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Greentree At The Frontier Of Science

The Florey says Greentree will free its scientists from drudgery, to concentrate on vital medical research.

“Our organisation is all about people; 70 per cent of our employees are research scientists who don’t want the hassle of doing administrative work to ensure they get paid. In Greentree we have an ERP system that will deliver the right environment so they can get on with their very important work.”

Peter Plecher is the Group Director (Finance) for The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, one of Australia’s largest medical research institutes and the third most cited in the world. This Melbourne-based not-for-profit organisation conducts scientific, lab-based research on neurological conditions including epilepsy, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and addiction.

Simplifying and automating processes, while removing unnecessary costs, are priorities for The Florey. For sound business administration, to free up its scientists to focus on advancing brain science, it chose Greentree and Partner, Ndevr.

Ndevr impressed with both its business development and technical know-how.

“They were head and shoulders above the other vendors we dealt with,” Peter says. “I’ve worked for some large international companies and I feel Australia rather lags behind Europe and the USA in terms of account management and business development. Ndevr was excellent – a big tick.”

KEY TO KEEPING SKILLED PEOPLE

Founded in 1963 by philanthropists Kenneth Myer AC and Sir Ian Potter, The Florey today is the result of a more recent amalgamation with several other research organisations. It employs about 600 people, spread across several campuses.

It receives around $60 million a year in funding from federal and state government, along with various donors, trusts and foundations.

“We’re just the caretaker of those funds,” Peter explains. “The grants are allocated to scientists, who own that funding as individuals. We’re in a competitive environment for skilled researchers, so if I don’t have the infrastructure in terms of systems, automation, access, information and reporting, they may go elsewhere, taking that funding with them.”

MODERNISING THE SYSTEM

Peter was brought in to oversee the administrative aspect of the amalgamation that created The Florey. It was a massive three-year task, bringing together different payroll, accounting and purchasing systems. However, once he’d completed that, he embarked on another journey.

“Our business systems were fragmented,” he recalls. “Purchasing, GL and payroll were all separate – this caused all sorts of grief.”

The Florey’s HR/Payroll system didn’t allow remote access using the Apple computers preferred by the research scientists. HR staff had to run around with pieces of paper for the scientists to fill in. “It was a bad experience for the researchers,” Peter says. “Forms would be misplaced or filled out incorrectly and our administration was further complicated by the elaborate variety of pay scales.”

A SOLID PARTNERSHIP

Peter went hunting for an ERP system that could integrate all the HR/payroll, GL and purchasing functionality and was configured for Australia’s taxation system. He assessed half a dozen different systems before settling on Greentree.

“We wanted a dependable system with a proven track record,” he says. “We are trying to solve some of the greatest medical challenges of our time, so we need a solid partner to provide the backbone.”

PURCHASING AND REPORTING POWER

Greentree’s eTimesheets mean the researchers and managers can handle their administrative workflow quickly and efficiently, eliminating paperwork. Greentree also easily handles the highly detailed financial statements required by the directors.

Purchasing is another area that has to be just right.

“We purchase a lot of highly regulated substances along with highly sophisticated medical research equipment,” says Peter.

“Above all, I need a system that can provide the best possible experience for our researchers,” Peter concludes. “Greentree is reliable and easy to use, so they can concentrate on keeping us at the forefront of brain research.”

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