The Ageas Bowl, the home of Hampshire Cricket, is at the forefront of innovation within sport and leisure. The expansive venue incorporates the 171-bedroom Hilton at the Ageas Bowl hotel, BEEFY’S by Sir Ian Botham Bar & Restaurant, Lakeview Sports Bar, luxury eforea spa, the Hampshire Wellbeing Centre and the stunning 18-hole Boundary Lakes Golf Course.


As a business, Hampshire Sport & Leisure Holdings – of which The Ageas Bowl is the venue and commercial operation – thrives on being cutting edge and aims to embrace technology to drive the business forward.


One area within the business where technology was the focus recently was within the finance function. The finance team were operating on two different legacy systems – Exchequer and Microsoft Dynamics Navision – and the situation was holding the business back in two vital ways; firstly, that they didn’t ‘speak’ to each other and, secondly, that they were – as Group Finance Director, Mike Lashmar puts it – “yesterday” systems rather than “today and tomorrow” systems.

“We were spending too much time processing data and not enough time interpreting data and using it to add value to the business. We were spending too much time getting the accounts rather than acting upon them.”

Mike Lashmar, Group Financial Director


Moving forward, functionality and automation were at the forefront of Mike’s mind, with the wish list including automated invoice processing and direct bank feeds. There was also the overall objective of maximising the value added by any new system,

“We wanted to save time and undertake processes more efficiently, but we didn’t want to ‘spend’ all of the efficiencies gained on the cost of a new system, or else we would have been no further forward financially.” says Mike.

As Mike and his team knew from the outset that they wanted the new system to be cloud-based, they shortlisted four alternatives, and Oracle NetSuite, provided specifically by Eureka Solutions, quickly became the front runner.

NetSuite was always going to be on The Ageas Bowl’s radar, as it is used and advocated by the other leading organisations in sport. However, it was the combination of the right solution and the right provider that was most important, as Mike explains,


“The Eureka Solutions guys were upfront from the start about pricing and deliverables and were very responsive to our requirements in comparison to some other providers we spoke to. This established trust early on and this approach has stuck throughout the process. Having a partner I could trust was a massive influence on my decision.”


An additional dimension was brought to the project with the restructuring of the business (Hampshire Sport & Leisure Holdings) in tandem with the implementation of the new NetSuite system, with the aim of simplifying the structure of what is essentially a very complex business where there are multiple concurrent activities driving commercial value from the estate. The NetSuite set up reflects this and takes up the “strain” of the complexity.


COVID added its own challenges to the implementation, but did not interrupt input from Eureka Solutions, who delivered a successful project remotely.


In assessing the difference NetSuite has made to financial operations at The Ageas Bowl, Mike likens it to comparing a new smart phone with a first-generation mobile phone, explaining

NetSuite is so intuitive and makes it to easy to play around with your data … which we accountants love! We can not only rely on the data, but we can also drill down into it easily, it’s very user friendly. Producing reports and processing are both just quicker and easier. The entire business is speaking the same ‘language’ now.”

The benefits gained from the new NetSuite solution are clear. The efficiency gains expected via the automation of processes have been realised and, during lockdown, the team was able to continue with no interruption due to browser based ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to the entire system.


Mike outlines an additional benefit,


We’ve been so impressed by our ability to ‘manipulate’ the system to our needs. With our old systems, they were what they were, but we can actively adjust things in the NetSuite system configuration to make it suit our processes rather than have it dictate our processes. That’s a really important benefit for us.”


In addition to the core NetSuite system, The Ageas Bowl use two NetSuite ‘SuiteApps’ to further enhance its value – ‘Fast Four Scan & Capture’, to automate the creation of vendor bills and credits, and ‘Solution 7’, which provides a two-way integration between NetSuite and Excel, helping to create flexible budgeting and forecasting models.


Eureka Solutions has also used their own integration expertise and proprietary integration tool ‘Cloud Data Exchange’ to integrate The Ageas Bowl’s NetSuite solution with ‘ProcureWizard’, enabling e-procurement, and an additional integration with the Hilton hotel’s reporting system ‘OnQ’ is also in the planning.


While the project was made more complex by the simultaneous business restructure, Mike found that working with the Eureka Solutions team lived up to his initial high expectations,


We trust the guys at Eureka Solutions, they certainly know their stuff and if any problems come up at our end, they are promptly on hand to help resolve them. They clearly all have a very thorough understanding of our system and are simply very decent people. We have already recommended Eureka Solutions to other businesses looking for an ERP partner.”

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