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Cloud ERP helps company track inventory, increase sales

John Moore | Sept. 6, 2013
Implementing cloud-based ERP software wasn't exactly a nuts-and-bolts deployment for FMW Fasteners, as the software needed specific fastener manufacturing industry functionality. Experience rolling our cloud CRM helped, as did an experienced consultant. Now FMW's cloud ERP gains are boosting the firm's ecommerce prospects.

"After two product evaluations and then migrating off of one platform to another, we really wanted to step back and take a hard look at what...would really allow us to grow without doing any additional migrations," Baker says. "We felt like we were in the migration business."

FMW opted for NetSuite. The capability to quickly update cloud software proved to be a key factor.

"Speed for SMB-type companies is everything. How quickly can I react to change? How quickly can I solve process problems? How quickly can I implement actual change that impacts my customers and ultimately my profitability?" Baker says. "The speed at which we can evolve on the cloud is what has best served our growth."

Baker says FMW can now implement a new feature in 48 to 72 hours. Adding a feature used to take 45 to 60 days when working with a vendor of on-premises software. "We were simply not as nimble as we wanted to be," Baker says. "The rollout process and the implementation process was simply too long. We were struggling before we moved into NetSuite."

Consolidation of data in the cloud is another plus. Baker says he doesn't have to worry about integrating changes across multiple software packages. Financial, inventory and customer sales data are housed in NetSuite, on the same platform, he says.

Adding Functionality to Cloud ERP Isn't Hard

One knock against cloud services has been a lack of features that specialized customers demand. FMW, however, was able to work through that particular issue. The company partnered with Sererra to obtain more specialized capabilities.

Baker says the consulting firm was able to bend NetSuite's products around the fastener maker's business processes. Sererra estimates that Netsuite can meet some 90 percent of the fastener industry's requirements, with additional functionality provided through bolt-on additions to the NetSuite platform.

Sererra's VMI module, for instance, lets fastener businesses manage consignment-based inventory for customers. In this inventory approach, fastener companies stock and maintain products at the customer's location. In some cases, the customer pays for the product at the time of consumption. In others, the customer purchases the inventory, but the supplier repurchases unsold products. The VMI module tracks the quote-to-cash process for this style of inventory management.

The MTR and Certificates of Compliance module, meanwhile, aims to help fastener companies manage the quality assurance documents that need to accompany each lot of shipping product. Customers - a car manufacturer, for instance - use MTRs to verify that fasteners meet a certain quality. An MTR provides information on a product's chemical composition, tensile strength, tempering temperature and other pieces of information. It also notes whether a product complies to a particular standard.


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