Businesses typically think about technology benefits when moving to the cloud. These include reducing IT costs, increasing capacity to scale services, and making IT easier to manage. But the cloud also delivers business benefits, such as streamlining internal workflows and improving services provided to customers.
A classic example is Investments Hardware Limited (IHL), a distributor of construction and industrial supplies. The company planned to migrate its ERP platform to the cloud as rapid growth stretched the bandwidth of internal resources.
IHL previously relied on an on-premises version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and the ERP system had served the company well for many years. But as e-commerce, call center, and retail store activity increased, IHL wanted to streamline customer purchases as well as the order fulfillment processes in its 120,000 square foot warehouse.
Cloud Reduces Need for Customization
One of the challenges IHL faced was that NAV had been customized to a great extent. Adding functionality to accommodate e-commerce, the point-of-sale system, the call center, and warehouse processes was cumbersome. Company leaders felt the best choice was to turn to a cloud solution that did not require as much customization when adding new functions.
To solve the challenge, IHL turned to Western Computer. IHL considers our team to be a trusted partner, and we had assisted with implementing and maintaining the NAV ERP platform for several years. For the cloud migration, we recommended Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management).
Because Finance & Operations runs in the cloud, IHL receives system updates and new functions every month—there’s less need to customize. IHL also doesn’t have to allocate internal resources to maintain the software—Microsoft takes care of that, which lowers the total cost of ownership.
New Capabilities Help Deliver Products Sooner
The ability of IHL and Western Computer to collaborate closely on this cloud migration accomplished several primary objectives:
Expand the capabilities of the e-commerce platform.
Enable the warehouse to run more efficiently.
Improve e-commerce experiences by allowing customers to track orders.
Streamline back-office processes for data exchanges between the e-commerce and ERP platforms.
Connect scanners to the ERP platform to enable warehouse resources to verify product shipments.
Reduce errors when checking inventory coming in and going out of the warehouse.
With these capabilities, IHL reduced the average fulfillment time so customers receive orders sooner, and the company ships more orders per day. IHL also decreased the amount of paper printed in the warehouse by 80%.
Management Appreciates Performance Reporting
Another key benefit comes from the performance metrics delivered to the IHL management team. Western Computer integrated Dynamics 365 with Microsoft Power BI to automate reports that previously required manipulating spreadsheets or programming database reports.
With the ERP platform running in the cloud, the management team now has data at their fingertips to look at historical performance and to accurately forecast what will happen in the next quarter. This is particularly helpful to check if inventory matches the sales demand. Management can also check margins to evaluate the profitability of each product.
The Importance of a Partnership That Goes Beyond Technical Capabilities
One of the key lessons learned during this project is that when choosing an IT partner to deploy enterprise software, the success of the relationship depends on so much more than technical capabilities. The partner must also understand how the business operates and the challenges faced when trying to run efficient workflows. Only then can they leverage their expertise to adapt technologies so they sync with the way the business operates.
To learn more about this approach to IT projects that Western Computer applies, and how IHL successfully migrated its ERP system to the cloud, check out the complete case study. And to find out how we can deliver the same benefits to your company, contact us today.
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