The process of selecting the best ERP solution for your company is prone with difficulties and for IT leaders it is often the single most important decision that they can make on behalf of that company.
Guardian Chemicals faced a problem many companies that experience growth have done, as Brandon Gabert Information Systems Manager for Guardian Chemicals, recalls: “Our legacy software was no longer meeting our needs. … Our business processes were evolving and becoming more complex and the software couldn’t accommodate the growing and evolving aspects of our business.”
ERP: pleasant dream or nightmare
Guardian Chemicals was founded in 1961 and while still privately owned has grown to become a multimillion dollar chemical research, development and manufacturer of industrial cleaning and speciality chemicals based in Fort Saskatchewan Alberta, Canada. The company is divided into four main divisions: industrial, water treatment, forestry and wood products it also services the oil and gas production markets.
This diversification of target markets and with over 400 products servicing those markets, Gabert’s challenge to find a new ERP solution would not have been easy, it is a situation that could have led to him having nightmares
ERP Software or ERP partner?
Gabert looked at several competitors to Sage ERP X3, including Microsoft Dynamics, SAP Business One and Datacor’s Chempax, a specialised ERP solution for the chemical industry. Selecting the best solution is often not just about choosing the software. Where companies are willing to amend their business processes slightly, most software solutions can be implemented successfully. Gabert believes that Sage was not the only software that would have been successful at Guardian.
More important is the relationship that the buyer has with the supplier and with the Sage partner “The Answer Company”, they found a supplier who delivered on their marketing promises. As Gabert commented: “When we spoke with The Answer Company, who represented Sage ERP X3, we were instantly impressed by their knowledge of our industry. They spoke our language.”
This relationship has continued to develop over the last few months, helped by the way that The Answer Company successfully delivered the solution in a very short time frame, completing the whole implementation within five months. To accomplish this Gabert recalls “The Answer Company worked closely with our internal team. Their experience and the resources they dedicated to our project helped ensure it was a success.”
Once an implementation has been completed some companies are jaded by the constant pressure such an implementation causes. For business leaders nowadays the only constant should be change however. Guardian Chemicals seem to understand this and Gabert has continued to work with The Answer Company to ensure that the ERP solution continues to move forward. “We have a great ongoing relationship with The Answer Company,” concludes Gabert. “We use them to brainstorm ideas … They remain a major player in our success.”
Sage ERP X3 benefits to Guardian Chemicals
Once implemented the Sage ERP X3 solution not only allowed Guardian Chemicals access to a manufacturing suite but also to the tools they needed for both their sales and distribution business functions. Historically multiple disconnected systems controlled these different elements with Work Orders, Invoicing and Quality control all separately accessed.
As Gabert explains: “We’ve reduced the number of data silos, giving us one version of the truth…We are even able to easily customize and configure the software to meet specific needs, and those customizations aren’t affected by software upgrades–which is fantastic.”
These were not the only benefits, as the solution continues to be improved delivering improved forecasting and production planning. For the business itself this has meant improved productivity and no doubt, though not confirmed, some cost savings as well. Gabert confirms this saying: “We’ve seen a definite rise in overall productivity … Our old system was cumbersome and difficult to use, so we relied on a small number of “gatekeeper” employees to do the majority of the work in the application. Sage ERP X3 is so easy to learn and to use that we’ve opened it up to everyone. The employees responsible for a task are those doing the data entry. It simply makes sense, and it starts a chain of efficiency that flows throughout the organization.”
Focus on Quality
One of Guardian Chemicals Inc. values is quality. They believe that quality is defined in terms of People, Product and Service. They were the first ever speciality chemical company to qualify for the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Quality Control Certification under specification Z.299-4-1979. They have also been ISO 9001 certified since 2008.
For Guardian Chemicals quality is an ongoing process and the Sage implementation has significantly improved their controls which previously relied on spreadsheets. Gabert confirmed “Sage ERP X3 has complete QC functionality built in. From testing raw materials through the finished product, we’ve got the detailed information we need to ensure the consistent quality of our products.”
With commission reports previously only available once invoicing was completed the new solution has also improved the Sales support systems. “Before our salespeople would have to wait until the end of the month for a simple commission report,” notes Gabert. “Now they can monitor every order as it comes in. That has to be motivating.” As Guardian Chemicals are private it is unlikely that any results of this increased performance will be made public. However the improved sales tracking should allow sales management to keep a closer eye on their teams.
The implementation that Gabert and The Answer Company have delivered with Sage ERP X3 at Guardian Chemicals appears to be very successful. No doubt there were some teething problems and challenges during the implementation. Many IT leaders have nightmares about ERP implementations, it appears that with the help of The Answer Company Gabert will be having at least one pleasant dream.