Canadian mannequin, metal store fixtures manufacturer replaces big ERP system with licensed suite to save money
Hampton, N.H. September 17, 2003 Like many manufacturers these days, Ontario Store Fixtures, headquartered in Weston, Ontario, Canada, is going through a downsizing and restructuring. "We used to be a much larger company than we are today," commented Shabbir Kapasi, an IT project manager at the company.
"We had a top-five [enterprise resource planning] system in place," he added, "but it was just too expensive and too complex for our new slimmed-down organization."
That's when Ontario Store Fixtures decided to move to VISUAL Enterprise from Lilly Software Associates. But it wasn't going to be easy. "Corporate management gave us six weeks to make the transition," Kapasi said. "The consultant that helped us recommended a 20-week implementation plan. We said, 'Sorry, but we have to do it in six weeks."
The move to VISUAL was a financial decision, according to Kapasi. The cost to license the software suite and implement it came to about what it cost for annual maintenance on the larger ERP system. "We selected VISUAL Enterprise because it has essentially the same ERP capabilities of the bigger package, but it costs a fraction of the price," Kapasi said.
Ontario Store Fixtures started the implementation project on March 1, 2003 and had the first plant running on VISUAL April 1. The plant makes mannequins for retail clothing display. A second plant that makes metal store fixtures went live on May 1.
"We had a fantastic team in place," Kapasi explained. "Users were involved from all departments, and they were totally committed to the project. It is their hard work and dedication that were the keys to our success. And they accomplished this while still keeping up with their regular duties. It was a lot of hard work and long hours, but they were completely focused on the task."
The project team adhered strictly to the schedule they set for themselves, Kapasi said. In daily implementation team meetings, they looked at each task that was due or ongoing and made sure everything was proceeding according to plan. When there was a delay, it was not allowed to go more than 48 hours behind schedule. "We micromanaged every single step of the project," Kapasi added.
The company is pleased with the result. "We have been using the system for several months now and have not had any problems beyond a bit of tweaking here and there that you would expect with a new system," Kapasi reported. "VISUAL is able to do everything we need it to do and there are more functions in there that we can grow into as we start to use the system more."
Kapasi said the future of the system and the company is a major focus for the implementation team. "Implementation never stops," Kapasi stated. "The challenge for the ERP team now is to keep finding new opportunities to gain efficiency. We must continually review our processes and find ways to use the VISUAL Enterprise system better."