the same sort of solution – people who run Netsuite would need this solution,” Kloe says. Kloe and Headland then decided to set up a completely separate business called Klugo Group that helped businesses integrate NetSuite and used the Headland module for field service teams known as NextService. Surprisingly perhaps, no one globally had invented such a module for NetSuite. Klugo was able to piggyback off the Headland example. “The difference is the story. Because we with our other company were a user, and we also developed on the platform, it really enabled us to communicate to new client the driving demands of why you’d choose a solution like NetSuite,” she says. Klugo was able to demonstrate that Headland saved $375,000 in its first year by implementing NetSuite. “That’s why when we talk to clients we talk to them about our experiences and what you need to do to transform your business and change, especially when you’ve got a lot of price pressures and you need to become a lot more efficient.” Headland has continued to grow into a $30 million a year business in turnover terms with 60 employees. Klugo has grown since its foundation in 2013 into a 40-person company. To read more from The Strategic CFO, you can subscribe to their digital paper here.