The specialty manufacturing company needed to implement formal, structured workflows, especially in its manufacturing facilities, and streamline intercompany transactions among its five business units and outside trading partners.
“Over the last five years, our revenues have tripled,” says Fred Daniell, President of Kureha America LLC. “We brought a new plant online, and the number of transactions we’re managing has grown at least five-fold. We couldn't do this on Peachtree anymore; we simply outgrew it. We needed a proper platform and infrastructure to run the business.”
Cloud solution minimizes infrastructure costs
Company leaders recognized the need for an enterprise-class ERP system—but were unwilling to assume the overhead and infrastructure that often accompany major software deployments. So, when the company began evaluating ERP solutions, one of its chief criteria was that the system be hosted and managed entirely ‘in the cloud.’
“We're a specialty chemical and plastics company,” explains Daniell. “Computer hardware and software is not our expertise. It's not a part of our business strategy to invest in the hardware or people necessary to maintain that kind of system onsite; it doesn't make sense, especially at the rate the technology is moving. To us, it’s not a good investment.”
Working with technology consultants Bestborn Business Solutions, Kureha evaluated several options, including Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Epicor, Oracle, and SAP, which was already in place at the company’s Japanese parent company. “We quickly determined that SAP would be vast overkill given the size of our operation here in America,” says Daniell. “And cost was certainly an issue with Oracle. But the biggest driver was the maturity of the cloud offering. While the other solutions were just beginning to offer cloud options, Microsoft Dynamics NAV had the demonstrated track record on the cloud platform.”
Kureha America implemented Microsoft Dynamics NAV in its four business units, including two manufacturing facilities in Pittsburgh and West Virginia and its holding company in New York. The solution was implemented at all three sites by Bestborn and is hosted in the cloud by Microsoft Certified Partner, SaaSplaza.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV has dramatically streamlined internal order processing, enabling Kureha to centralize accounting among its four US subsidiaries. Previously, each operating unit had maintained its own accounting system, and purchase orders were re-entered up to six times as intercompany transactions flowed among the subsidiaries. With Microsoft Dynamics NAV, orders are entered once, reducing redundant work and opportunity for error. The ability to accept EDI transactions from retail trading partners has also reduced sales order processing time by 75%, allowing customer service people to reclaim up to 12 hours per week.
“Everything was done by hand,” recalls Daniell. “When we received an order from a customer, we had to manually enter it into the accounting system, check a spreadsheet for inventory status, put together shipping instructions to the warehouse, wait for confirmation, generate an invoice, and then manually update the accounting systems. Today, all these things are tied together. Orders just flow through the ERP system, and all those touches go away.”
Restoring work-life balance
While the productivity gains resulting from the Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution are measurable, Daniell emphasizes the significance of the more intangible benefits. Before Kureha implemented the solution, he recounts that Kureha’s dedicated customer service staff routinely worked 12-hour days. “They basically had no lives,” he says. “As the guy who’s running the business, that's my responsibility. Today, I have much happier employees. Folks can leave when they’re supposed to leave—and they’re much more productive when they're here.”
Connecting sales to ERP
Centralizing inventory and order information also makes life easier for Kureha’s sales staff, who now have visibility into product and account information through Microsoft Dynamics NAV. In the past, the sales team relied on phone calls to Kureha’s customer service representatives for updates on inventory and order status. If a service rep was out sick or on vacation, customer inquiries could go unanswered for days. Today, direct access to this information enables them to sell more efficiently, and to interact more effectively, with their customers and accounts.
Achieving visibility into performance
Kureha executives also enjoy increased visibility into operations as a result of consolidating data in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. One-click reporting has replaced days of manual data entry and local spreadsheets, including custom reports for sales performance and forecasting. Financial reporting is similarly automated, facilitating reporting between Kureha America and its Japanese parent corporation.