Celtest, a leading UK business that provides UKAS accredited compliance-testing services for materials used in large construction and engineering projects has implemented a sustained programme of digital investment for its test data and results to improve its competitiveness.
Over the course of a year, it’s made significant savings in telecoms costs through a VoIP phone system, improved efficiency each week by making savings using electronic reporting direct from test sites and increased the amount of business enquiries coming through its upgraded website. The company has also vastly improved cyber-security and is GDPR compliant.
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“It’s hard to remember how we coped before the decision to move to digital”
“The last 12 months have been transformational for the business, to the point that it’s hard to remember how we coped before the decision to move to the digital systems,” said Celtest’s business development manager, Iwan Morgan. “The move has meant that working patterns have also changed for a lot of staff and that took a while to get used to, but now everyone is fully on board and the business is really benefiting as a result.”
According to the latest Digital Maturity Survey for Wales 2018, published by The Welsh Economy Research Unit (WERU) of Cardiff Business School, 72% of Welsh SMEs now use at least one form of digital technology to help manage a range of business tasks, including VoIP to reduce telecommunications costs or cloud-based software to save time and enhance collaboration between teams.
“The time-savings made have been game changing for the business”
Celtest is a clear example of how digital technology can benefit business. The firm produces reports for construction companies, civil engineers, quarrying and aggregate companies to test for compliance with the required standards for materials such as soil, concrete, asphalt and aggregate. At the beginning of last year, the company’s directors took the decision to move from a paper-based system of inputting data, generating and managing reports, to a digital system.
“One of the biggest things for our industry is the ability to get reports out quickly and accurately, and a lot of that comes down to the efficiency of the systems you have in place,” added Mr Morgan.
Celtest produces thousands of reports a year, drawing from a combination of hundreds of different types of tests, depending on a client’s specific requirements. The time savings made since introducing the new reporting system have been game-changing for the business and enabled it to improve its competitiveness.
“The investment we’ve made in digital technology has already paid for itself”
Under the old regime, Celtest technicians could be based at a site for three to four days with test data not relayed to the office, and reports not produced for the client. Depending on the project, reporting now takes less than 24 hours, with some completed almost instantly. There have been other cost and efficiency savings in areas like generating invoices – the new automated system saves around two hours a week – and the firm’s new VoIP based phone system has improved the quality and efficiency of calls, as well as benefiting the company financially.
With new efficient processes and additional free time to deliver on contracts, Celtest focused on attracting new business through a digital marketing strategy. The company realised it needed to revamp its online marketing and would need to commission a new website as part of a major push to enhance its visibility and presence online. The firm approached the Welsh Government’s Superfast Business Wales, initially for help with the website, but ended up attending a workshop on search engine optimisation and receiving 1-2-1 advice from a digital business adviser, resulting in a tailored ‘digital action plan’.
“The support from Superfast Business Wales has been a key factor”
Figures from the 2018 Digital Maturity Survey suggest that nine out of 10 SMEs currently have a website, with 75% also using social media platforms to engage potential customers. Celtest launched its new website in January 2019 and already enjoys improved search rankings on Google, with regular blog and social media content contributing to the rankings. Already, site traffic has increased, and the better designed website has led to more business enquires.
“The investment we’ve made in digital technology has already paid for itself and we are just starting to see the benefits of the time we’ve put into re-developing the website. The support from Superfast Business Wales has been a key factor and we’d recommend other businesses who are looking at new digital platforms to sign up to the programme.”