Ox Tools UK is a world-leading manufacturer of hand tools, diamond tools, workwear and safety products. Founded in Australia, as the UK operation expanded, it wanted a single platform to replace its legacy solutions. It used Orderwise (recently acquired by Forterro), Sage 50 and Salesforce CRM.

While OX Tools global was already using NetSuite, the company did consider other options. It considered Dynamics 365 briefly but, in the end, chose NetSuite alongside the implementation part BrightBridge. The pandemic impacted the business, and the implementation was paused in 2020 before being completed in July 2021. In elapsed time, the project took a little over 12 months.

This was not a simple project, it included a transformation of the business with the complication of moving from several different applications and additional integrations to solutions that were maintained as part of the transition to NetSuite. Brightbridge believes that it is a good example of how it has the skills to help similar organisations with siloed applications to make the move to a single, powerful integration platform.

One of the integrations was to NETSTOCK, an inventory management SuiteApp that the rest of the business uses as well. NETSTOCK is a hybrid application, rather than one developed on the NetSuite platform, though it has a tight integration to NetSuite. The company also deployed Jitterbit using the iPaaS solution to connect NetSuite with trading partners such as Travis Perkins, the National Merchant, Buying Society and City Plumbing Supplies.

NetSuite delivers global visibility and transparency

Since going live, OX Tools has realised the benefits of no longer having to maintain on-premise servers, which has freed up significant resources. The inference was that this was far more onerous than they believed. The company also have complete visibility and transparency across finance, stock and CRM systems using a single platform.

Donovan Payne, Director at Ox Tools
Donovan Payne, Director at Ox Tools

Donovan Payne, Director at Ox Tools, explained, “By having one central solution – NetSuite – we have naturally benefitted from more automated, slicker and accurate processes and accessing it from smartphones on the move is extremely useful. However, our primary aim was to gain visibility over each corner of the business and be 100 per cent sure that the data painted the true picture – with BrightBridge’s expertise we have certainly achieved that.

“The UK subsidiary was previously siloed from the rest of the global business in its architecture; now having spent 12-months having consolidated accounts with the other OX regions we can see, predict and strategically do so much more. I would recommend any companies in a similar position to plan their global platform transformation – it has been a game changer and a move that has become increasingly vital as global economic turmoil and supply chain challenges continue.”

Finding the right partner is important

Deciding to implement NetSuite when the rest of the organisation also had the solution seems obvious. What was possibly a harder decision was to identify and select a trusted implementation partner that OX Tools could work with to deliver the solution effectively. It selected BrightBridge, a partner of both NetSuite and Jitterbit, whom OX Tools believes has the skills to complete the complex transformation project.

The company has already developed a custom-made interface for managing multiple shipping carriers within NetSuite. This gave it an advantage over rivals as one of the potential project challenges was already overcome. During the project, BrightBridge helps to transform the business processes within OX Tools, eliminating manual processes with their potential for errors and delivering improved efficiency to operations. BrightBridge also has experience in delivering NetSuite solutions to other firms in manufacturing, retail and distribution for companies like Duckworth & Kent, Borg & Overström and Accora.

Payne added, “We were focused on the solution benefits at the start of our digital transformation project, and the company already had confidence in NetSuite. However, we quickly realised that it was equally as important, if not more, for our UK implementation partner to have specific sector expertise, possess in-depth knowledge about third-party tool integration and be easy to get along with. When we met the BrightBridge team, we simply knew the partnership was the right fit for us.”

Looking forward

The dust has settled on the initial project now. Ian Robertson, Sales and Marketing Director at BrightBridge, took a look back, saying, “Ox Tools came to us with a number of specific implementation and integration challenges, at a time when they were also feeling the challenge of not being able to find the right solution provider. We were able to quickly illustrate our team’s skills and experience of working on similar projects as well as build that all important rapport, giving them the utmost confidence in our ability to deliver.

“Our unique NetSuite app partnerships and own custom-made solutions allowed us to design the architecture rapidly and to confidently drive the project forward for Ox Tools. This digital transformation project is a great example of productivity enhancement and global strategic change we’re delighted Ox Tools are just as happy with the architecture 12-months on.”

However, as with any cloud-based solution, it is constantly updated and success is also measured by whether OX Tools will continue to invest in the platform, rather than let it drift. NetSuite announce innovations every year at SuiteWorld as OX Tools continue to invest in the platform. Their next area of improvement is to look for and invest in a business intelligence solution. Will they look at Suite Analytics and the recently launched NetSuite Analytics Warehouse or leverage a third-party solution?

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Many of the NetSuite customer stories are several years old. They also name organisations that are rapidly growing startups replacing immature solutions. OX Tools was a more mature organisation using mature tools such as Salesforce and OrderWise that it could have grown further with.

However, the decision to move to NetSuite is one that could concern Salesforce if other companies also opt for a full platform solution. While there are manufacturing ERP solutions on Salesforce, such as Rootstock, that they didn’t consider them is concerning.

This is a good UK success story for both NetSuite and BrightBridge. It shows how the platform approach simplifies, to an extent, the software architecture in a firm, delivering  transparency across the organisation.


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