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Client Profile

Client Profile
Customer Ulster Rugby
Location Northern Ireland
Sage Solution Sage 200

Ulster Rugby is one of four professional provincial rugby teams from the island of Ireland and is the biggest organisation running a full-time professional team based in Northern Ireland. Ulster Rugby plays in the European Rugby Champions Cup and Guinness PRO12, and provides the biggest regular supporter numbers for a true ‘sport for all’ in Northern Ireland.

The organisation’s playing and administrative staff is based at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. The stadium reopened in 2014 after a £15.9 million redevelopment, which transformed it into one of the most modern rugby venues in Europe.

Going forward into the future

Going forward into the future

The refurbished stadium has seen capacity increase from 11,000 to 18,100, and, anticipating this expansion, in 2013 Ulster Rugby began the search for a replacement business system to manage its growth.

Accountant Joanne Hunter recalls, “We had relied on Sage 50 to run our accounts for some years and the software had served us well, but we knew that expansion would bring increased pressure and a greater demand for management reporting. While recognising that we probably hadn’t exhausted everything Sage 50 could offer us, we took the major decision to move to a system with the scope and scale to accommodate both our known, planned growth and any future business developments.”

A time of great change

A time of great change

The decision went ahead to purchase Sage 200 Financials and Commercials, with Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

The implementation took place at the Club’s financial year end, in tandem with the Finance team’s move to new offices within the redeveloped stadium: “It wasn’t exactly the perfect timing to take such a big step,” comments Joanne, “but fortunately we had Pinnacle’s expert help throughout. Their support team are great and they quickly ironed out any issues that are bound to arise in the early days of using new technology.”

Sage 200 now offers expanded functionality to support the enlarged stadium and the club has achieved its primary goal of improved reporting for senior management. There is better cost analysis according to match type and other group activities, such as the club’s thriving Academy arm for developing young talent. Joanne says, “Managers can see the big picture but also drill down to view actual spend against budget in detail for every part of our business.”

It’s not only about doing the same things we did before only far more efficiently; we can help the club’s managers in innovative ways, rather than just providing a limited ‘set menu’ of reports.

Joanne Hunter , Accountant Ulster Rugby

Joanne Hunter

A refreshing experience

A refreshing experience

The process of refreshing reports has benefited greatly from improved automation, as Joanne explains, “In the past, if a manager asked for an update of a previously provided report, we had to try to ring-fence an hour in our busy day. It’s so much simpler with Sage 200; we can do the update with the press of a button. What’s more, having accurate and up-to-date information giving a view of the business as it is right now makes it easier for managers to engage with the information.”

It’s still early days for the new Sage 200 system and Joanne says, “We know there is functionality yet to be explored. For example, adopting the CRM software is still a work in progress for us. But we’ll get there, with Pinnacle’s support and guidance.”

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