Amax Incorporated Story-How a Multi-Million Dollar Distribution Company Implemented Hosted Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP System in Just 12 Weeks With Zero Interruption to Customers
Customer: Amax Incorporated
Customer Size: 310 global employees
Location: United States, Taiwan, China
Industry: Durable goods merchant wholesalers—Machinery, equipment, and supplies wholesalers
Formerly the office products division of Stanley Black & Decker, Amax is the exclusive developer and distributor of Stanley Bostitch staplers, hole punchers, and home and office hand tools in the United States.
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“Our customers were very impressed that we could implement a new ERP system in 12 weeks—and with zero interruption to our multimillion dollar business.”
Gary Blanchette, Executive Vice President
When Amax, the office products division of Stanley Black & Decker, decided to spin off as a separate company and announced that they would have a new ERP system implemented in 12 weeks, with no interruption to their multi-million dollar business, most people told them it could not be done. Their goal was to shut done the Stanley systems on Friday and start processing orders and shipping product from the new Amax systems on Monday. Any delay would have been catastrophic to their new business. At the same time, Amax had to keep operations running, find a new CFO, set up two new distribution centers and renegotiate a multiyear contract with one of its largest customers.
AMAX needed an out-of-the-box ERP solution that could be implemented quickly without a lot of customization but could still handle some of the complexities and volume of a distribution business of its size.
Amax chose Microsoft Dynamics GP as the core financial system with Vsync for EDI and SalesPad for the sales and customer service users and decided to host the entire system “in the cloud.” To meet their aggressive time schedule, Amax needed to rely on a strong partner to manage the ERP implementation project from start to finish. After a thorough evaluation they chose CAL Business Solutions, a Connecticut Microsoft Dynamics GP partner.
Three key executives from Amax talk about their experience:
- Gary Blanchette, Executive Vice President
- Joe DeRita, Director of Channel Management.
- Brian Leroux, Director of Finance and Accounting
Why Dynamics GP?
“We wanted an ERP system that would allow the business to operate more efficiently with a smaller team, so that we could maintain our laser focus on things that drive revenue such as new product development, sales and marketing. Because we lack significant resources for large IT projects, we needed a solution that we could implement quickly by using out of the box functionality. We also sought a solution that had a low learning curve and could handle volumes commensurate with our annual sales. We looked at SAP Business One, Netsuite, and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Based on advice we had from our former colleagues at Stanley Black and Decker who had experience with those systems, and what we saw from CAL Business Solutions, we decided that Microsoft Dynamics GP would fit our needs best.”
Why CAL Business Solutions?
“We looked at several Dynamics partners. Some had all the buzzwords and platitudes. But when speaking with CAL we thought, ‘these were really “nuts and bolts” guys’. They had a history of implementations, were very organized in their structure and had the resources to support the gaps in our team to make the project work and get it done on time. CAL Business Solutions was the right fit. Since we were a spinoff, the CFO position was open, so we needed more support from our partner than the traditional install. We needed guidance on setting up financial structure, operations, inventory and how that would flow into the third party logistics provider. CAL had certain individuals on their team with expertise in that area. We explained to CAL how we wanted it to work, and they made it happen very quickly. The competency of our Dynamics partner was key.”
Why “In The Cloud”?
“The hosted solution reduced our upfront costs and helped us to get up and running faster; and it offers tremendous flexibility. Working in the cloud means we can access it from anywhere in the world and work remotely much more efficiently. We flipped the switch 2 years ago and it has worked ever since with no downtime.”
The Solution– Microsoft Dynamics GP with VSync & SalesPad:
Using the right ISV add-on products to complement the core Dynamics GP financial functionality was crucial to the success of this project.
“Because of our deep distribution industry knowledge and experience with Dynamics GP we were able to help Amax evaluate different options and put together a system that fit their requirements but could also be done quickly and in a cost effective way. We feel our strength lies in looking at a unique situation and coming up with a solution that fits that client. ” George Mackiewicz, President, CAL Business Solutions.
Amax chose vSync as its EDI solution to integrate with third party logistic warehouses and to manage a high volume of daily orders from major customers such as Amazon.com, Office Depot, OfficeMax and Staples.
Each of these stores creates purchase orders on their own systems which are sent into the Vsync EDI solution. Then these are funneled directly into Dynamics GP purchase orders without any human intervention other than having the ability to run periodic transfers.
In addition, each big box store has specific reporting requirements. Amax is able to easily produce these customized reports using SalesPad and Dynamics GP SmartList Builder.
Amax uses SalesPad to access Dynamics GP data to give increased functionality to sales and customer service users – such as single screen visibility to orders, inventory and customer status.
The Amax team comments on the top benefits of using SalesPad with Dynamics GP:
Access Information: “With SalesPad the sheer amount of information you can show on one screen is so helpful. When you are on the phone with a customer you can answer questions quickly without switching screens or calling other departments. For customer service it is very easy to enter orders, move info around, and find customer info.”
Monitor Inventory: “It is very easy to search for items, see what we have on hand, what is coming in, what is on order and where inventory is allocated. Backorders and other issues are easy to solve. Everyone can see new purchase orders and when shipments are due in their warehouse.”
Analyze Realtime Data: “With very little customization we have detailed reports we never had before, and in realtime. We can quickly look up sales data, inventory and business metrics to see how new products are performing and follow trends to make better business decisions. We trust the system and the data that is in there.It’s a stark contrast to when we were a division of Stanley Black and Decker, where we commonly had to access four systems to get a complete picture of what was going on.”
Calculate True Costs: “Using GP and SalesPad we can control erosion of our margins because we know our true inventory cost. By making this visible to the whole organization we can make precise pricing decisions with a customer because we know we are working with accurate data. This is something other distribution companies struggle with.”
Process More Orders: “Sales Pad allows the order processors to process multiple orders quickly. Now they are able to monitor and process EDI orders while taking fax orders and phone orders all at the same time.”
Communicate Across Departments: “Information is no longer locked within separate departments. For example, our AR clerk using the collections module can write notes in the system and the sales team can see if the customer account is on hold, slow pay history, what the customer bought and when.”
Inspire Customers: “Our sales team can quickly prep for meetings without wasting time. They can show a customer, ‘this is where your business was an hour ago’. We have real-time analysis to support our sales propositions, whether it is a new promotion, product mix suggestions, or our position in pricing negotiations. Often we can get our customers better data about their business than they can. They have confidence that we are on top of what is happening in the marketplace and in their business and this makes us a better partner. That is pretty impressive and a lot of our competitors simply don’t have access to that type of data.”
With the help of CAL Business Solutions Amax achieved their goal. Amax implemented Microsoft Dynamics GP in 12 weeks flat and has been running smoothly in the cloud ever since.
The Amax team comments on the key benefits from their new Dynamics GP system:
Rapid Implementation: “Our customers were very impressed that we could implement a new ERP system in 12 weeks – and with zero interruption to our multimillion dollar business. This was largely due to CAL. They had a great project plan and structured approach and worked well with us as a team during a stressful time period for our company. The straightforward design and structure of Microsoft Dynamics GP also played an important role.
It truly went off without a glitch.”
“AMAX had a drop dead go live date. We understood that and we went the extra mile for them.” John Dileo, Project Manager, CAL Business Solutions
Real-Time Data: “Access to accurate real-time data is probably the best thing about the Dynamics GP system. We can feed information into dashboards and quickly get a pulse of what is happening in the market. This helps us evolve our strategic and tactical plans. It has made us far more proactive to our customer needs and is a real competitive advantage.”
Improved Cash Flow: “The collections management functionality helped Amax reduce days of sales outstanding by more than 30 days to a new record low, which translates to significantly improved cash flow.”
99% Service Levels: “Our goal was to deliver a high fill rate with minimal inventory and Dynamics GP allows us to do that. We now maintain 99% service levels with all our customers while driving a very high working capital turnover.”
Increased Profitability: “Dynamics GP helps us from an overall business decision making standpoint. We run lean. We know our true cost of inventory. We can make business decisions quickly and this affects our margins, cash flow and overall profitability of the business.”
Zero Downtime: “Using a cloud based system means we can access data from anywhere in the world. It is critical that we can rely on the system. It has been two years since we flipped the switch and we have had no downtime. We trust the system to give us accurate reliable information every day.”
Unprecedented Efficiency: “Because of Dynamics GP we function more efficiently than we ever have across all departments. This efficiency equates to getting more done with less people so we can move them to areas that drive revenue growth like new product development. We are performing better than ever before and you can see that in our sales results.”
CAL Business Solutions works with more than 75 distribution and light manufacturing companies in New England across the USA. Our clients use Microsoft Dynamics GP + SalesPad as a full featured yet affordable supply chain management system that connects sales, warehousing, purchasing, and finance. If you are a distribution company that is looking for a new ERP system, contact CAL Business Solutions.
Blog Post: 7 Real Benefits a Distribution Company Achieved Using SalesPad with Microsoft Dynamics GP
Video: Amax Incorporated featured in Microsoft Convergence 2011 Keynote Address