Shooting at the Heart of the Software Integration Beast
FeraDyne Outdoors is a dominating force in its market segment. Based in Superior, Wisconsin, the company designs, manufactures and sells bow-hunting accessories, broadheads, and bow-fishing equipment to hunters and fishers nationwide.
Their story is similar to many successful organizations today; they grew by serving customers and focusing on operational excellence. FeraDyne Outdoors made it difficult for others to compete, so much so that in the last 24 months, it has acquired four other manufacturers. Yet while merging these manufacturers into the fold, FeraDyne experienced a common phenomenon in M&A growth: system underwhelm and data overload.
To tame the software integration beast, FeraDyne execs partnered with the software and business consulting experts at Exceptional Software Solutions LLC. We recently spoke with Mark Record, Director of Accounting of FeraDyne Outdoors, as he discussed how ESS helped the company move from using multiple ERP and finance systems to one streamlined ERP solution without losing large amounts of data.
Multiple Underwhelming Systems
The Oprah Show was famous for giving away cars. Remember the exhilaration of “You get a car. “You get a car. Everyone gets a car!”? The idea of “everyone wins” is awesome for Oprah Show audience members and Little League, yet the concept of “many” doesn’t quite translate when it comes to ERPs. A manufacturer doesn’t need four different ERP systems; it needs the system that best fits its processes.
FeraDyne had bought out four different companies each with its own system and way of working with Excel and other applications – in a short amount of time, four was just way too many systems.
"We inherited Macola Progression from one company that we bought," Mark Record said. "We had QuickBooks in two other companies and Epicor running in a fourth company. It was a nightmare trying to pull up simple things like sales history reports or even doing journal entries or financial statements, because we had four different systems that we were pulling information from. Not a single one fulfilled our needs."
The duplicative and disparate systems caused even more headaches when closing out the month or trying to forecast numbers, because data had to be transferred from one to the other just to create reports. This entire process was slowing down productivity, not to mention causing a boatload of redundant work, and angst.
ERROR: System Overload
Another problem for FeraDyne was the incredible amount of data found in QuickBooks and Progression. When growing the company and transitioning systems, they needed an application that wouldn't break from massive amount of data.
"We had the two QuickBooks companies and Progression... [At this point] we even debated, do we just want to move Progression into QuickBooks? But when we saw how much data was already in QuickBooks and how much was in Progression, it was too big for QuickBooks. The sheer volume was making QuickBooks very unstable. At that point, it had to be rebuilt every weekend " says Mark Record, Controller of FeraDyne Outdoors
Applications crashing and needing to be rebuilt every weekend took away time and productivity from other tasks. The constant system crashing was the company’s breaking point. The execs needed to find a different solution – fast.
The Roadmap to the Right ERP
FeraDyne’s approach to selecting the right ERP solution wasn’t as simple as doing a quick two-minute online search. Multiple people in the company had different ideas on which ERP solutions they wanted and how much they wanted to spend.
"We really needed to find an ERP system that would help us at an inventory tracking level, an ordering level, a production scheduling tool as well as a financial tool, sales history tool ... etc. And we did do our due diligence." – Mark Record
"We were hearing it from the manufacturing side, from the procurement side, from the sales side, the accounting side. We are fortunate as a company to have people that were familiar with many different solutions. For example, some with SAP wanted certain functionality from SAP. We also have folks that were familiar with JD Edwards and wanted certain functionality from that..."
"Some of the biggest criteria that we wanted were reporting without having to dump it into Excel first. We also wanted to add MRP functionality and a solid customer relationship manager. Finally, we had to be sure that whatever the system, we had the ability just to write to the data set itself to pull queries."
So how did FeraDyne come down to a decision? They discussed the issues at length with different departments and from different sides, then created a list of 30 to 40 criteria that the new ERP system needed to have. They mapped their own ideal process: an order-to-cash type of workflow so everyone involved knew how the company operated and exactly what the new system had to be able to do. Then they called in experts.
Tapping the Right Team of ERP Experts
With their homework and research complete (system criteria and business process roadmap in hand), Mark and Team FeraDyne set out to find the best ERP implementation team in the business to help them review the options and select the best system for its needs.
"Internally, it was no secret that we were looking for a new ERP. Jeff, on our financial planning team, pitched in and did something none of us thought to do. He joined a LinkedIn online help forum. There he found Tod Replogle and the team at Exceptional Software Solutions LLC. Introductions were made and we were off to the races.”
The award-winning team at Exceptional had a simple remit: help the outdoor products supplier find a single ERP solution with all the features they needed, at a cost they could afford, and implement the system without losing a single piece of data. With careful consideration of what FeraDyne needed most, the ESS recommended retiring Progression and moving to Macola 10.
“ESS was able to take the data that we had from the other systems and migrate it safely and securely. We had the layout of what the tables were in Progression. The Exceptional Software Solutions LLC team walked us step by step through the process of mapping out all the tables in Progression before moving the data to Macola. It sounds like a simple thing- it’s not, and it was some of the best advice." – Mark Record
With the help from Exceptional Software Solutions, Mark Record at FeraDyne was able to implement their plan to transition to a new ERP in a smooth manner while seamlessly having all their data in one overall ERP software solution. Forming such a valuable partnership with the software experts at Exceptional Solution Solutions LLC allowed FeraDyne to use its new system, Macola 10, to its fullest potential.
FeraDyne gained key features that they required for their manufacturing processes and procedures. Some benefits were:
Availability for both iOS and Android devices
Familiarity with Macola 10 due to Progression experience
Dedicated support and help from Exceptional Software Solutions
Out-of-the-box reporting features
Better data drill-down capabilities
Ability to get the data without needing to write SQL queries
Immense time-saving advantages
"Leslie Bather did a great job planning and overseeing the implementation. She’s a great facilitator of projects. Senior Consultants Pat Carrick and Biji Manalay were instrumental in making sure we had the right data sets and where they needed to go. Pat and Leslie are helping us with our MRP and our standard custom shop floor control implementation as we're going through our phase two implementation right now. Biji is the technical guy who knows how to write a script to work from SQL, and Pat's a great trainer. It's such a pleasure for our team to work these ERP experts." – Mark Record