FORCE America® Simplifies Complex Processes, Scales Solution for Business Expansion
Sophisticated, complex businesses tend to require sophisticated levels of financial and inventory tools. Since FORCE America’s last ERP implementation the company had increased in size to 19 locations including 15 distribution centers, four manufacturing sites, and one engineering, sales and support location. Their existing ERP system was nearing the end of life for support and company leadership recognized that it would not scale for growth.
The outdated ERP solution was an antiquated, green screen technology and the company was suffering from a limited line of sight into inventory and distribution centers. This was causing issues not only internally but with their distributor/vendor network. The existing ERP system was focused solely on distribution needs and did not address the needs of the manufacturing line of business, which had been added in recent years. “We needed a system that would scale and help us make better decisions for our business,” said Jeff Warner, President at FORCE America.
Choosing Microsoft Dynamics
When considering which ERP system to implement, FORCE America included several factors in their decision-making process. Narrowing the choices down to three finalists, FORCE America considered the usability of the product, financial stability of the product company and the level of support provided. When looking at longevity, financial viability, and a focus on evolving and consistently backing business technology, Microsoft Dynamics AX was a clear winner. Other systems in consideration felt too complex, inflexible or hard to use.
In addition, FORCE America was largely using Microsoft technology already, running Office, Exchange and SharePoint. “There was a comfort level in staying with Microsoft as an ERP platform. Usability was important to us and there was a familiarity with Microsoft products,” says Warner.
With an eye for simplifying incredibly complex processes, and updating antiquated and disparate systems, the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX would allow the company to focus on the business — and not the operations. Stoneridge Software designed and configured a solution that managed inventory and customized bills of materials (BOMs) and increased line of sight across distribution centers.
The final solution is a multi-site, sophisticated distribution network that accommodates advanced commissions, rebates based on volume, and complex BOMs that can be configured at the point of order. This uniquely configured solution provides required customization for distribution orders, positioning the company as a technology-driven leader in their field.
Major initiatives for the Dynamics AX implementation included:
- Replacing old technology
- Increasing visibility across distribution centers
- Master Resource Planning (MRP)
- Vendor management and advanced commissions
- Business Intelligence
Realizing the benefits
With all sites live and team members comfortable in using the system, FORCE America is pleased to be reaping the benefits. A high priority in implementing a new ERP system was to make better decisions. With specific efforts centered on Business Intelligence and how it’s integrated into the Dynamics AX system, FORCE America has vital information at their disposal that’s easy to access.
In appreciation of the ability to be nimble in day-to-day operations, team members at FORCE America point to the example of a customer making a visit to the company. In a scenario like this in the previous system FORCE America staff would have been exporting data and creating pivot tables and pulling sales metrics to gain a picture of the customer’s current status compared to previous years. Such as, how are margins this time over last year, is volume growing or shrinking, are there any quality issues, etc.?
“Everything we would want to do in order to prepare to meet with a customer would have been a senior research project. Now, 30 minutes before the meeting with just a few clicks in our Business Intelligence system you can pull a lot of that data on the fly, and not only pull it – but believe it,” says Warner.
The value of partnership
The combination of Stoneridge Software and FORCE America has brought to light the value of true partnership, especially when working with such a multi-faceted project requiring deep expertise.
“One of the key things about a partner is that they’re there with you. Stoneridge Software understood our deadlines and they were scrapping just as hard as we were to make sure we hit them. After a while, we didn’t really make the distinction between our own people and members of Stoneridge. They may not be on the same payroll, but they’re on the same team,” said Warner.
As FORCE America continues to realize the benefits of their Dynamics AX implementation, the team likens a successful project to be measured as a journey and not a destination.
“That applies to FORCE America with respect to our deployment,” says Bill Guggemos, Vice President of Technology and Capital at FORCE America. “We are gaining more competencies and efficiencies each day. We are confident that we picked the proper software in Microsoft Dynamics AX and our partner in Stoneridge Software to not only allow us to grow but to facilitate that growth for many years to come.”
“Stoneridge delivered on their goals to ‘teach us to fish’ and we now manage most AX Support and Development needs internally,” says Chris Erickson, Director of Information Technology at FORCE America. “Stoneridge remains a valued partner and the level of expertise and responsiveness from their staff has never wavered when called upon.”