Infor recently announced that Triumph Motorcycles had selected the Infor LN suite of modules to help transform the business. Enterprise Times spoke to Geoff Hurst, CIO at Triumph Motorcyles about the decisions made during the process.
A Triumph for on-premises over cloud?
There has been a trend recently among manufacturing companies to eschew on cloud implementations in favour of ERP. For Triumph to deploy Infor as an on-premises solution was interesting. Infor themselves are trying to push the cloud agenda with their clients. Methodologies such as Lift and Shift have been helping companies migrate to the Infor cloud. So why did Hurst and the team at Triumph motorcycles decide to deploy on-premises?
Hurst has a clear ambition of where he wants to get to. He knows the risk of customisation having built the Triumph ERP solution over the last twenty years. In the new Infor solution he is looking to minimise if not eliminate customisations. While he doesn’t believe that it will be possible now, the aim is to take the ERP solution to the point where rather than being hosted it can be deployed in the cloud.
This is a sensible approach and one that Infor is well able to adapt to, especially with Infor IoN, that Hurst sees as a key component on the implementation. Infor Ion is middleware that can sit between various Infor and non Infor software components acting as a transaction and data packet messaging service to enable business solutions to fit together.
Triumph are at the beginning of the implementation phase of the project. Hurst has just stepped down as CIO and is now Chief Design Officer at Triumph, he will still be a key part of the project team for the this massive project that will support 1600 users across 24 countries. We asked Hurst about how the project begun.
Persistent work triumphs – Virgil
Hurst believes that they were “extraordinarily diligent” in their approach to this ERP project. Triumph wrote the bulk of its manufacturing ERP system in-house. The majority of the software is written in ILE RPG and runs on AS400 computers. It has grown organically and each country has added their own modifications to the core product.
There are two ways of looking at this. It could be described as a mess (our words) or the ultimate global ERP, specialised for the company within each country. However you describe it, it was time for a change. The first thing that Hurst did was to investigate what was out there and discover “What good looks like”. They went overseas with a sense of what they wanted to achieve and took the time to understand it themselves. At the end of that phase they had a comprehensive set of documentation about their requirements.
This meant that even before they started looking at a list of vendors they could whittle them down based on some key criteria and capabilities. Hurst said that they had several requirements that included:
- Pre-requisite functionality
- Previous relevant experience in the industry
- A global footprint: This meant they wanted a vendor who had the capability to deliver the solution direct to their local subsidiaries and not use local partners. This meant that their final shortlist included SI’s as well as ERP vendors.
After a comprehensive selection process they chose Infor LN and selected pretty much the whole suite of products including:
- Improved customer experience
- Supply chain synch
- Real time reporting
- DEPM reporting
- Infor Ming.le
- Infor Ion
Why did Infor triumph
In some ways Infor Ion is one of the most important of these products. Hurst is looking for Ion to interface with their channel. The dealers are independent, running their own DMS (Dealer Management Systems). Ion enables Triumph to integrate those dealers with Infor LN. This will make life easier for dealers in countries such as Brazil, whose fiscal regulations demand electronic interfacing. It is only one of several countries to work in such a way. It is likely that others will follow.
What Infor is enabling is a complete ERP system replacement. Nick Bloor, CEO, Triumph Motorcycles Limited commented: “We are committed to embracing the next phase of our growth with the very best tools to deliver on our vision, and Infor’s modern technology platform, combined with applications designed specifically for the needs of automotive manufacturers, will equip us with a single platform from which to run our global manufacturing operations efficiently and flexibly.”
We asked Hurst why Infor was eventually selected. He gave three reasons:
- Triumph liked the architectural approach. Infor had to learn how to link things together. This bodes well for linking in the disparate DMS systems
- Their level of interest and commitment, this went all the way to the top. Triumph can influence Infor around the world.
- The Product Set itself. Triumph wanted a system that was “enjoyable”. Hurst said that he felt really strongly that he didn’t want a spreadsheet he wanted something else
So was there anything Hurst would have changed about their selection process? Hurst commented: “Do it quicker”. The RFP was issued in November 2014 and Hurst said that educating the business took a long time. Interestingly there was an inference that this could not have been rushed or omitted. Since the deal has been signed the early stages of the project have gone well. Kick off meetings with Infor have occurred and Hurst believes everything has lived up to expectations.
Four stages of implementation
Hurst described the four stages that they would be going through.
- The creation of a blueprint for Triumph Motorcycles. This will match the out of box solution against the global business best practices. A country by country roll out with localisations is then competed.
- This will be customer orientated. CRM and S&OP (Sales and order processing) will be implemented. Delivering solutions through dealers and customers. Hurst confirmed that this would not be big bang across the world but was likely to be on a country by country or region by region basis.
- Manufacturing and Supply Chain. Triumph are very well vertically integrated and do much of the heavy engineering themselves. They therefore did not consider GT Nexus as part of the solution.
- Back Office : Mainly Finance.
Hurst hesitated to use this implementation as transformation. Yet the intention is not to repeat what they have done in the past. They have looked at the best practices around the world and they will be reviewing their processes globally with the intention to make them better and faster.
For customers this is not just getting a great product, the system should look to do more than that. Hurst commented that they need: “…to step up on the information they can provide customers. We have great people on the staff who make things happen but it takes too long to engage with them.”
Hurst gave the example that customers would be able to modify their motorbikes while they were moving through the production line. This would be subject to gatekeepers and processes but for the customer who changes his mind or wants an upgrade this is taking discrete manufacturing to a new level. Dealerships could also become gatekeepers and they will be integrated into the system. Customers who want to change from a red to a blue bike at a later stage will just talk to their dealer.
Surprisingly mobile was not top of their agenda. They will roll out mobile devices and apps but only where they add value. The intention is to make sure that staff work in the most simple and effective way. There is also no IoT integration in this first phase. Hurst believes it will happen just not yet. This is partly because motorcycles are behind cars for IoT. It will be advanced technology on the shop floor integrated in to shop floor planning that will happen first.
With an implementation completion date of 2019 it will be interesting to see whether Triumph attend future Inforum events as customer speakers to describe their journey. Some might see their decision to completely replace their ERP solution as brave. Hurst made it clear during our discussion that this is seen as a business rather than IT project though. That they are hosting the solution themselves is largely irrelevant to the process. It is only because Hurst has an overall technical view of Cloud that he has the vision to see where Triumph might need to be in a few years time.
What will be interesting to see is whether Infor can accomplish what Triumph need through configuration rather than customisation. Ideally Triumph will want to see any customisations make their way into the core cloud product. If this happens the next project is likely to be migration to the cloud.