Agassiz Seed & Supply Eliminates Manual Processes, Gains Insight to Inventory and Sales Orders
As a company expands and grows, manual processes that once seemed commonplace are no longer passing muster. Decision-makers soon realize that efficiencies gained through the right technology can save time, labor and contribute to better visibility to the bottom line. Agassiz Seed & Supply, a distributor of agriculture products, had reached this tipping point and were optimistic about the difference technology could make in their operations.
For more than 10 years Agassiz Seed’s accounting and inventory needs had been adequately supported by Microsoft Dynamics GP. But, for the seed side of the business, they desired a solution that could track the custom blending of seed varieties and integrate the information from those orders directly into their ERP solution.
Prior to embarking on the project, Agassiz Seed was managing inventory with spreadsheets and manually updating Dynamics GP a few times per week. They didn’t have good insight into their inventory, and tracked numerous seed-specific attributes in additional spreadsheets, with handwritten blend sheets. The sales team would give blend sheets in stacks to product managers who would then review the blend, assign lots, and provide this to the warehouse team to blend. During the busy season they would move stacks of paper through each and every area of their business, only updating the system at the end of “batches.”
After three prior unsuccessful attempts by other software companies to configure technology for the seed blending initiative, Agassiz was introduced to Stoneridge Software. Because of the level of experience and Stoneridge Software’s transparent approach, Agassiz Seed became confident they could finally realize a custom blending program that would be tied in seamlessly to an accounting and inventory solution.
Up until this point, Agassiz Seed was still operating with handwritten sales orders, but they had grown to a size and volume of business that it was becoming cumbersome and inefficient to handle that much paper. While it was not the driving factor behind the ERP project, Agassiz Seed saw the value in eliminating the maintenance of hard copy documents to free up staff time for other value-added tasks. In addition to the goal of becoming paperless, going through the process of adopting the cloud-based Dynamics 365 Business Central solution allowed them to review processes and look for other ways to increase productivity.
Sticking with Microsoft
Already a Microsoft customer, Agassiz Seed was comfortable remaining within the same Dynamics product family backed up by an organization they could trust and a network and community of users they would continually have access to. “Given our history, it just kind of seemed natural to stay with Microsoft,” said Chris Alberty President of Agassiz Seed and Supply. “A couple of our suppliers in the industry were also using Dynamics Business Central, so that also put our mind at ease that we’re moving the right direction.”
Enterprise Process Review provides insight
Before embarking on the implementation of a new business solution, Stoneridge Software recommends an Enterprise Process Review (EP Review). This is an exercise involving key personnel from both companies and and includes the review of current-state business processes and mapping desired future-state processes and what level of effort is required in order for that to happen. Agassiz Seed found it quite helpful in narrowing in on exactly what they wanted to do, and visualizing what a new system would and could look like.
“The EP Review had benefits beyond even just the system. It made us take a real hard look with an outsider’s perspective at just our general business processes,” said Alberty. “It also quickly endeared us to the Stoneridge team because they were very knowledgeable when it comes to business processes. Going through the review, was another way to help solidify that we’d made the right decision and helped put our mind at ease. Because of the EP Review, we already had trust already going into the project.”
Realizing the benefits of an integrated solution
Though still slightly gun shy after the previous attempts at implementing a new solution, Agassiz was cautiously optimistic about the project. With hands-on project management from Stoneridge, they felt informed throughout and saw the steady progress of the project. “The Stoneridge team really helped manage the process and made it seem not as daunting as it looks,” said Chris. “Between the project planner and the weekly phone calls, they really helped it become more manageable.”
In true partnership and focused effort by the team at Agassiz Seed and the expert implementation consultants the customized seed blending solution was brought to life. The Agassiz team had successfully survived the fourth and final attempt to achieve their long-awaited goal. Having the seed blending customization integrated within the core business operating system and everything talking to each other has greatly cut down if not eliminated much of the manual processes and paperwork that was previously happening. For the Agassiz team involved in setting up and completing the seed mixes, the entire process is completely streamlined. And, the role-based viewable data within the solution has opened up a whole new world of knowledge for the Agassiz employees.
“A lot of people like that visibility and all the information it’s tracking,” says Alberty. “The sales month-to-date, the visibility into how many active quotes we have in the system, the active sales orders, there’s really a whole lot of information that we have instant access to that we didn’t have before.”
Prior to the implementation of Dynamics 365 Business Central, Agassiz Seed had experienced a certain amount of lag in actual inventory due to the manual handwritten orders. They knew what was in the warehouse, but couldn’t easily see what orders were already sold against it, or what had already been shipped and wasn’t invoiced yet.
“Going to electronic sales orders and quotes and purchase orders and everything all being tracked in the system with everybody having access to it, you know basically right down to the minute exactly what you have available for sale. This is key in the distribution business, especially ours, where we’ve built our reputation on service,” says Alberty. “This real-time information ensures that we keep product in stock and aren’t promising something that isn’t available.”
Agassiz Seed identifies the three biggest benefits of using Business Central with their customized blending solution as:
- Time-saving reporting
- Increased efficiency
- Inventory accuracy
Instead of just a handful of users that previously had access to the system, a web portal provides personnel a role-based view of what they need to know to do their jobs. “Everyone can see what’s going on. Our entire team feels like they really have a true picture of what’s happening,” says Alberty.
Pre-work the key to implementation success
Agassiz Seed observed that the previous companies who had attempted the blending solution in the past might have oversimplified what was needed. Alberty points to the level of research and pre-work by the Stoneridge team before even going into the project. “The success of the project was really due to the amount of time and energy that Stoneridge put into gathering information and truly understanding our industry. All of this was done to ensure that the ideal custom blending program could actually be written and integrated.” says Alberty. “Prior to this we hadn’t had anybody do that much work beforehand. By gathering this knowledge ahead of time, Stoneridge knew they were dealing with the right facts in order to put this together.”
The final Dynamics 365 Business Central solution included:
- Live inventory with lot attributes stored in the same system, also used for sales & receivables processes, purchasing & inventory, and production orders for blending
- Lot tracking extension
- Seed blending extension
- Split revenue extension that allows visibility into revenue by each seed product group at the G/L level
Have Any Questions?