Plumbing Image by Steve Buissinne from PixabayInfor continues to win business in France. Its latest success is at the COVAP cooperative (Comptoir Vendéen des Artisans Plombiers). COVAP is a plumbers’ purchasing cooperative based in the Vendée region of France. COVAP has selected and is deploying the Infor CloudSuite Distribution Enterprise. Together with the assistance of Authentic Group, an Infor Certified Partner. The project is due to be completed in December 2024.

In the beginning

The project began in 2022 with COVAP looking to replace a legacy ERP solution, RUBIS, from DL Negoce, an IBM technology. DL Negoce has since merged with BTP to become Orisha and is focused on the construction industry.

Stéphane Droulin, IT Manager at COVAP, commented, “We wanted to replace our business management system, which was becoming obsolete and hampering our development, by a true ERP trading system. We, therefore, consulted several software vendors on the market, including Infor, which had an excellent knowledge of our business and a reputation in functional terms.”

In early 2023, COVAP had narrowed the choice down to three ERP solutions, all suitable for the industry in which it works.

COVAP is made up of 530 member organisations that need access to products and services on an equitable basis with fair and consistent pricing. Founded in 1982, the organisation has six agencies which contain products from over 500 suppliers. With 15,000 items in stock across the business and access to over 150,000 in total, it needed a distribution-centric ERP solution to meet its needs. The product would also need to support four showrooms, a 14,000-square-meter storage platform, 20 lorries, and an automatic warehouse (TK Miniload).

The Warehouse is managed by Reflex WMS, a solution it purchased in 2015. It wanted an ERP solution that would integrate with this application. Using Reflex, COVAP can now process 60 orders at once, far more than the eight it achieved in 2015. The challenge was that the ERP solution was not the bottleneck. Leveraging Infor OS, Authentic will be able to integrate REFLEX to Infor CloudSuite.

The Selection

Droulin picks up the story of the selection, adding, “The duo of Infor and its partner Authentic (led by Charles Fanton and Olivier Fournaud) was quickly put in place, and, once again, they demonstrated their experience in our business, particularly in their ability to support us in this strategic project to overhaul our processes to bring them into line with market best practices. The functional aspect and the scalability of the solution through regular updates were also part of the decisive factors in our choice.”

COVAP chose a solution that is based in a public cloud, AWS in this case, giving it the ability to scale further should it choose to do so. It also means that updates, previously a pain point, will flow into the system automatically. These will enable COVAP to manage just the change management rather than a complex IT project with downtime and costs. After all, IT support is not what COVAP was set up to deliver. And yet, like many other organisations, it found it had to dedicate time and resources to this. Once deployed, COVAP can focus on strategic improvements to its systems that align with business strategy.

The project

The contract was signed in July 2023. The project to roll out the solution across its 181 employees started in September 2023. Authentic will deploy several modules from Infor, including Cloud Suite Distribution Enterprise, Infor Sales Hub and Infor Factory Track.

Besides REFLEX WMS, the Infor solution will also integrate into the COVAP web portal. It will also replace several currently interconnected solutions with a single platform. This will enable the organisation to have a better view across the business. It will provide the ability to report on all aspects of the business using a single enterprise data management (EDM) repository.

Infor will provide capabilities that will allow the organisation to improve and standardise its processes across over-the-counter sales, mobility in branches for managing receipts, deliveries and all internal logistics activities using portable terminals and barcode scanning.

Authentic has helped French distribution organisations to deploy and migrate to Infor Cloud Solutions. Exadis, an auto parts distributor, migrated its ERP to Infor Cloud with the help of Authentic. That experience clearly proved useful.

Fabrice Caumette, Delivery Director at Authentic, commented, “Distribution is at the heart of our expertise. We will work closely with COVAP’s functional teams to ensure they take ownership of the solution and make this project successful. To do this, we organized several scoping workshops, which gave us a clear picture of their business expectations, particularly regarding warehouse mobility and omnichannel capabilities.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Jérôme Ternois, Infor senior sales director for France
Jérôme Ternois, Infor senior sales director for France

Jérôme Ternois, Infor Senior Sales Director for France, concluded, “We are delighted to count among our customers a company like COVAP, a cooperative founded on principles and values that resonate with us. Deployed in a multi-tenant public cloud environment hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), our CloudSuite should enable them to accelerate their development while getting their teams involved in a new management dynamic that will benefit everyone, particularly in terms of speed of order processing, traceability, support and efficiency in after-sales service, flexibility of financial transactions and monitoring of supplier performance.”

This is another good, and this time, competitive win for Infor in Europe. The decision to retain the deeply embedded REFLEX solution as its WMS is no surprise. Still, it demonstrates that ERP vendors must have access to strong integration capabilities as firms continue to demand hybrid architectures. The adaptability of the Infor solution and the ability to integrate it into other solutions is a strength. Whilst the Infor WMS is a strong one, the decision to retain REFLEX WMS and integrate the Infor ERP is a sensible one.

The hard work, though, is just beginning with Authentic, Infor, and COVAP personnel all required to work hard to make the project a success. Once complete, this will make an interesting case study, just because of the various challenges faced, system replacement, integration and change management, just three of them.

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