When it comes to implementing business applications, entering the 21st century isn't always as easily done as said. Working Liner Services, a Monterrey, Mexico-based high-precision metal machining manufacturer that primarily services the oil and gas industries, was ready to move from old-fashioned spreadsheets to a full-fledged ERP system -- but with limited human capital, how and when that could happen was unclear. Once the company discovered the Ramco ERP on Cloud suite, however, the pieces fell into place.
Founded as a small, family-owned business in Guatemala, Working Liner Services (WLS) moved its operations to Mexico two years ago and now counts some large international companies -- such as Halliburton -- among its clients. It was this customer base that convinced WLS to adopt an ERP system, a decision that would eventually lead the company to choose Ramco ERP on Cloud, according to Stefano Boscolo, plant manager.
"[Our customers] brought it to our attention, saying, 'We need to know that you guys have an [ERP] system, so that when you're receiving a lot of orders from a lot of different customers, you're not going to have problems with finding and allocating raw materials to the correct work order,'" he explained.
From spreadsheets to the cloud
Prior to implementing Ramco ERP on Cloud, WLS was working entirely off of Excel spreadsheets. With its clients worried that their information and orders would be lost in the spreadsheet shuffle, WLS needed to make the leap to a full-fledged ERP system. The overwhelming question for Boscolo's software selection team, however, was who would be in charge of such a system.
One of the most important factors in choosing the right ERP system, according to Boscolo, was ease of use. With fewer than 30 employees, WLS truly puts the small in small to mid-sized business, and does not have the staff to support a complex in-house software suite. Adding to an already challenging selection process was the fact that WLS uses only Apple computers and OS X in its office, when the majority of ERP suites are designed to run on Windows.
"When we started to look at the diversity of ERP systems that would work, we discovered cloud-based [ERP]," said Boscolo. WLS' holding company back in Guatemala had an in-house ERP system in place, but Boscolo's team had noticed that it was becoming outdated and required costly upgrades to maintain. "It looked very costly and not too efficient for a starting company," he said.
The solution was clear for Boscolo's team: Taking the cloud ERP route offered all the functionality WLS needed, without the added maintenance burden of an in-house system. In August 2012, Boscolo began reaching out to any ERP vendor that offered services through a simple Web browser, with replies trickling in by October. One of the first vendors to reply was Ramco.
Boscolo began a dialogue with Ramco, exploring how well the vendor could support the specific needs of a manufacturing company and reading case studies from Ramco customers in similar industries.
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"One of my clients showed up in Ramco's list as a customer, so that was huge," he said. "If I'm using the same ERP as my client, they're going to like that, and I know it's good for my operation."
During the ERP selection process, WLS also explored some larger ERP vendors, such as SAP and Epicor, but no one seemed to fit Boscolo's must-have list better than Ramco, particularly the need for an OS-X-friendly suite. "Quite frankly, the people who were most involved in finding the right solution and tailoring it to our needs were from Ramco," Boscolo said.
Boscolo's team wasn't concerned about data security in a cloud environment -- in fact, their research found it to be a safer bet than in-house ERP. "Our auditor asked us, 'If anything happened -- if the building burned down and your information was lost -- do you have a backup remotely somewhere?'" Boscolo recalled. "He told us that going cloud was a good thing [for data security] and not to be afraid of the information being stored somewhere else."
Implementing Ramco ERP
When WLS finally decided to go with Ramco, there was some concern about how well communication would work during the implementation process. After all, WLS was in Mexico, and Ramco had no Central or South American offices. It was soon clear that the physical distance wouldn't affect service, as the cloud system allowed all maintenance to occur online. In addition, Ramco provided a hotline to WLS for quickly reaching a programmer during the implementation and customization process, Boscolo said.
In all, the implementation process took roughly three months. "We uploaded all of our customer contacts, inventory and suppliers [into Ramco], and little by little, the baby started to walk," Boscolo said. "We were able to shape it into a working ERP platform."
Post-implementation employee training was crucial for WLS, especially because the majority of the company's employees are not fluent English speakers. "The platform could have been done in any language, but we chose to have it in English, as we preferred to have our people learn the terms as they are," Boscolo said. "Once you translate [manufacturing terms], a lot of the meaning gets lost."
Despite the challenges of learning so many new words, WLS' employees were excited about the Ramco system and its interactive wizard. "They like how if they have a question, they can ask it [in the wizard] and get a response the same day," he said.
Boscolo is hoping that future updates of Ramco will improve upon this wizard, making it more quickly accessible from any screen in the ERP without the need for multiple windows. This will only make the training process easier for future system users, he said.
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