The Punch Story

Punch, an independent pub company with 1300 pubs across the UK, has been working on a new strategic plan. As well as modernising its central business system with Dynamics NAV 2018, Punch plans to lead the way with a focus on people, customers and sales. The pub company wants to become the UK’s most inspiring start-up investment business and the preferred business partner for those wanting to run their very own pub business. This year, Punch was extremely proud to be a finalist in the ‘Best Pub Company of the Year’ award.

Over the next three years, Punch is investing some £80m into community pubs across its estate and already, it’s successfully completed a large number of projects, investing almost £32m during the first year. Recently the company has launched an industry leading training facility, The Academy, offering training programmes from digital marketing to cellar management for aspiring publicans. With so many plans afoot, it was well and truly time to update its 17-year-old finance system!

Why Punch chose Dynamics NAV

After researching what was available in the marketplace, Punch soon discovered that many ERP options needed to be tailored specifically to suit its needs. Whereas in the case of Dynamics NAV, using the nHanced 365 modules already created by us (The NAV / 365 People) to fit perfectly with the pub company industry as well as NAV, most of the extra tailoring work had already been done.

Head of IT at Punch, Chris Mountjoy, says some of the other reasons why Punch chose Dynamics NAV was the cost to implement it, the speed of implementation, NAV’s great compatibility with other Microsoft products Punch is already using, the functionality of the system, and the fact it was cost effective.

Why The NAV / 365 People was selected as the partner

Punch chose The NAV / 365 People because we had previously worked together on a beer-ordering system, and we already had a lot of experience working in the pub industry, successfully supplying other pub businesses with Dynamics NAV and nHanced 365 modules.

Planning, preparation and training for the changeover to Dynamics NAV

Acting ERP Programme Manager for Punch, David Moulten-Bark, says: “The process of moving over to Microsoft NAV was quite a long one. We’d been thinking of moving to a newer, fresher finance system for some time and it was almost two-and-a-half years in the making to get to the point of going live. We did a lot of preparation – we spoke with our business users to understand what they didn’t like about the old system and what they wanted moving forward; we created a new business strategy; and we wanted to make sure those strategic changes could be adapted and adopted in the new Dynamics NAV system going forward.”

Chris says the unique ‘Day in the Life’ scoping sessions, undertaken by The NAV / 365 People (once the decision was made to move forward with the implementation), was completed within a matter of weeks.

"They really ‘got under the skin’ of our processes”

“As part of the scoping for the ‘Day in the Life’ sessions, the team from The NAV / 365 People got to work to really understand the nuances of our business – they really ‘got under the skin’ of our processes. This played a vital role in the implementation process.”

 Other important elements were the cleansing of the data prior to transferring it onto the new system, and the training of Punch users across the company in the lead-up to going live. Training was particularly focussed in the finance area, with Punch running separate sessions and creating procedure notes for going live.

 The planning, preparation and training were very well-structured, so everyone would know what they needed to do when it was the actual implementation. 

Smooth transition to Dynamics NAV

When the time came to change to the new system, it was critical the migration took place from Friday and over the course of one particular weekend to fit in with Punch’s financial period that runs on a four-week calendar basis – and that it was ready for the business to run live on Monday morning (no pressure!).

Over that weekend, everyone involved in the ‘go live’ process from Punch’s project team and The NAV / 365 People’s team, ran through four different scenarios, imitating what ‘could’ happen during ‘go live’. This was an important part of the process, testing everyone knew their roles and that the system worked exactly as required. They finished with enough time on Sunday evening to be ready to ‘go live’ on Monday morning … and they did!

David adds: “The implementation was very successful with a minimal amount of noise, as business users were prepared, they knew it was coming and they adapted to the new system very well. There were no major teething problems, which was great!

“I think the training and preparation prior to going live really helped with that and the system did exactly what we needed it to do. Everybody within the business quickly got used to those changes – which can always be difficult to manage – but the approach Punch and The NAV / 365 People adopted with the ‘go live’ worked very well.”

With so much planning, preparation and training, Chris says the whole implementation of the project to move from the old system to the new Dynamics NAV system went incredibly smoothly.

Working with Dynamics NAV

Head of Financial Business Support at Punch, Becki Hewson, who was the finance lead on the project says: “We now use Dynamics NAV for absolutely everything. It’s an integral part of the company - it’s our accounting system, we use if for the beer ordering, through to the EDI process, accounts payable, accounts receivable, publican rent billing, paying rents payable on our leasehold properties – and that’s only part of it. Dynamics NAV is fundamental to our day-to-day operation.”

"Dynamics NAV is fundamental to our day-to-day operation"

Business Benefits

Dynamics NAV now gives Punch the ease of integration with its ecommerce website where publicans can place their beer orders. These are fed into Dynamics NAV and costings of those products and how they are charged to the publicans, generate an invoice through the finance system. It’s a lot simpler than the old finance system which was very cumbersome.

Becki says the area they have seen the biggest improvement on is within the workflow. They have developed the workflow from the accounts payable process using the nHanced nForms and nOra modules (developed by The NAV / 365 People) which they adapted to get what they needed for the invoice approval process. 

“It’s been very successfully implemented. Historically with our field-based teams, they used an old, separate system but this gives the field-based teams more flexibility and they’re able to recharge an accounts payable invoice into an accounts receivable invoice in a very simplistic manner using the nForm.”

‘The teams have picked it up and ran with it, as it’s so user-friendly and familiar’

From a user-perspective, since having Dynamics NAV installed, Becki has found the teams have picked it up and ran with it, as it’s so user-friendly and familiar, as Punch was already a ‘Microsoft house’ and Dynamics NAV is a Microsoft product. “From Day One it’s gone really, really well.

“Also, some of the processes were quite long-winded in our previous system. We’ve streamlined those processes in Dynamics NAV and found masses of improvement, more efficiencies and it’s easier to use,” says Becki.

Favourite Add-ons

Continia and Jet Enterprise for Punch’s accounts payable processes have been seamlessly integrated into Dynamics NAV and as a result, users do not feel as if they are using multiple platforms.

As well as nOra and nForms, David says the nHanced Panels and Tiles module is particularly good. “It’s a great graphical way for our users to see counters, changes in numbers, how many orders we’ve got, how many orders have failed, how many open invoices, how many purchase orders have yet to be closed and also it’s able to have quick views into pages within NAV via the Tile view. We certainly use the Tiles as the main hub of NAV, which everybody uses as their homepage – it’s exceptional!”

Future-proofing the Business

When looking at new systems, Punch’s approach was to have a system that was fit for purpose but kept the base format as close to ‘default’ (how it came out of the box) as possible, without too much bespoke work.

From previous experience, they had learned that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems were platforms that were not often replaced in business. When a system had a great deal of bespoke work, if problems arose over the following 5 to 10 years and people who knew the intricacies of the bespoke work were no longer working for the company, it could cause all sorts of headaches. 

“I think Punch is in a really good place now,” says David. “We have a good ERP system, everyone in the business understands the environment and not only what it does but why it works that way. If something goes wrong, we can understand why it’s doing what it’s doing and not what it’s supposed to be doing. I think this has given a lot of confidence to our business users.

"We’ll be self-sufficient on support"

“This also gives us a lot of leverage, not only with the implementation of new projects but with changes within the business because we’ll know whether that change can cause problems with the NAV system or not. Also, it means we’ll be self-sufficient on support, for example, we’ll be able to resolve the issues ourselves without having to lean on companies like The NAV/365 People to resolve those problems for us. That’s certainly a massive step change within Punch!”

For Punch, a major change in bringing Dynamics NAV on board is having an ERP system which is new and up-to-date. There is no longer the worry about taking on a host of new pubs and wondering how they will get those new pubs onto the finance system. In the past this took a lot of planning and preparation as it was a very cumbersome system.

"Punch now has business champions"

With Dynamics NAV, it is so much easier as it has a clear and concise user-interface, it’s easy to load information into it using a process called ‘rapid start’ - and as part of its strategic planning, Punch now has business champions. What are business champions, you ask? They are subject-matter experts in their area but not only from a business point of view but also from the Dynamics NAV point of view.

The beauty of this is when Punch wants to do some major projects in the future, these individual business champions will be key in those strategic changes and in those projects. They will ensure Dynamics NAV will be able to handle those changes and projects into the future.

Excited about the Future

Now Punch has implemented Dynamics NAV within the business, it will make it easier to move with the times and solutions. Chris says he’s very excited about the future of Punch. “We’ve got great owners who are committed to investing in the business - in pubs themselves and also in people and technology.”

Punch’s journey with The NAV / 365 People

“The NAV / 365 People were fundamental to our implementation programme,” says Becki. “We spent a lot of time during the ‘Day in the Life’ process discussing what our requirements were. They went away, came back with solutions, alternative improvements or better ways of working to our current processes. They were extremely patient with us and extremely knowledgeable and without them, I don’t think the implementation would have worked or gone as smoothly as it did. I would one hundred percent recommend The NAV / 365 People. They’ve been brilliant!”

David adds: “Their business knowledge, certainly within the pub industry, is second to none. Their expertise and knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics NAV is exceptional, and another key area is their development and modules that they provide on top of Dynamics NAV.”

"Extremely happy with the implementation"

Punch’s head of IT, Chris Mountjoy, sums it up: “Doing a system change on this sort of scale is always going to have twists and turns along the way but overall, I couldn’t be happier with how the implementation went.

“Our relationship with The NAV / 365 People doesn’t feel like a supplier-customer relationship – it’s very much more a partnership.”

Click here to check out Punch’s video case study to hear more about its inspiring NAV journey. It’s well-worth a watch! 

Are you thinking about upgrading your business system? Contact us for an obligation-free chat with one of our Dynamics NAV/365 Business Central specialists. We’ll be happy to assist you any way we can.

To learn more about Punch, visit its website here.

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