Three principles guide The Fresh Collective – excellence, innovation and integrity – all helping to steer a successful course for the hospitality specialist since it was founded 20 years ago.
Managing the food and beverage outlets in iconic venues ranging from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Mint in Sydney and The Queensland Museum, The Fresh Collective is also renowned for catering to prestige events such as Handa Opera and VIVID Sydney as well as a glittering array of corporate functions.
The Gold Licensed company has a team of more than 400 staff, and is constantly on the go.
Take the covers off any smooth-running event and you can see its moving parts; waiters and bartenders serving clients, chefs overseeing teams of cooks, suppliers arriving with produce. The Fresh Collective routinely runs multiple events and venues simultaneously.
Its continued success relies on all its moving parts working in harmony with no bottlenecks. If the jus isn’t ready when the main course goes out, there’s a problem.
The same with information systems. If the computer systems struggle to keep pace with the company’s growth, or inject delays, there’s a problem.
Founded in 1998, The Fresh Collective had used Apple computers and MYOB to manage information processing. Fast forward 20 years and the system was struggling to handle its 6,000-7,000 transactions a week; it had, so to speak, run out of jus.
Jay Deo, the Fresh Collective’s CFO and Technology Manager, recognised that the company needed a new and robust computing platform that would grow in lockstep with the business and provide robust foundations for the future.
Working with KPMG on the deployment the company has rolled out a Microsoft foundation, with Wiise, clever business software that’s built on Dynamics 365 Business Central as the cornerstone.
It’s this that delivers the four key pillars for effective digital transformation; engaging with customers, empowering employees, optimising operations and transforming products.
Clarity and transparency
The challenge that the company was facing wasn’t purely about handling the transaction volumes – The Fresh Collective was also struggling to generate reports for managers and executives, and achieve the sort of transparency that is needed to identify opportunities to improve and reform the business.
Growth was challenging, because the system was already creaking. The Fresh Collective needed a solution that would provide everything it needed today – and a runway for continued expansion tomorrow.
Deo says that he explored the possibility of upgrading the MYOB platform, moving to SAP or switching to Wiise, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. What quickly became clear was the integration across the Microsoft suite, along with the robust and secure computing foundations delivered by Microsoft Azure provided the optimal solution.
He also anticipated a streamlining effect for the business which already uses Office 365, SharePoint and Microsoft Surface Pro devices. The integration across the Microsoft suite means that extracting data from the Wiise solution and loading it into Excel in order to comply with statutory reporting requirements is now relatively straightforward.
It’s also delivered a quantum leap in the sort of reporting that is available to the company’s retail managers who look after individual venues such as MCA Cafe, and for the company’s senior executives.
Deo explains; “The managers would require reports on a weekly basis for them and for their team, to ensure they are meeting their KPIs, budget and forecast numbers.”
At the same time senior executives wanted access to higher level reports which reveal how all the moving parts of the business are performing at a point in time.at
Deo says that creating those reports is now much simpler. And it’s also possible to deliver the sort of granularity that clients want. For example; “Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, where the customers require detailed sales report by item and meal periods.
Wiise and Dynamics 365 not only provide the basis for producing these reports – they have allowed The Fresh Collective to make changes across the company – automating processes, achieving stability in reporting, and providing a robust data foundation for budgeting and forecasting, according to Deo.
He estimates the business is saving a day and a half each week on processing and reporting, freeing up teams for more value adding work.
Deo believes that the solution now deployed will provide the foundations needed for 10-20 years more growth.
Charting a course
Working closely with KPMG the company mapped out its requirements, and the customisation that was required to ensure a perfect fit.
“I think it’s really important that you lay the foundations correctly and have adequate time period for the implementation. Building a robust and dynamic chart of accounts will ensure the strategic visions for future expansion of the company are taken care of,” says Jay.
He’s confident that the structure now in place means that if needed The Fresh Collective “Could make simple changes to our chart of accounts and we are ready to expand.”
The system’s ability to scale is addressed by the underlying cloud foundations of Wiise built on Dynamics 365. Geographic reach is also no problem to achieve – and that’s also important.
“We use Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business which provides a rich communication experience with all our business partners, not just locally but across Australia. Microsoft tools are helping our business to be in the forefront of current technological changes and effectively deal with all our business requirements.”
The additional flexibility of a cloud-based solution is also welcomed by Deo’s team for the work life balance it affords.
“Being in a cloud-based solution helps us, helps them, which empowers employees as well, because they are comfortable working anywhere, and it also makes them feel the company is providing them with not just a solution of completing required work in any particular environment, but just helping out with their general personal life as well. It motivates them – their productivity is much, much more.”
More innovation ahead
Having the right foundations in place is also spurring Jay to further innovation. “We would like to automate the accounts payables process. As our business is growing, the system is adopting to this growth providing us the flexibility to add more functionalities for teams across the organisation.”
“From Event Managers to Logistics team, they all require live data to perform their tasks efficiently. Microsoft tools have allowed them to access this data ensuring they complete the required tasks efficiently taking and into account the changes that may have happened.”
Jay is clearly satisfied with the impact of Wiise and the Microsoft environment. “The flexibility and stability of the software has provided immense benefit to our organisation. The Executive Board, Shareholders and Venue Managers are aware of the business movements on the day to day basis. Any required changes can be made immediately as having the right information at the right time is crucial to our business success, and Wiise has given that solution for us. “