Queensland Rugby League
Replacing legacy accounting software with an enterprise SaaS solution helped Queensland Rugby League get a clearer view of its financials and embrace operational agility.
From grassroots footy in the Torres Strait Islands through to the mighty Queensland Maroons, Queensland Rugby League (QRL) excels in engaging and inspiring people through the sport of rugby league.
QRL is a for-purpose organisation responsible for governing and administering the sport across Queensland. It fosters community involvement, develops talented players, runs competitions for juniors through to statewide men’s and women’s teams, and organises elite representative teams.
Chief Financial Officer Graham Maher said an internal push to professionalise and modernise its operations meant QRL needed better systems to improve efficiency and accountability.
“There was a lot of duplication, a lot of paper-based activity, and a lot of poorly controlled activity—it harkened back to the 70s, with a lot of manual processes,” Maher said.
“We’re a $35 million dollar business and we work with global partners like Puma, BHP and Shell. Partners want to know that we’re good at what we do and be able to understand what we do with their partnership funding.
“We had outgrown MYOB, which had limited functionality and was very manual in terms of distributing financial information.
“The speed of decision-making was not what you’d expect of an organisation with such extensive and geographically dispersed operations.
“We wanted a platform that would give budget holders ownership—give them access to their numbers on a day-to-day basis—so they can make decisions about costs and program delivery without having to come to a member of the Senior Leadership Team or the CFO.”
Queensland Rugby League adopted TechnologyOne’s OneCare Software as a Service (SaaS) solution to manage its financials, HR and payroll functions.
The organisation went to market with the goal of strengthening its financial systems and providing a better staff experience. QRL’s CFO and HR leader were both involved in the selection process and charged with evaluating a number of vendors before choosing TechnologyOne.
“The flexibility and configuration capabilities were key drivers. Most systems are capable of recording transactions, but for us it was about how we get information out of the system,” Maher said.
QRL also valued the design and accessibility of TechnologyOne’s SaaS platform, which can be used on any device, anywhere and at any time.
“With a geographically dispersed workforce, we wanted something that would allow for better communication, better approval processes, and better control, which I think we’ve achieved through the implementation of Financials, HR and Payroll.
“Also, being web-based and similar to other tile-based interfaces—it’s really easy for people to use.”
Queensland Rugby League has achieved greater accuracy, productivity gains, and improved agility across its 90-plus team by adopting a fully integrated SaaS ERP solution.
Maher said the solution had made “over the top and onerous” manual sign-off and data entry steps a thing of the past.
“Now, people aren't having to double or triple handle things. It's done once and then they can move on to the next task.
QRL has standardised and automated many functions, including accounts payable workflows, which has saved the organisation many hours of effort.
“Previously, there'd be a whole raft of costs that we'd have to accrue on a monthly basis, because invoices weren't getting to us in time. Whereas now, it’s simply in the system already,” Maher said.
“We now know what our liability position looks like, and what our cash forecast looks like. Externally, it’s also given our suppliers confidence in getting paid on time, every time.”
Financial reporting is more accessible across QRL, leading to better decision-making and fewer bottlenecks across the organisation.
“It was really about making people accountable for their budgets. To do that, you’ve got the give them better visibility, better ownership and better tools,” Maher said.
“Rather than wait for finance to give them the numbers, interrogate them and make a decision for them—budget owners come to us now with solutions around funding and program delivery. They’ve already done the work to identify savings.”
QRL’s finance team has been empowered to dissect data to provide meaningful insights to its leadership team and Board.
“We've got something like 30 cost centres across the state: we can look at these individually, and within those, by program. It's pretty powerful,” Maher said.
“If I want to look at an invoice, it's in the system. I don't have to go and find a paper file somewhere. It's all those little bits and pieces that make it easy.
“It's given us time back to do other things that are more valuable to the board and business in terms of forecasting and planning for the business, as opposed to just turning a handle on historical operations.”
All staff have access to self-service features, simplifying how QRL manages HR and payroll.
“People can make their own leave applications, change their own bank details, and all those sorts of things. Having 90 people do one task each is better than having one person do the same task 90 times.
“TechnologyOne’s platform has also made a massive difference in terms of managing documentation around career and monthly success conversations.”
We’ve been able to do some unique things: like measuring the cost of a particular game in a particular round, through the program ledger functionality within TechnologyOne.
Queensland Rugby League’s perspective
Putting in place a system that would help QRL grow its business and realise its long-term strategy was essential, according to CFO Graham Maher.
“I think it's easy to change systems, but if you're not working out what problems you're trying to solve, then you're really just implementing something for the sake of it,” he said.
“It means that people are using one platform for all their bits and pieces. Having the ability to streamline tasks, approval workflows and payments in the system takes things off people’s desks and out of their email inboxes.”
Being able to configure the system to meet QRL’s specific requirements has also been beneficial.
“We’ve been able to do some unique things: like measuring the cost of a particular game in a particular round, through the program ledger functionality within TechnologyOne,” Maher said.
“We can see what a particular team costs to move around the state at any given point in time.
“If you’re putting together a draw and you want to move a team from Cairns to Rockhampton, or Brisbane to PNG—and it costs 25% more to do it in one month compared to another—understanding those costs adds flexibility to decision-making.”
QRL valued partnering with one vendor to purchase, implement and support its solution, especially TechnologyOne’s willingness to have “open and honest conversations”.
“The fact that TechnologyOne is local, that’s a help. They understood what our aims were and what our needs were. If I reflect on the other vendors we looked at, they didn't really sell us on how they would support us to implement. And that was one of the key things for us.
“We knew that we could pick up the phone and ask questions. We knew that we could say if something was not working—that we needed to change the way we're going about things.”
A collaborative approach proved vital to overcoming challenges during the implementation such as initial resourcing hurdles, and the need to balance the competing demands of QRL’s finance and HR implementation timelines.
“We never lost faith in the TechnologyOne team through the process. It took time for some things, but it was all about how we solved problems together. It’s that willingness to work together that made the relationship work,” Maher said.
QRL is more confident in its ability to deal with operational challenges since moving to TechnologyOne’s SaaS platform. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation was able to quickly adjust to changed conditions and a reduced budget.
“It allowed us to get a handle on what our underlying operating costs were, so we could quickly dissect our cost base and cut back to a bare-bones operation as we worked through our COVID planning.”
Spotlight on SaaS
Mobility was a priority for QRL, given that around half of its workforce is located in remote and regional areas: including the Torres Strait Islands in the north, Mt Isa in the west, and towns like Townsville, Emerald, and Rockhampton.
Implementing TechnologyOne’s SaaS platform gives QRL staff the flexibility to work from anywhere and seamlessly move between devices.
“It has made it easier to collaborate. Two people can view the same screen in different locations and are able to talk about it or share their screen and coach people through things,” Maher said.
“One of my greatest frustrations in my first few years at QRL was that for me to do a Board report I had to download data onto my laptop to take it with me when I travelled and if someone changed something in the background, I’d have to download it again when I got back.
“Now, with Wi-Fi, I can just tether my laptop to my phone and be working on it live while sitting in a car, airport lounge or hotel room.”
TechnologyOne’s secure and scalable cloud architecture offers QRL greater peace of mind.
“Our partnership with AWS enables us to deliver Queensland Rugby League the ability to rapidly scale, and a superior level of security to an on-premise environment," said Daniel Sultana, Director of TechnologyOne’s SaaS Platform.
Maher added, “Having the data security that's provided through Software as a Service is key. There's a lot of risk associated with on-premise—if your IT system goes down or your servers get corrupted, how is your information protected?”
“Our auditors are quite comfortable now with how our data is maintained and secured.”
About Queensland Rugby League
The Queensland Rugby Football League (QRL) is the governing body for rugby league in Queensland. It is a member of the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARL Commission) and selects the members of the Queensland rugby league team.
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