October 29, 2014 Ken Jacobsen

Assemble-to-stock Manufacturing Company Streamlined Sales, Ordering, Inventory and Production with Microsoft Dynamics NAV

The Michigan-based U.S. subsidiary of an Italian lubrication system and component builder, which also has an office in the U.K. and a sister company in Cincinnati, was looking to improve the state of its enterprise resource planning affairs. The business has a niche in the lubrication field, providing a variety of systems to keep machinery in many different industries running. The company fills both assemble-to-stock requests for its commonly used products and components, as well as assemble-to-order requests for more unique or complicated systems for clients. The wide variety of orders and industries covered means that there are many different options involved in sales, stocking and assembly.

The problems
The company’s operations in Italy and its office in the U.K. had both already implemented Microsoft Dynamics NAV and saw positive results. The U.S. subsidiary was using ACCPAC, an outdated ERP system that forced employees to create workarounds to many different processes. These resulted in additional time and effort invested into what should be simple solutions.

One of the most glaring problems was with the processes used by the sales engineer teams, which travel the country and provide quotes to prospective clients as well as determining technical needs. With the previous system, a variety of patches and workarounds that didn’t fully integrate provided only partial functionality to the sales engineers. They had to spend time retyping quotes, repeatedly finding the same costs for entry into different parts of the system and keeping track of shared portable drives. The cobbled-together process also left a lot of room for data entry errors. The engineers themselves believed the system was killing productivity.

Other significant issues included a lack of end-to-end visibility for orders and a lack of inventory control. It was, simply, hard to track material as it moved through the system. Because the company uses many specialty parts shipped from the parent organization in Italy, it receives a quarterly shipment on a cargo ship, as well as small orders through air delivery. The lack of insight into inventory meant costly deliveries of parts that weren’t always needed. They were using outside solutions such as Microsoft Excel and Access to track operations that the old ERP system couldn’t. ACCPAC didn’t provide the functionality necessary for the company to reach maximum visibility, and ongoing support was spotty at best. This left the employees and the executive team with bad feelings toward it.

The solution
The business, after consultation with the TM Group, decided to implement the newest version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV available at the time, 2013 R2. With just the functionality included in the system’s starter pack, a variety of advantages were made available.

The sales problem of re-entering information and slow, cumbersome processes – generating a sales quote could take as long as two hours – was replaced by a linear system that not only quickly generated accurate quotes, but also shared the rest of the information across the business. The information can travel from quote, to order, and then to assembly and shipping seamlessly. With NAV in place, the sales engineers could generate a quote within 20 minutes and pass that information along to a make-to-order request and could be instantly recalled when future orders were placed.

When it came to inventory visibility, NAV provided a significant benefit. With the ability to track everything currently in the system as well as inbound items, the business can generate a “currently available” calculation. This report makes sure that their overseas orders from the parent company – costly by themselves and even more so due to duties and tariffs on the internationally shipped items – are limited to what’s needed.

The addition of a CRM module was another major change. The business moved from a disjointed and informal system based around Microsoft Outlook to a structured CRM that helped manage the needs of employees and met the requirements of operation without the expenditure of implementing a standalone CRM system. NAV’s CRM capabilities even integrate with Outlook to help make the transition to the system easier.

The expert guidance and executive buy-in
One of the biggest parts of a successful implementation is getting involvement and acceptance from the top levels of the company. The company’s director of marketing, sales and operations knew from experience that the old ERP system was a liability and quickly bought into the possibilities of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. With strong, positive leadership from the top down, the implementation was a snap. Less than a day after the major training session, the director put NAV into action by generating a complicated, $80,000 quote for a client – and he did it in just 20 minutes, saving serious time.

With the knowledge and experience of the TM Group in play, implementation and training were both successful and quick, helping employees understand new functions and how they benefit business processes. The ongoing support from the TM Group will help the company as it develops its ERP system in the future.

Originally published on www.erpsoftwareblog.com.


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