Copyright  © 2021

ERP -a critical backbone for data

To unlock exponential growth

Sheena Wong  and Lim Wei Ling

Riding the waves of turbulence demands even more agility, speedy response and meaningful data insights to adapt to the rapid changes in our work.  

To optimise our business performance and streamline productivity, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is key to integrating processes and data across Gamuda Berhad, Gamuda Engineering and Gamuda Land. This has led to the important investment in SAP S/4 HANA as the ERP system for the Group. 

The ERP will connect project planning, logistics, contract management and supporting functions such as Finance and Human Resources across the Group on a single platform. Functioning like our backbone – it provides a single-source-of truth and breaks down the silos. 

Involving nearly 50 Gamudians, it took two months to harmonise the master data from various remote systems into a centralised data management system before we begin to design the critical connected processes in achieving cost visibility and revenue protection.  

The implementation of ERP is envisioned to improve our project margin by 1% and increase automation level at the back-office functions by approximately 40%. These improvements are possible as we have successfully attained good benchmarks following our SAP Ariba journey since 2018. 

Rise approached our newly-appointed Executive Directors who have been entrusted to institute rapid digital transformation across the Group. Each of them brings unique expertise in managing critical business data and driving digitalisation. 

Eric Foong Vooi Lin, Executive Director of Gamuda Engineering, stressed, “The lifeline of our business is essentially about project delivery and budgetary control. We need a robust system to monitor critical data such as order book, revenue, earnings, operating expenses, cash flow position and productivity ratio. 

“If a cost overrun is not flagged immediately, the immediate loss will accumulate until it is too detrimental to rectify. Similarly, there will be loss of opportunities in economical purchase if we do not have access to material requirement information of other business units,” he said. 

Eric is convinced that there are long term benefits of ERP implementation. With real-time cost visibility and having a single source of truth, informed decisions can be made easily because of data reliability and shared access. 

Time and cost management is crucial for a successful project delivery that usually spans over three to five years. Continuous tracking of cost data is vital as it serves as a benchmark for future tenders.  

The maturity of data usage in the construction sector as compared to other industries offers opportunities for us to address the challenges of this industry. Not only data can provide business insights, it is the binding factor to achieve ‘Connected Construction’. 

David Ng Kit Cheong, Executive Director of Gamuda Land, oversees finance and spearheads data management and market intelligence for data-driven product design. He outlined seven areas of focus in critical data – Efficiency, Product, Value Chain, Commercial Real Estate (CRE), Growth, Customer, and Industry Insights. 

David cited an example of centralising our data, “Collecting customers’ feedback will drive stronger customer relationships while mining the market intel of competitors to grow sales with the right product. As data grows in volume and variety, it became apparent that we need an integrated system for collaborative data management. 

“I urge Gamudians to have an open mind to move forward with technology and maximise the potential of ERP. Data analytics will give us further insights for a competitive differentiator,” he advised. 

Lim Hui Yan and Justin Chin Jing Ho are both the Executive Directors of Gamuda Engineering and also the next generation leaders. They offered insights into global work trends after the pandemic recedes, anticipating even more automation and redesigning of work processes. 

Hui Yan highlighted, “Digital transformation is no longer an option, but a necessity for business survival and sets the foundation for overseas expansion. We have to anticipate what’s coming to make quick, meaningful data-driven decisions. To achieve that, we cannot work in silos anymore. Taking ownership in adopting ERP and other digital initiatives will give us a solid footing together. 

“Digitalisation is not just about improving productivity. Beyond numbers, it is also to develop new capacity and upskill the people who are making this happen. In any business transformation plan, every employee’s involvement is required for success,” she added. 

Justin echoed the sentiment, “We have to take a people first approach in our digital journey by enhancing our capabilities in data management and upskilling of data literacy across the Group.  

“The strategic development of digital skills and digitalisation of our processes and business model are key tenets in our circular construction model where environmental, social and governance (ESG) will be central in all of our business operations moving forward. Only by bringing all of this together can we truly transform into a data-driven organisation with sustainability at the forefront,” he said. 

It is evident that the right technology applied correctly will cut transactional costs and drive out hidden expenses, while employees focus on business growth and revenue generating activities.  

Our investment in digital procurement has accumulated valuable supply chain data in the past three years. The next step is to connect those data to our ERP and data warehouse, and form our bespoke business insight to stay ahead of the competition.  

As with the implementation of SAP Ariba, every digitalisation journey is far from smooth sailing. We anticipate temporary disruptions to workflow when the SAP S/4 HANA starts running in August. Short term pain for the longer-term gain.