As Webtec grows, it turns to Epicor for an ERP system that would perform as its old software did, but would also be independent, fully integrated and with multi- country support.
Webtec is a UK based manufacturing company, specialising in hydraulic measurement and control products for use on mobile and industrial machinery. Over a six-year period Webtec has nearly doubled in size, but through efficiencies gained using Epicor ERP, its headcount has remained almost unchanged.
Scale up, or move out
Throughout its history Webtec has always embraced new technology, whether on the shop floor or in the back office. In the 1980s it was one of the first UK manufacturers to implement what would become known as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.
Despite being classed as an SME, Webtec grew into a complex business, selling to 50 countries through a number of channels and with systems trying to support all business functions plus incorporate the design and manufacture of mechanical, electronic and software components.
Throughout this period of growth, the internal IT team at Webtec developed new features for its ERP system and, where features could not be implemented, purchased additional software or used spreadsheets to try and meet the needs of the business.
By 2006, it was becoming apparent that the existing system was reaching the end of its useful life. Its maintenance and day-to-day care dominated the time of the IT team. It was also apparent to the management team that the situation was stopping the business scaling and they were simply not able to fully explore the range of opportunities that lay before them.
“We had a number of disparate and unconnected systems that made it nearly impossible for departments to share information,” said Stephen Cuthbert, operations director for Webtec. “It had become clear that we needed a new system that could properly support the complexities of our business and improve our operational efficiency end-to-end, from quote-to-cash.”
Webtec needed an ERP system that would perform all the functions of its disparate software products, but with multi- country, currency, site and language support, fully integrated financials and advanced engineering. Other key criteria were the need for Webtec staff to be able to configure the product without outside support and rich business intelligence that would allow teams to quickly build dashboards and reports. Webtec also wanted to ensure that a wide range of modules existed to support future company growth and change.
“There were plenty of SME products for us to review, but the truth is that they couldn’t cope with the complexities of our business,” explains Stephen. “They lacked the flexibility to configure the product easily, and in many cases lacked features such as multi-currency financials or advanced planning and scheduling. They were single currency finance packages, with crude manufacturing features bolted on.”
Once selected, a project team with representatives from each department was assembled to implement Epicor ERP. No external implementation partner was used, but the internal team was supported directly by Epicor as required – covering data transference and initial project team training.
Data was split into two groups, with historical information remaining in the original system, and live data (including customers, suppliers, parts, manufacturing routes and BOMs) moving into Epicor ERP. It took four months for Webtec to implement Epicor ERP, and six months to complete the process once live.
“Epicor ticked all the boxes for us, and we could envisage it growing, with Webtec,” adds Stephen. “During the implementation, rather than move everything, our philosophy was that the old system would over time need to be used less and less as a new history built up in Epicor. Extracting data was quite easy, but formatting and validating it to go into Epicor was not, though the tools for this have improved dramatically since our initial implementation.”
Improved efficiency across the board
In the six years since implementing Epicor ERP, and applying subsequent version updates, Webtec has substantially improved its operational efficiency. The company has become much more agile and has grown by over 70%, yet its headcount remains virtually unchanged. The company used to employ four people to manage filing and administration, but by utilising the available facilities in Epicor ERP, the need for paper filing, administration and rekeying have all but disappeared.
“We have greatly increased our efficiency and our staff are more focused on the tasks that count,” comments Stephen. “We are making extensive use of many features: such as the recently improved financials module. End of month accounts used to take two weeks on the old system, in Epicor the first draft is available for checking on day one of the new month!”
Webtec now has better visibility of its business through the use of real-time data. Most staff and managers have two screens at their desks, one of which is dedicated to displaying task appropriate dashboards, the majority of which are updated in real-time. These dashboards are interactive allowing users to interrogate the transactions behind a figure.
Improved visibility has allowed Webtec to build a stronger cash position, in part by using production planning to lower on-hand stock levels, and increase the on-time delivery performance. Using Business Activity Queries (BAQs) and building reports or dashboards has meant staff can easily interrogate Epicor using both one-off queries or regularly produced reports.
The fully integrated CRM processes have been one of the greatest gains for Webtec, as they can be used remotely by staff at tradeshows to enter leads directly into Epicor from the stand. Staff back at head office can then immediately act on a lead to supply relevant material or information. Because CRM is a core part of Epicor, the success of a show in terms of customer quality, orders secured, or marketing spend can be easily assessed.
“Epicor has lowered our maintenance overheads, made us more efficient and helped us make significant strides forward as a business,” concludes Stephen. “There are only a couple of people in the company that don’t use it every day, and one of them is the cleaner!”