2005 Supply & Demand Chain 100 Case Study  Chocolate Potpourri / SYSPRO

Profiles in Supply Chain Enablement: Chicago-area truffle maker likes the taste of new efficiencies gained from implementing ERP system

Profiles in Supply Chain Enablement: Chicago-area truffle maker likes the taste of new efficiencies gained from implementing ERP system

Company: Chocolate Potpourri (Glenview, IL)
Company Size: Small
Company Sector: CPG (Food)
Area(s) of Enablement: Order/Demand Capture, Supply Chain Integration & Infrastructure, Decision Support
Enabler: SYSPRO (Costa Mesa, CA)

SDCE 100 2005Case Study: The Challenge

Chocolate Potpourri is a Chicago-area producer of truffles that combine Old World candy making traditions with top quality chocolate, various liquors and other fresh ingredients. The company had been using a rudimentary distribution software package that provided absolutely no data relating to the manufacturing side of the business, and it faced several challenges as a result of its manual processes for handling product and order data.

For instance, the company used a standalone database to log and maintain recipes, and it maintained its ingredient inventory levels on a "hit and miss" basis, with inventory levels calculated visually, a procedure very prone to error. And with a number of disparate databases, management had no convenient access to current data for decision-making purposes or to gain an overview of the health of the company.

On the sales side of the business, Chocolate Potpourri had relied heavily on orders placed on the company's Web site by individuals as well as other companies. The procedure to enter and fill the orders was cumbersome, and orders were placed via e-mail, necessitating their manual re-entry, a time-consuming procedure that also was prone to error.

These inefficiencies prompted the company to seek an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution with a single, integrated database that could provide up-to-date, real-time data for utilization by accounting, manufacturing and distribution and for the purposes of efficient management decision-making. Another goal was to replace paper with electronic documents and eliminate manual data entry.

The Solution

The company selected an ERP system from SYSPRO, purchasing the solution from reseller Business Technology Partners of Northbrook, IL. The implementation took about three months, and today Chocolate Potpourri has eliminated data duplication, automated many procedures and achieved numerous efficiencies. SYSPRO said that the results exemplify how a relatively small company can utilize big-time technology to enable it to compete on an equal footing with larger competitors and, at the same time, enhance customer service.

For example, with Chocolate Potpourri gaining the efficiencies of an integrated, real-time database, data need only be entered once to be immediately available to all departments. What's more, these same data are available to the company's Worldship shipping system because, using SYSPRO drivers, Worldship gains a pipeline to the SYSPRO database. The drivers tell Worldship where to find the required data, and the result is that shipment information is automatically entered and therefore more reliable. The result has also been a substantial improvement in customer service thanks to a reduced order-to-delivery cycle.

Currently all Chocolate Potpourri recipes are entered into bills of material. When the company issues a work order, the necessary ingredients are automatically entered from the appropriate bill of materials and sent on to the factory. Because inventory levels are also automatically adjusted, management has more precise knowledge of current inventory status. Because the SYSPRO software automatically triggers alarms when ingredient safety levels are reached, ingredient levels can be maintained so production lines need never be halted due to the lack of a key ingredient.

Automating Orders

The company also has reported significant time-savings through the implementation of SYSPRO e.net solutions, one of the first component-based architectures to leverage the Microsoft .NET Framework. Chocolate Potpourri uses the e.net solutions to automate the execution of orders placed over the company's Web site. This is enabling the company to reduce labor costs and also improve order accuracy by eliminating human error. Through the use of component object model (COM) objects, orders placed over the Web are automatically sent directly into the SYSPRO database. The Web application passes information relating to the order to the SYSPRO COM object using the XML standard. The SYSPRO COM object, in turn, processes the transaction in real time. Orders are automatically printed out and a job ticket is produced, with the recipe pulled from the bill of materials. The job ticket is automatically transmitted to the production department.

This solution replaces the old, time-consuming and error-prone e-mail order-entry process, speeding order turnaround, particularly during the company's busiest seasons. Also, when orders are placed over the Web outside of the company's normal business hours, they are immediately and automatically processed without order-entry personnel. The result is that orders now arrive in production the same day they are received, correctly documented with customer specific information from the SYSPRO customer master file. The solution also provides 24/7 reporting for customers wanting to know the status of orders, again saving customer service time and expense in generating and sending reports.

Chocolate Potpourri also attributes numerous efficiencies to the ability of SYSPRO software to accommodate customized forms. "A good form is a piece of art," said Chocolate Potpourri President Richard Gordon. In this manner, the company can highlight the information required or limit the forms solely to the information needed.

For more stories of successful supply chain implementations, read the "2005 Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100" article in the June/July 2005 issue of the magazine. Also watch the Today's Headlines section of SDCExec.com every Tuesday and Thursday for more in depth best practices drawn from this year's Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100.