After rapidly scaling into a multibillion-dollar business, Uniti needed an integrated finance function that could facilitate even greater expansion. Uniti now possesses a streamlined finance operating model, industry-leading finance processes, technologies and automation capabilities, built-in governance and controls to reduce regulatory risk.

Introducing: Uniti Group

Uniti Group is a diversified provider of telecommunications services with two main business units – Wholesale, Enterprise & Infrastructure and Consumer & Small Business. After listing on the ASX in 2019 valued at approximately $35 million, it rapidly expanded through organic and inorganic growth. In early 2022, it was valued at a significant $3.6 billion.

The business challenge: Grow and expand

Throughout this immense scale-up, Uniti completed a number of significant business and asset acquisitions. This activity meant it gained a diverse mix of finance operating models, platforms and processes. Without standardised ways of working, overall visibility and consistent governance controls, manual work, delays and risk exposure may occur.

In addition, leadership and other departments across the business would not be able to quickly and effortlessly get the information they need from Finance for insightful decision making.

To support the growth it had achieved, and its future ambitions, Uniti needed to transform its finance function to have the best possible operating model, processes, visibility and governance – and all delivered in a way that enabled it to seamlessly scale up.

In looking at solution options, Uniti quickly realised that technology is just one piece of the transformation puzzle, and that an experienced implementation partner is critical to gaining the maximum benefits. This is when KPMG was engaged to help.

We looked at a couple of different implementation partners, but when we approached KPMG with the project, the standout thing for us was the ability to bring leading practice finance processes to the table.

Padraig Donnelly
Finance General Manager
Uniti Group

Working together: A powerful solution

While being an agile, growing business, Uniti wanted a very clear, structured transformation program, as it needed to bring a number of systems together and take a lot of people along on the change journey.

Uniti also specified that it didn’t want heavy process customisation, as it wanted to have the latest in leading practice processes, as well as to be able to scale up its finance operations seamlessly. KPMG's Powered Finance approach with Microsoft Dynamics 365 proved to be a great solution.

Delivering beyond the tools and technology, we offered Uniti a clear roadmap of the change program, from planning to decisions, build and testing. Then, together, we got started embracing the KPMG Powered Finance approach to help Uniti plan its ideal Target Operating Model (TOM).

Next, through a series of workshops, we helped Uniti to select its preferred processes from a suite of best-practice examples, only customising steps where truly necessary. This ‘adopt rather than adapt’ approach made decision making for Uniti much easier, and helped to accelerate implementation.

During this phase, we helped Uniti to automate numerous manual processes to save time and repetition for staff. We also built-in governance and controls, as well as setting up automated reporting to make decision making easy.

Partners through transformation: Change management key

Throughout these steps, we brought diverse expertise to the project, including project management, technical implementation, telecommunications industry knowledge, financial strategy, supply chain management and change management, ensuring that every business challenge had the right person to solve.

The KPMG and Uniti teams worked closely on change management to make sure people were engaged with the journey. 

The Uniti team were experienced with change, having been through such rapid growth, so they were open-minded and took to the new ways of working quickly. However, they still gained from knowing the vision for the change, its purpose, seeing a clear roadmap to reach the end goal, and participating in decision making along the way. This ensured the new approach truly worked for the people using it.

Business outcomes: More than just streamlined operations

As a result of the transformation, Uniti now has a streamlined finance operating model, the latest in finance processes and automation capabilities, and built-in governance and controls to reduce regulatory risk.

Finance is seeing a significant reduction in manual tasks and burdensome administration. It is gaining from improvement in the standardisation of data sets and can more easily share useful insights and collaborate with other parts of the business.

As a large, listed company, Uniti has greater reporting obligations, and the new approach ensures it meets these requirements much more efficiently. Importantly, it has a technology platform that is easily scalable to accommodate its continuing growth ambitions.

Without undertaking the transformation, we would have had to increase headcount significantly to manage the scale.

Padraig Donnelly

Broader business value: Extending into other functions

After the successful implementation into Finance, KPMG and Uniti saw potential to extend the transformation into Project Management.

Previously there was no connection between the finance and project management systems and exchange of information was manual.

With around 80 percent of Uniti’s profit coming from its wholesale and infrastructure business (based on FY21 EBITDA), Finance needed to have clear visibility of project costs and revenue.

With the systems now integrated, data can be more easily shared and analysed without manual steps required by staff.

Learning from change: Project insights

As with all transformations, the program had complexities and lessons for the future. 

For example, ensuring that finance data across the disparate systems was clean and ready to migrate to the new system took planning and care, and more time for Uniti’s team than they expected.

A positive was having a project manager within Uniti to coordinate internal and external agendas and needs, which kept things moving at pace.

Another benefit was having our team meet with executives from various Uniti business functions to get a ‘voice of the customer’ view on what they wanted from Finance. This made sure the transformation wasn’t just a success for Finance, but for the broader business.

A platform for the future: Set for more growth

With a standardised and seamlessly integrated finance function now in place, Uniti is well positioned for its current needs – and importantly, for its next phases of growth.

We’ve got a higher level of maturity now. This was all about enabling best in breed finance processes within an agile, entrepreneurial, large, listed business.

Padraig Donnelly

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