Hi-Vis Signs and Safety are a "fair dinkum" Australian business success story.
What started out in the early 1960s as a small family owned and operated business has now grown to be one of Australia's largest manufacturer of road, specialty signage and safety products.
The company's winning "can do" attitude, quality products and focus on delivering exceptional customer service has seen the business grow to now support over 600 businesses across Australia.
As we all know with growth, comes complexities. With over 50 staff operating in Sydney, Queensland and Newcastle, combined with a rapidly growing business, it was time for the business to address inefficiencies — hence their decision to implement Epicor ERP.
The signage industry is very competitive and subject to economic fluctuations because many of the primary raw materials are imported. Managing suppliers and stock are crucial elements of Hi-Vis' business and were primary drivers that led them to look for an ERP system.
"One of the reasons we started to look for an ERP system was to be able to have integrated data. We felt confident that with Epicor ERP's embedded functionality, we could keep expanding whilst increasing visibility and efficiencies," Graeme Bashford, Hi-Vis marketing and sales manager, said.
Early in the implementation project, Epicor emphasised for the project to be successful, Hi-Vis must take ownership and responsibility for the system. Hi-Vis committed the internal resource and management time required to ensure the project team was doing its job internally.
"Reaching a satisfactory ROI depends on the effort and the time we put in. We are going in the right direction and should expect to reach a good ROI by the end of the financial year."
Dream it and see it
"With Epicor ERP, it is now possible for us to run reports very quickly," Bashford said.
Accessing data and having one version of the truth was another reason Hi-Vis chose Epicor ERP.
"All I have to do now is ask a question and I get a report within a couple of minutes. I can get everything I dream off," Simon Watson, Operations Manager, said.
"We were quite surprised when we realised how easy it is to access the data. Whilst it takes a bit longer to get the data into the system, we can get much more information about the business quickly and easily from the system. We are currently running a lot of purpose built Business Activity Queries and Dashboards, says Simon.
As long as you know how to build the reports and where the tables are, it is not a complicated process. COGITA helped at the start with creating reports for us but we are now self sufficient and Peter can run any type of reports," says Simon.
When Hi-Vis implemented Epicor ERP, one of the expected benefits was to be able to measure Key Performance Indicators.
Prior to Epicor ERP, everything was managed in Excel — a tedious endeavour but quite transparent.
"Whilst we have been using the reporting tools a lot, we haven't yet utilised it for KPI performance.
"This can be done in Epicor ERP and it is something we will be looking at in the weeks to come. In particular, measuring labour productivity, understanding the variances in labour and getting an overview of job costings and productivity," Watson said.
"Another key benefit is the e-commerce module, a fully integrated online shop for stock items, with the whole process from order booking to despatch and invoice now happening automatically with little or no need for involvement of our sales team," Bashford said.
Inventory management gets a big tick
"Business has changed a lot in the past 18 months and we need to purchase a lot more from overseas and sometimes need to forecast a couple of months in advance.
Having an inventory management system that would allow keeping track of stock was a key requirement. Hi-Vis's previous system was very manual; one person had to go and check the status of each part and then place an order. The system was 100 per cent relying on people — now the "surprise factor" has gone.
"The Time Phase report automatically tells us to reorder as soon as we are below the safety net and factors in the delivery time to have it delivered on time for production," Watson said.
Better Inventory management meant saving money to the business and increasing customer satisfaction by having on time deliveries.
"I am now hoping to step back from the day to day processing activities. The automation the system is giving us should free up resources and allow management to focus on keeping the business growing," Watson concluded.