Real Businesses Share Their ERP Success Stories
When implementing a new ERP your solutions and strategies must always be driven by the org’s unique set of pain points and priorities.
When implementing a new ERP your solutions and strategies must always be driven by the org’s unique set of pain points and priorities.
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Too often, the ERP conversation focuses too much on high failure rates and lofty, but vague promises re: AI and automation, or the hidden power locked inside existing data sets.
These tried-and-true bullet points strike the perfect balance between fear and possibility – aka they’re great for selling massively expensive enterprise software.
The problem is, every organization defines success in a different way. Ultimately, you want to find an ERP solution that enables you to achieve your immediate business goals – and provides the flexibility you need to expand and evolve your operation over time.
The reality of this situation is complex and overwhelming. This article features seven diverse ERP success stories that demonstrate the power of focusing on outcomes.
Westerlay Orchids grows and ships 4M+ potted orchids each year to clients across the Western United States – including big names like Albertsons and Trader Joe’s.
For years, the company relied on QuickBooks to manage its financial operations and old school spreadsheets for reporting. At one point, they had 20+ people using a single-user QB license at the same time – causing the system to either slow down or stall out altogether, so simple tasks took hours to complete.
Meanwhile, Westerlay kept amassing more data – creating a backlog of financial records that needed to be entered into QB manually – putting them in a seriously vulnerable position. As the company grew, it became increasingly clear their legacy tech was holding them back.
So, in 2020, Westerlay Orchids brought in controller Mike Hayes to audit their existing accounting system and find the right ERP to replace it.
According to Mike, an expert with 15+ years of experience in accounting and IT, Westerlay didn’t need anything more complex than the out-of-the-box capabilities of Dynamics 365 Business Central.
He then put the company in touch with Velosio, and we helped them replace Quickbooks with D365 BC.
While the platform was a “perfect fit” for Westerlay, we did have to redesign the company’s existing processes to work with the new system. We also helped them develop a plan to tackle the limitations of the old QB system and ensure the new ERP was configured in such a way that enabled them to achieve critical goals.
Moving to Business Central allowed Westerlay Orchids to gain control over assets, inventory, collections, and other accounting activities – resulting in streamlined processes and cost-savings.
The real lesson here is, it pays to partner with the right experts. Bringing in an expert like Mike who already had experience running audits, gathering requirements, and evaluating solutions was vital. His existing knowledge connected him to Velosio, because he recognized we were the right partner for this particular project.
Knox Financial is a startup that aims to make it easier for people to build wealth through investment properties. The company created the Knox Frictionless Ownership Platform to help homeowners about to move hang onto existing homes as investment properties, as well as to help landlords maximize profits while reducing their workloads and minimizing risk.
Due to the complex nature of its business model, Knox needed to launch with an ERP that could help them get ahead of back-end complexity by focusing on accounting right from the start.
Like Westerlay, much of Knox’s success can be attributed to internal accounting and ERP experience. According to Co-Founder & CEO David Friedman, businesses must have a deep understanding of their financial metrics and be able to report on them seamlessly to instill investor and client confidence.
In Knox’s case, the stakes are incredibly high – their business model literally depends on their ability to help people make the right investment decisions. Often, they’re working with “regular” people who can’t afford to gamble away retirement funds or critical income.
Friedman also told NetSuite that, in his years of experience starting and growing businesses, he’s watched many orgs launch with inexpensive, entry-level software. As those companies scale, their underpowered tech ends up holding them back.
Thanks to NetSuite’s SuiteSuccess Starter Edition, Knox Financial was up and running with its new ERP in less than 100 days. And, by using the NetSuite API, the company was able to design a data management system that matched perfectly with its unique requirements.
Post-launch, the Knox team (and their implementation partner) created a set of conditional rules that would allow them to make purchases on behalf of their clients as soon as they received payment.
They also created a custom workflow that would automatically analyze property data and calculate per-unit profitability and another designed to measure lead-generation efforts against revenue. Now, they’re working on building tools that can generate property valuations and customer ROI.
It’s worth noting that Knox could have gone with another ERP solution such as D365 Finance to get these same results. But – the company determined that NetSuite was the best fit – allowing them to launch on their own terms and chart a path toward growth.
Global Strategy Group (GSG) began in 1995 as a regional Democratic polling firm. Since then, GSG has expanded beyond the scope of the New York political scene. Now, GSG is a full-service communications, research, and public affairs agency that helps top Fortune 100s solve complex problems and challenges.
GSG reached out to Velosio after realizing they had outgrown their Salesforce solution. The firm had been relying on the same CRM platform for years, and eventually, reached the point where it was so bogged down with mods that it was essentially a bootleg project services automation (PSA) system.
For the record, Salesforce doesn’t include out-of-the box project management tools. The core audience for this product is companies with more traditional sales, marketing, customer service, and field service operations.
While the platform does boast one of the largest catalogs of integrations and add-ons around, it wasn’t built for project-based companies.
As GSG’s Senior Technology VP Andy Ho put it, “you’re not going to find a single person that refers to Salesforce as a timesheet system.”
The company looked at a number of potential replacements – NetSuite, Zoho, SugarCRM – before settling on Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Out-of-the-box, D365 BC covered almost all of GSG’s bases – at a much lower cost than the tricked-out Salesforce CRM they were already using. Velosio helped the company fill critical gaps. For example, we built custom Power BI reports that enabled them to track employee utilization against fixed-project quotes. We also integrated D365 CE with the core ERP to help close more deals, better support clients, and make smarter financial decisions.
Back in 2018, Hickory Farms, the company best known for its sausage-centric gift baskets, found itself in a tough position.
Over the years, the company had expanded its sales channels – moving beyond print catalogs (it was the 1950s) into mall kiosks, pop-ups, corporate gifts, and later, ecommerce and retail partnerships.
When new owners took over in 2015, they had big plans to reach a new generation of consumers – but soon discovered that the company’s patchwork of legacy business systems weren’t up to the task.
According to COO Matt James, HIckory Farms had separate systems for each channel – one for catalog sales, another for ecommerce, another just for kiosk sales, you get the idea.
Worse, none of these systems were capable of “talking” to one another on their own.
Each system had its own way of defining entities and organizing data. If you wanted to check inventory counts, IT had to sync data from all these disparate systems and cobble together a report so you could manually check stock levels.
The company chose Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations as the foundation for its new digital platform, mainly for its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and ability to scale up or down in response to wide swings in demand.
Now, warehouse and distribution staff can instantly pull up real-time inventory and order data on their smartphones and make quick decisions on the spot. The company also implemented Power BI dashboards that pull real-time data from D365 to help management anticipate demand, ID and fix problems as they emerge, and use real-time data to drive improvements.
Hickory Farms also added D365 for Commerce to its stack to get them closer to their original goal; modernizing retail operations.
The takeaway here is, consolidating multiple legacy systems into one cloud ERP is a massive undertaking. When the new owners took over Hickory Farms, they likely didn’t anticipate taking on an implementation of this magnitude.
But, because they built a strong foundation on D365 F&O, they were able to layer in additional capabilities. Eventually, the company reached the point where they could really transform retail operations – and reach a whole new generation of summer sausage fans.
Zircoa is a metal fabrication company that has served the specialty ceramics industry since the early 1950s.
Back in 2010, Zircoa decided it was time to invest in a “technology backbone” that could help them adapt to changing conditions, eventually settling on SYSPRO’s modular ERP solution.
At the time, the company invested in a full suite of modules to support each business unit – finance, sales, QC, inventory, procurement, asset management, and so on.
Compared to many in the manufacturing/distribution space, Zircoa’s initial ERP investment was ahead of its time. Zircoa Software Engineer Ravi Yenugu says SYSPRO is a very “clean” product in that modules and functionality are designed in a way that’s both integrated and “logically segregated.”
In 2021, Zircoa was again searching for a solution that would give them the flexibility to respond to change, improve process efficiency, and support increasingly complex international requirements.
Because the company was already using this modular ERP system, they were able to quickly modernize existing solutions by building new features and functionality and redesigning processes to better align with new priorities.
Zircoa has achieved real-time data visibility, which, in turn, has enabled them to tap new market opportunities and manage the financial complexities that come from doing business in multiple countries.
The company was able to start its “ERP transformation” journey without investing in a new platform. But, it’s important to note that these smaller changes are setting the company up for larger moves down the line.
For example, Zircoa is now working toward moving all operations to the SYSPRO cloud, and eventually, adopting more Industry 4.0 capabilities such as using the IoT for predictive maintenance.
Home Instead provides a range of care services designed to help seniors “age in place” with dignity – from meal prep and transportation to hospice support and specialized Alzheimer’s care.
Because demand for these services is so high, Home Instead embraced a franchise model to accelerate its expansion. And – today, it boasts a network of over 1,100 independently owned and operated franchises in the US and 11 other countries.
As we’ve seen with others on this list, Home Instead began the search for a new ERP after realizing its QuickBooks Enterprise system could no longer support basic requirements.
For example, QB was missing the in-depth reporting and multi-currency capabilities it needed to work with international franchisees.
They also needed a solution that allowed them to track performance both at the franchise level and as a whole – and was capable of handling complex customer service operations.
After weighing their options, the Home Instead team finally settled on NetSuite ERP and NetSuite Advanced Customer Support.
Finance Director Ann Monday says that NetSuite has dramatically improved the efficiency of the finance department. They now have access to real-time reports and have been able to automate billing, payments, and sales tax calculations. Plus, the new system leaves plenty of room for growth.
Arlon Graphics is a manufacturing company that makes cast vinyl for large-scale signage markets. Basically, they make those skins that turn skyscrapers and entire fleets into gigantic billboards.
The company operates two manufacturing facilities – one in the US and another in China – and operates out of a vast network of warehouses and offices that serve a network of 180+ global distribution partners.
Six years ago, Arlon began running into the limitations of its legacy solution. They replaced their legacy system with SAP, which allowed them to build a new enterprise platform that’s more adaptable to change.
Then, from there, began standardizing processes and best practices on the SAP platform. In the years since, the company has seen double digit growth and has been able to capitalize on opportunities to improve the customer experience and diversify its offerings.
The real lesson here is Arlon’s success isn’t a result of one big, expensive implementation. The company’s wins are the result of a dogged commitment to constant improvement. That said, investments from 6+ years ago set the stage for more “transformative” projects.
SAP ERP Central Component (similar to Microsoft’s Common Data Model) allowed the company to keep adapting its ERP as needs and conditions evolved.
Alex Mendes, Global IT & Security at Arlon, says SAP has allowed the company to make vast improvements. They now have insights that can tell them to run the business more effectively and surface opportunities to do things better moving forward.
Mendes adds that the ERP fosters a new way of thinking that actively drives organizational progress.
Despite staggering failure rates, ERP “wins” happen every day. There are literally hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of ERP success stories that we didn’t (and couldn’t) include on our list.
The point we’re trying to make is, ERP projects are incredibly diverse.
Solutions and strategies must always be driven by your org’s unique set of pain points and priorities. It wouldn’t make sense for, say, GSG and Hickory Farms to use the same ERP. GSG deals in knowledge and complex projects, whereas Hickory Farms makes and sells food items and gift baskets.
But — both of these companies were successful because they took the time to understand their limitations and requirements, and let those findings guide the decision-making process.
Velosio knows the ins and outs of the entire ERP lifecycle — from planning and implementation to long-term optimization and support.