When your business is manufacturing and distributing cement products and bricks, the complexities of inventory management are multiplied. With pallets weighing hundreds or even thousands of kilograms, moving inventory is no small task. And with most orders requiring a large quantity of materials, it is critical those items are in stock. One missing item can make all the difference when it comes to completing a project.
These are the very challenges construction product manufacturers and distributors like SVK face. Headquartered in Belgium, SVK has over 100 years of manufacturing, supply and technical expertise. As one of the largest manufacturers of building materials in Belgium, SVK offers a comprehensive portfolio of fiber cement products and bricks. The company also manages a bookbinding operation. As is the case with many organizations, over the years SVK acquired a number of different applications to manage its business operations, from administration and finance to inventory and warehouse management. While some of the applications were modern, others, dating back 10-15 years were sorely outdated with character-based user interfaces. In most of those cases, SVK did not have the option to migrate to a more modern application based on new technologies such as a graphical user interface, electronic archiving, customer relationship management (CRM) or business intelligence (BI) tools that could provide deeper insight into operational and financial data.
“Our IT infrastructure could not scale with our growing business,” explains Walter Verhaert, Director for SVK. “While we could keep up with customer demand and manage our business operations effectively, it took a toll from both a resource and cost perspective. There were numerous operations that we knew could be easily managed through automation with an updated system that we were tackling by hand.”
For example, SVK’s process for inventory management required a significant amount of physical counting and controls. That process made audits painful and failed to give sales the up-to-date information they needed to accurately fill customer orders. “It took far more people than it should have to manage that process. And in the end, we still only had a ‘theoretical,’ idea of what our inventory was. Because after just one order, those numbers changed.”
Verhaert says SVK wanted to streamline its operations by giving all employees access to the same system with the same information. With a fully automated system and access to up-to-date reliable information sales could better serve the customer; employees could be more productive; the company could reduce its costs; and management could make more informed business decisions with real-time visibility across business operations.
Organi Offers a Local Partnership and State of-the-Art Technology
When it came to choosing a new software vendor, SVK didn’t have to look far. Based on a reference from another local organization within the same industry, SVK contacted Organi, a Progress Software application provider also based in Belgium.
“After a demonstration of their solution we were extremely impressed with Organi’s expertise and technology,” says Verhaert. “We saw tremendous potential in partnering with Organi. Not only did they offer impressive solutions, a long list of customers, and proven industry success, but they were located in Belgium. Having a close relationship with a vendor was important to us. With a larger, multi-national company employees are constantly coming and going. With Organi, we were confident that we would be working closely with the same people from the beginning of the implementation to the very end. They were truly committed to our success.” SVK had an immediate need for a bookkeeping application, so that was the first solution they implemented. “It was critical that from the very start we have access to analytical overviews and financial information at our fingertips,” explains Verhaert. The second phase of the project involved replacing all of SVK’s existing applications with a single integrated ERP system for managing every aspect of the business, including sales orders, purchase orders, inventory management, warehouse management, compliance management, electronic archiving (EDM), CRM and BI. Built on the Progress® OpenEdge® platform, SVK’s system is fault-tolerant with built-in failover capabilities in the event of technical interruption or a disaster.
Verhaert says the implementation was extremely smooth. SVK was able to recover all of its historical data from the previous systems—data on more than 5,000 products. And the cutover from the old systems to the new integrated system was seamless, causing no interruption to its business.
Automation and Access to Real-Time Data Improves Control across the Enterprise
SVK’s new system from Organi has been in place for approximately one year. And while the company is still learning about the system and how it can improve the business, SVK has already realized numerous advantages, and it anticipates the system will deliver tremendous benefits to the business moving forward.