"I have been involved with five ERP implementations in my career...and the implementation of Epicor ERP was by far the best," says ETEL Limited finance manager, Kent Sheldon.
ETEL Limited is a long established pioneering New Zealand business specialising in the design and manufacture of distribution transformers. The company's customer base is spread evenly across New Zealand and Australia.
Founded in 1956, ETEL has achieved unprecedented growth and success resulting in the expansion of its premises to now occupy a significant industrial complex in Avondale, Auckland. The company successfully perfected these products within the New Zealand market before launching them internationally in Australia and the Pacific Islands, with exports now exceeding 50 per cent of total output.
Introducing an embedded ERP system to support growth: "One source for the truth"
Prior to implementing Epicor, ETEL used a system that supported their manufacturing processes and billing material requirements but as finance manager Kent Sheldon explains, "It wasn't anywhere near as advanced as what we have now".
"We had a lot of Excel databases, Excel spreadsheets, you name it we had it and everybody had their own systems and sub-systems and we wanted one source for the truth."
Following decades of strong growth the management team at ETEL were ready to implement an advanced ERP system that would support the company's growth and enable data to be updated in one system, accessible to the entire organisation.
"We experience year on year growth, on average about 14 per cent a year. We have over 180 staff now and we were well overdue to introduce an advanced system like Epicor.
"It's quite a sophisticated operation here and we needed a more sophisticated system. Our systems prior to Epicor ERP were more of an impediment to growth where as now we have a system that supports our growth," explained Sheldon.
ETEL went live with Epicor next-generation ERP with a mixture of core manufacturing and financial management modules.
"For engineering we are using job management, job scheduling, MRP (materials requirement planning), materials purchasing and shipping, everything on both the material management and production management side," Sheldon says.
"For financial management we are using Epicor for our general ledger, fixed assets, cash management, and currency management – we have a lot of currency transactions, roughly 50 per cent of our sales are to New Zealand customers and 50 per cent to Australian customers."
Increasing visibility over the production cycle with one repository for data
Since introducing Epicor next-generation ERP, ETEL has experienced a number of key benefits which include having a single depository for important data, an improved ability to provide fast and accurate responses to customer enquiries, and an increased visibility over the production cycle.
"The greatest benefit of Epicor is that we have one source of the truth. For instance, if there is a stock record that needs fixing, we fix it in one place and then everyone has access to that information from anywhere in the organisation.
"It used to be that people would take extracts out of the old system and put them into Excel and they would then manipulate it, they would then find out the truth, go do a stock take and fix their spreadsheet, and that data never got back into the main system for anyone else to use," says Sheldon.
The Epicor Material Requirements Planning solution has also provided a great deal of visibility over the production cycle previously unavailable to the company.
Sheldon explains: "The Epicor MRP system is a more complex system. There is a lot more data on the planning side. We didn't know where a job was in production and now we know exactly where it is in the production cycle.
"With the old system it was like a black hole from raw material to finished goods and now there are all these stages where we have visibility so it's much better for telling our customers where their job is at and it also benefits us to know where the job is up to."
After experiencing important improvements in data accuracy and access, as well as increased visibility over the production cycle, ETEL is planning ahead by looking at adding a broader range of functionality to the company's Epicor system.
"We have deliberately only implemented the core basics of Epicor. We have a year to get our processes and systems bedded down and corrected and then we will look at adding additional modules to our manufacturing, financial and MRP functionality," said Sheldon.
Adding efficiency to reporting with Epicor XL Connect
Epicor XL Connect offers powerful capabilities to ETEL using spreadsheets to gather and arrange business data, providing real-time secured access to Epicor data from Microsoft Office Excel.
Epicor XL Connect has also delivered great benefit to ETEL's reporting processes.
"We are using XL Connect for general ledger," said Sheldon.
"It puts all of our data into Excel for us, all our board reporting and financial reporting, and provides us with a much better reporting tool. Prior to implementing Epicor and XL Connect we would produce accounts in seven working days and now we do it in two working days. A big part of that is XL Connect."
The addition of Epicor XL Connect has provided ETEL with a first-class reporting tool to combat out-of-date analysis where pulling in realtime ERP data is as easy as using a function in a cell.