Carbon Engineering is engineering what will be the world's largest DAC plant in the Permian Basin, U.S.A., with the goal to ignite an industry that helps address climate change. It is also constructing a Direct Air Capture Innovation Centre in Squamish, British Columbia, and progressing opportunities for further facilities in several markets around the world.
Like many companies working to commercialize, Carbon Engineering was using off the shelf accounting software and spreadsheets to track important information. This worked fine when it was a company of less than 50 people, but they quickly recognized that this fast-growing company required true ERP capabilities to bring efficiency and visibility to its business processes. Carbon Engineering partnered with Catapult to implement Dynamics 365 Business Central, an ERP solution that has all the capabilities required, as well as the ability to scale with their business.
Business Central provides them with project cost tracking via the Jobs module, which was an essential requirement for commercialization. Carbon Engineering’s project managers benefit from the increased ability to efficiently capture resource costs against projects and tasks. Procurement is also consolidated in Business Central and the team can use sophisticated workflows based on defined financial limits to manage approvals at the project level.
A Growing Need
Carbon Engineering has doubled in size over the last year with 100+ employees now working to achieve their mission to help solve climate change. Carbon Engineering has secured partners in several markets around the world and is working on multiple projects. As a result of that growth, the team had to reevaluate business processes and systems to ensure they had a solution that could scale with the business.
The finance team was using an off the shelf accounting solution that was good for general ledger accounting but had limited project cost tracking capabilities, and the procurement and human resources teams were largely using spreadsheets.
They now required a system with flexible and sophisticated project cost and time tracking capabilities, as well as centralized systems and processes for accounting, procurement, and human resources.
"Decision makers needed timely and accurate information, but gathering data from multiple spreadsheets took time. Our accounting solution was good in the sense that it could track by expense, but wasn’t capable of providing much more than that. We simply needed more."
A Centralized Solution
The Carbon Engineering team chose Dynamics 365 Business Central because they needed a powerful accounting solution in conjunction with time tracking, project costing, procurement, and expenditure management. Business Central has a suite of capabilities, with the ability to unify processes into a single platform and database. This increase in overall efficiency makes reporting much easier and robust for the finance team. Carbon Engineering also wanted a solution that could easily integrate with other business applications, such as employee expense management. Integrated applications are available via Microsoft AppSource, a hub of business apps that integrate seamlessly with Business Central.
"Business Central allows us to integrate certain solutions to meet our requirements, such as expense management. We really like it because it enables us to grow and adapt to meet our evolving needs. We also felt confident because Business Central is a trusted Microsoft product. The security that comes with Azure was one of the things that gave us that assurance over any other solution."
The Carbon Engineering team initially came to Catapult to seek advice and learn if Dynamics 365 would be a good fit for their business. They were excited about Catapult’s bundled approach that included everything they needed to get up and running with Business Central and provide them with extensive go-live stabilization and ongoing support, with simple monthly pricing that aligns with the SaaS value proposition. The Carbon Engineering finance team are firm believers that implementation is never quite done and that there are always system changes that need to be made. Ultimately, they chose Catapult because they were looking for a long-term relationship with a credible partner that they trusted.
"I really like Catapult's subscription model in the sense that they don't just implement and walk away like some of other implementation partners. This is critical for us because as we evolve we need Business Central to evolve and scale to meet our needs."
Catapult helped Carbon Engineering identify what the system was capable and not capable of doing, which helped them decide if they needed to address their business processes to adapt to how the system works. Both parties worked closely together to design the solution in a way that would align with Carbon Engineering’s needs and in turn transform the business.
Automated Processes & Data Insights
With Business Central, Carbon Engineering’s time sheets are now all in one place and automated, making the process more efficient for staff and supervisors. An employee simply opens their timesheet, enter their hours by job code, hit submit and then it automatically goes to a supervisor for approval. It also provides human resources with paid time off reports to verify against their own records.
The Jobs module in Business Central enabled the Carbon Engineering team to track costs and resource usage in a more efficient and centralized way, providing project managers with a more wholistic view of the business. The procurement team can simply input a purchase request into the system and let automated workflows take care of the approval and Purchase Order creation process.
"Business Central provides us with almost everything we need. The quality and timeliness of the information we are getting has improved significantly. We can now track our commitments, time, and expenditure by so many different dimensions, which we did not have before. The amount of time saved in the automation of our old process is significant. "
Using Power Query and Power BI, the finance team are producing a great deal of reports out of Business Central. The reporting floodgates have opened now that the wider business is aware of Business Central’s capabilities. Everyone is requesting more data, up to the board level, and it has helped the team address pain points caused by missing information.
Together with Catapult, Carbon Engineering is working on a series of enhancement projects. They are rolling out Business Central’s inventory management capability to keep track of a growing product development materials inventory. It is increasingly critical to ensure sufficient quantities of key parts are available and to track consumption. Catapult is building out the inventory module within Business Central which will work with the Procurement and Jobs modules, as well as link to an external computerized maintenance management software. In addition to enabling purchasing and tracking of parts (with serial number tracking), the learnings accumulated through this data will be leveraged to further improve the plant design.
The finance team are also shifting their efforts to focus more on reporting, now that the implementation has wound down and the team has been trained on how to use the system. They plan to optimize the reporting they get from the system, and in turn empower the rest of the organization to deploy that data in decision making, to drive forward DAC commercialization.
"Everyone at Catapult has been responsive and helpful from implementation to go-live. The additional training that was provided coupled with the ability to create a case through their customer portal has been fundamental to our success."