BlueScope Australia consolidates 13 legacy systems into a customer-centric ERP environment
BlueScope is a provider of innovative steel materials, products, systems and technologies. It is also one of the world’s leading manufacturers of painted and coated steel products, providing vital components for houses, buildings, other structures, motor vehicles and more.
Headquartered in Australia, BlueScope has more than 160 operations and sales offices in 18 countries across several regions, including the Asia Pacific and North America. It employs over 15,000 people and serves thousands of customers every day.
Digital solutions have become increasingly integral to BlueScope’s strategy. However, in recent years, the company had realised that many of its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other legacy systems were falling short in supporting its business initiatives.
“Improving the experience of our customers and employees, and providing a single view across our supply chain, was either not possible or required increasing levels of complexity,” says Jagdeep Singh, Head of Strategy and Transformation for BlueScope Australia’s Steel Product IT department.
“For instance, in Australia we have over 300 applications supporting our Coated and Industrial Products business. Many of these systems are point-to-point connected, with black and white screens, making it very difficult for our employees to use and for our IT teams to maintain and untangle, let alone consider any enhancements.”
Putting customers at the heart of the solution
In 2016, BlueScope began searching for a modern, cloud-based ERP solution that would enable it to consolidate multiple applications.
Singh says this would streamline business processes and provide a modern technology foundation for its Australian Coated and Industrial Products supply chain and customer-facing systems. This foundation would in turn support the business’s growth and ability to innovate.
“Our aging and custom-built IT systems are also becoming increasingly costly to maintain,” Singh adds.
Most importantly, BlueScope’s ERP transformation project is the first step in improving its customer experience.
“Key business processes such as accurate pricing, easy quoting and timely, consistent information about orders and deliveries are not efficiently met by our legacy systems,” Singh says. “We were looking for these capabilities to be part of the new solution.”
After evaluating nine ERP solutions, BlueScope selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) with the Crowe Metals Accelerator (CMA). The company also teamed up with Microsoft partner DXC Technology to implement and customise the software for the BlueScope environment. In the first phase of the project, BlueScope has decommissioned 13 legacy systems and implemented a new self-service online portal – based on Microsoft Power Platform – to expand customers’ access to information.
According to Singh, the multi-phase ERP replacement project is a business-led initiative rather than just an IT-led initiative, which required endorsement and engagement from all levels of the company.
“Although we had key subject matter experts dedicated to the project, we also needed to ensure involvement from key business and IT people during critical times, such as end-to-end user acceptance testing, cutover, training and hyper care,” he explains.
Early success strengthens BlueScope for the future
BlueScope has onboarded around 300 users onto its ERP system to date, with plans to add another 250 in future phases of the project. The company also has a large number of customers using its new customer portal called SteelConnect.
Singh says that while it’s still early days in the transformation project, the new system has already improved its customer experience in several ways.
“Our customers can now get more detail themselves about their account via the customer portal” he says. “And employees no longer have to dive into multiple systems – many of them built last century – to complete business processes or even answer simple customer queries.
“Internally, we have greater visibility of enquiries from our customers across cross-functional teams. We also have the ability to create Power BI reports utilising a common set of data.
“The next phase of the project is removing a key legacy system that is used extensively across all of our state service centres in Australia. We have also begun a separate project at one of our downstream businesses.”
Once the entire supply chain for BlueScope’s Australian Coated and Industrial Products business is using D365 with CMA, the company will be positioned to integrate new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced and predictive analytics, and back-office robotics to automate manual processes currently performed by employees.
“We are hopeful that the biggest impacts are yet to come,” Singh says.