Unisport, the leading producer of sports facilities in the Nordic countries, was in need of a unified and scalable business system to support the growth of its operations. With the help of Digia, Unisport has fulfilled this need by adopting a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central solution tailored to its needs.
Unisport is the leading producer of sports facility concepts in the Nordic countries and has been active for over a hundred years. In 2020, the net sales of the Nordic market leader in sports facilities and coatings was EUR 138 million. The company has 350 employees across five countries.
Unisport’s mission is to encourage people to be active, and the company offers sports facility concepts on the B2B market, including padel courts, environmentally friendly artificial turf for football fields and indoor basketball courts.
Unisport had been growing inorganically through acquisitions for several years, and, as a result, the different processes and practices of various organisations and countries combined into an IT architecture resembling a patchwork quilt. “Financial data in particular was collected in many different ways in different organisations and countries, which was not an ideal situation for our expanding business services,” explains Marika Launonen, Unisport’s ERP Program Manager, who has been involved in the process of overhauling the business system from the very start.
To achieve sustainable growth, the company needed a unified and scalable business platform that would import all the required information into the data warehouse in a transparent way to support business decision making and allow for the centralised management of data. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central was chosen as the platform that would bring the different business locations, geographic areas and their various processes together.
What we did
- business system that covers Unisport's all main processes
- cloud services
We saw Digia as a suitably-sized operator that, in addition to high technical expertise, also has a partnership network in the Nordic countries.
Marika Launonen, Head of IT, Unisport
Global business activities create special requirements for a business system
Unisport required a business system that was flexible and covered the company’s main processes: finance, sales, maintenance activities, warehousing, production, the purchasing process and project management. The majority of the company’s business activities are in the form of projects, which meant that project management features were a critical factor in the choice of system.
In addition to this, especially for the finance department, the system also needed to cover the special requirements of each country. “Operating in several different countries comes with its own challenges. For example, payment transaction file formats vary from one country to another and there are differences in the legal requirements surrounding bookkeeping and taxation, all of which needs to be brought together under one well-functioning system,” Launonen explains.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central met Unisport’s needs
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central was chosen as the most suitable business system for Unisport’s needs. The system combined the processes and functionalities desired by Unisport, and the decision was made easier by the wide selection of add-on functions available for the system. Microsoft’s architecture was a natural choice because of the guaranteed reliability of a well-known and trustworthy operator like Microsoft and many users’ familiarity with the system through other software.
Through the identification of main processes and configurations and the completion of a gap analysis, Digia helped specify the changes and customisations to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central standard solution critical to Unisport’s needs. In addition to the standard Business Central solution, the forward-looking cloud solution built for Unisport includes expansions that meet the needs of the key special characteristics of Unisport’s business activities in the form of both third-party add-ons and customer-specific solutions. The cloud solution managed by Digia has proved reliable in terms of performance. In addition to this, using Digia’s integration services, the data received from Unisport’s various business locations is stored in a unified data warehouse that can also be found in the Azure cloud environment managed by Digia.
Unisport selected Digia as their partner for the project thanks to Digia’s impressive expertise in Microsoft systems and international partnership network. “We saw Digia as a suitably-sized operator that, in addition to high technical expertise, also has a partnership network in the Nordic countries. As things were, this network was a prerequisite for the success of the project,” Launonen explains.
Process systematisation and a foundation for future growth
The wide-ranging system overhaul has also demanded significant effort and a willingness to learn from Unisport’s personnel. Transitioning from familiar working methods to new ones also requires changes in management systems, especially when, like in the case of Unisport, the changes to the system were undertaken in seven different operational organisations over the course of the process. Process managers, who were responsible for the development of processes in their assigned fields, occupied a particularly important role in this overhaul process.
Summer is Unisport’s busiest season, and the summer of 2021 began with a new system. The benefits of the two-year project have already been confirmed in many areas, and Unisport’s finance department in particular has already seen the first effects of the improved processes. “In terms of financial administration, the standardised charts of accounts adopted in every country and the combination of warranty management and entries, for example, have been very advantageous,” Launonen explains.
In general, the overhaul of the business system has made basic processes more systematic by ensuring that the changes made in them are immediately available across all business locations.
There are still further changes to be made, but the fact that the unification of the systems has greatly improved the organisation’s basic infrastructure is already an enormous boon for Unisport. “We have better future opportunities to develop analytics and introduce electronic services. Now that our system is in a much healthier technical state, we can start building new things on top of it and optimise and further develop the system as we go forward. There’s still work to be done, but we are moving in the right direction step by step!” Launonen concludes.