Meet Keith Duckworth
National Careers Week 2022 kicks off today, which is about empowering positive change through careers education, so we’ve taken inspiration from this to talk to a number of our team members about their roles and career journeys. For business owners and senior managers thinking about moving their organisation on to an integrated cloud business system, our interviews will give you great insight into the process ahead of you.
If Oracle NetSuite is the solution for you, then you may be lucky enough to engage with Keith Duckworth, one of our Senior NetSuite ERP Consultants, who is first up in our series of team interviews. And if you’re an experienced ERP consultant like Keith, you might be inspired to join our team, so check out our current job vacancy.
Over to you, Keith…
Have you always worked with computers and software?
No, my first ever job – back in 1978 – was in insurance. I was a motor underwriter for a large insurance company and sometime after I moved on to work for an insurance broker. I can remember we’d have to get all the books out and manually work out the costs, but as computers started coming in, we’d input the details and it would spit out the options. I was very lucky as by the mid-80s the broker implemented the absolute top system available. It was way ahead of its time and I guess I was just very interested in it and I taught myself everything about the software.
As some of the branches were going to be closing, one day the MD called me and said, ‘you’re good with the computers, do you want to be a trainer and teach everyone else?’. I didn’t know there was such a job because I’d taught myself! He said I’d be great and I was grateful he’d gone to the effort of finding me another job. I made the jump to work for the computer software company, and I found it easy to relate to people as I’d done their job. I did a lot of travelling and in 1998, because I had a young family, I started a Sage Consultant and Trainer job closer to home. I understood many different business models by then, so it was a case of getting to know the software and I found it an easy transition. Unfortunately, that company went under, and a subsequent move to a very large company wasn’t right for me – I hated just being a number – so I have been happy at smaller solution partners since, learning NetSuite on the way. I’ve been a NetSuite Consultant now for over 10 years, working for various NetSuite Partners in the UK and I’ve been at BrightBridge for just over four and a half years.
Tell us about your role at BrightBridge?
I’m there from the very start of a customer’s project and I suppose I’m the architect that holds the knowledge of NetSuite’s capabilities. I work extremely closely with the customer to get under the skin of their business and their requirements, and I advise on what’s possible out-of-the-box, what needs to be customised or scripted and what alternative ways the goal can be reached – for example, by integrating third-party software through an API or utilising a built-for-NetSuite app, such as NextService. I work with the Project Manager to plan timescales and the technical team for special configurations.
Gathering the requirements and feedback can take weeks depending on the size of the business as I must speak to every department. It’s also important for me to identify gaps that only emerge through this process and add them to the scope. The team and I then build out the solution and as areas are completed in the test sandbox, the people in the business get their hands on the system. This is where my training background shines, and I really enjoy teaching people how NetSuite is going to soon change their lives! Or I train the trainers that go out into the wider business. But basically, the process is a) fact finding and solution design, b) building and configuring NetSuite, c) training, which identifies challenges or further scope gaps and d) further development. This cycle continues until the system meets the business’ needs and we move to ‘go-live’.
The day before a company switches over to NetSuite is the crucial one for me as every single piece of open business has to be transferred, mainly via CSV exports and imports. Orders, invoices, stock, financials – you name it – must be perfect, ready for trading the next day. So sometimes that’s a late night! Then I’m always on hand – often on site with them – on the day of ‘go-live’ and beyond to answer any and every question imaginable. We’ve just celebrated getting Monro live on NetSuite and I’m working on UK Flooring Direct and Kamado Joe’s projects amongst others. When one of our existing customers requires an addition or change to their NetSuite set-up, the process is very similar.
What skills would you say an ERP Consultant requires?
They must be confident – gregarious and not shy! When you’re speaking to the C-suite team of a multi-million – or billion – pound company, they must be one hundred per cent certain that you have no doubts about the solution and design. It’s a big step and from one day to the next, it must be business as usual. While I don’t think friends and family would necessarily describe me as patient, I really am in my job. Any business can have the best software with all the bells and whistles, but if it’s not being used correctly then it’s a wasted investment. That’s one of the best skills a Consultant can have, and as I said, I really value this part of my role – I’m helping people to do their jobs more easily and businesses to thrive.
Whether you’re a software user or a professional in our field, don’t forget to come back over the next few weeks to hear from project managers, solution architects, technical consultants and support analysts about their roles and career journeys. And if you’re interested in learning more about how NetSuite can transform your business, contact us by clicking here, and Keith could be working within your team to gather requirements in a matter of weeks.