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Strength in simplicity - powering a unified approach to ERP in the cloud at Magnox

Every organization is facing the pressures of mounting complexity and the need to achieve more with dwindling resources as technology improves. But some feel these pressures much more keenly than others – particularly those with individual projects that are so complex and intricate they last several decades.

Magnox Ltd. is one such organization. A subsidiary of the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, they’re responsible for the decommissioning of ten first-generation nuclear power stations and two former research facilities. Beginning to end, the decommissioning process can take as many as a hundred years, and operating in such a highly regulated industry on such a long but stringently controlled projects creates challenges and opportunities. Opportunities for technology to be used to streamline processes, automate and expedite approvals, and simplify ways of working.

Magnox have been using Unit4 ERP to manage their consolidated financial, procurement, project, and HR/people systems since 2011. In 2016, they made the decision to begin a cloud migration journey to consolidate their gains and further upgrade systems. They thus became the first of our customers to migrate from an on-premise implementation to our Microsoft Azure based Cloud ERP system.

At 2020’s X4U, Magnox’s Head of IT Programs Mary Kent joined us to walk us through the implementation and how the new solution has transformed the way Magnox fulfils its mission and delivers value.

Life before and after ERP

Before Magnox switched to Unit4 ERP, the proliferation of processes, diffuse technological solutions for handling those processes, and an over-reliance on paper documents and “wet signatures” for approval were contributing to severe productivity and efficiency losses. In particular, HR records were duplicated across multiple systems leading to frequent discrepancies and errors. In other cases, single systems were being expected to handle too much. The finance system held finance, project master files, and procurement (including AP) and multiple systems were being used to record holiday and overtime, despite a single system being used for timesheeting (which itself had to be fed manually into the finance system.)

Unit4 ERP allowed Magnox to overcome most of these challenges by replacing paper-driven systems split between a variety of different approval systems, workflows, and tools with a single way of working. With the capacity to automate approval across a variety of workstreams. Streamlining processes across all work sites, and allowing compliance to be easily demonstrated to regulatory authorities.

Moving to the cloud – why and how?

After around 4 years with Unit4 ERP, Magnox faced a decision point over the upgrading of their existing IT infrastructure that resulted in their becoming Unit4’s first customer to migrate from on-premise to cloud. To ensure a successful implementation and launch, they worked with us extremely closely to establish parameters for success, develop a strong service-level agreement, and manage delivery timelines.

Immediate advantages of the new cloud solution have included:

  • Enhanced expert security for all data. With all information stored safely on cloud servers, Magnox are freed from the need to manage constantly changing security needs and postures, and from the need to manage any disaster recovery exercises.
  • Instant access from any location. In fact, their Unit4 solution was the only IT system Magnox staff were able to instantly access remotely without any intervention from their IT team when they were forced to work remotely by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Unfettered access to Unit4 apps. Since Magnox’s system is fully contained within Unit4’s Microsoft Azure cloud, all apps are available to all staff on any device at any time.
  • Easier integration with external resources. The ability to easily migrate data from the Unit4 cloud to other systems has made integration with other systems much smoother than it ever was when data was kept on-premise within Magnox’s own interface.
The future – towards continual improvement

The most powerful advantage that a cloud ERP system presents for Magnox is the ability to continue to make marginal gains through the adoption of new features and ongoing upgrades. They’re continuing to review customizations and work arounds with us, and are currently implementing 2-factor authentication to increase security while investigating opportunities for machine learning to further automate workflows. All while implementing the enhancements made possible by their system being up to date with the latest version of our platform now and in the future.

X4U event 2020

Learn the full story

To learn the full story of Unit4’s cloud ERP is helping Magnox deliver value to taxpayers as they guide the decommissioning of the UK’s end-of-life nuclear sites, click below to watch the whole X4U session on demand. You can also access every other session from the event via the X4U portal.