“Five years ago, before we digitised and went paperless, we wouldn't have been able to carry on trading [through the coronavirus lockdown], says Jonny Leroux, managing director of Litecast Limited.
“We appear to have very much bucked the trend by a combination of heavy investment in a bespoke ERP system, rapid deployment of a working from home policy and the commitment of a small core of hard working and dedicated skeleton staff,” he says.
“Essentially, the fact that we are now paperless allowed us to roll-out remote working with hours of the lockdown announcement – meaning that the office continued to work exactly as before. The speed with which we can turn around a design and a quote meant we were able to reposition the business during the lockdown to service the builders merchants/retail markets – and the number of patios, domestic extensions and self-builds we’ve supplied in the last two months is higher than the previous two years combined.
“The fact that production planning is done at the click of a button (by one of the production operatives, not a member of the office staff) also meant that social distancing protocol could easily be following as zero interaction was required with the office/admin staff.
“We've almost entirely changed our business model in the last two months, from selling 90% of our product into building sites to selling 70% into the retail/ builders merchants for self builds and domestic extensions. This has only been made possible because of our comprehensive bespoke system, Elsie.”
Jonny Leroux explains that Elsie is a bespoke software package that he commissioned on taking over the business in 2015. It was developed by Techtoniq specifically for Litecast.
He says that it was a heavy investment for a £15m turnover business but as “a ground-up business-wide technology system” it has had a transformational effect on business processes.
Excel worksheets and Auto Cad technologies have been replaced by integrated web-based applications with the incorporation of automated Revit software. All information is available to management at the click of a button anywhere in the world. Key performance indicators are updated real-time and accessible by employees through office dashboards.
Litecast manufactures more than 42,000 linear metres of concrete beams a week. Thanks to Elsie, changes to processes include the production of beam layout designs with quotations, 96% of which are turned around and delivered within 48 hours. Before 2015, quotes were estimates, and designs were only produced on receipt of order.
Previously, one person spent four hours a day calculating and planning the daily casting requirements; it is now done at the click of a button.
Similarly, all invoicing, billing and accounting are digital and automated.
Customers can place orders and make payments for quotations online, without the need to contact the company or for employees to process emails or take phone calls.
Elsie also has an employee portal, which covers all training and HR functions of the business, resulting in there being no need for a dedicated HR manager despite the company having doubled the number of employees since 2015, Jonny Leroux says. ISO documentation has taken on a new form via Elsie, accessible to all that need it, navigated without the need for spreadsheets and physical folders containing the required documentation.
Jonny Leroux says that Litecast has not just coped with the crisis, it has thrived, all thanks to being a paperless organisation.