Manufacturing firm achieves efficiency through Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

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The Client
Headquartered in Western Europe but with satellite offices in Southwestern Michigan, this client specializes in surface process machine manufacturing. This involves utilizing industrialized equipment to make alterations to the finishing of various surfaces in order to improve its aesthetic appearance or enhance its resistance to wear and tear.


The Challenge
After deciding to change its business structure to an independent limited liability corporation and confining its responsibilities to distribution to U.S. only, the client needed an effective accounting and resource management solution partner to develop and deploy software infrastructure that could handle various back office financial and accounting tasks. The firm was already using an ERP software system prior to becoming an LLC, but the "solution" wasn't much of one, as financial statements and invoices all had to be filled out and filed manually. Once this was completed, the paperwork then had to be sent off to corporate headquarters in Germany. Accounting staff there would then plug in the relevant information and data into Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which was out of date.


Understanding that the satellite office would have more work to do as a newly formed independent LLC, the client was of the opinion that this rather circuitous work model was unsustainable and inefficient, requiring way more time than was needed. We at TM Group wholeheartedly agreed.


The Solution
After assessing the company's goals, weak points and strengths, TM Group recommended developing a customized accounting infrastructure that was fully scalable and aligned with the corporate's administrative standards. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central just so happened to fit the bill. The successor to Microsoft NAV, Dynamics 365 Business Central is a software-as-a-service ERP that can be purchased as a complete bundle or on a la carte basis. Our initial consultation with the firm led us to recommend several modules. These included:


  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable
  • General ledger
  • Banking
  • Inventory Control
  • Purchasing
  • Sales Order Processing


Once our consultants gave a high level overview of each application, how they worked and how they would work once installed, the client gave The TM Group the green light to proceed with implementation.


Almost as soon as the work got underway, the project was beset by a variety of challenges. One of them involved breakdowns in communication with the parent company overseas in Germany. It came into the process with certain assumptions as to the nature of the ERP's technical capabilities and performance improvements. In order to get everyone on the same page, the project stakeholders had to provide better clarity on how the process would work and what the ERP would provide for the company in terms of efficiency and performance improvements. This led to delays in implementation.


Another unexpected predicament related to its business structure. There is a lot of red tape involved when changing to a different business entity - LLC or otherwise - so some of the steps that would normally be done fairly quickly had to be repeated.


An additional complication related to staffing: The point of contact in the Michigan-based satellite office didn't specialize in accounting, never mind accounting software, so some things that wouldn't require too much elaboration to someone already familiar with certain concepts and efficiencies had to be explained to provide better context.


Implementation rarely goes exactly as planned; such was the case with this client. Yet despite these obstacles and delays, the project came in well under budget.


The Outcome
Perhaps the biggest pay off from this project was the fact that the improvements in workflows, visibility and overall management were evidenced almost immediately. The newly independent LLC obtained greater control and accuracy in inventory management. Workflows that were once available exclusively to stakeholders at the corporate level in Germany were accessible to all field offices, in Michigan as well as other satellite locations. This not only provided for freedom of movement, but enabled decision makers to assess finances and other mission-critical processes across the organization - and in real time.


In short, all of the back office tasks and functionalities that were handled internally at the German office could be done across the company, from generating invoices to processing sales orders.


Whether your industry is manufacturing, healthcare, field services or virtually anything else, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can turn process problems into execution solutions. Contact The TM Group today to get greater efficiency underway.


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