Using Microsoft Financing, ABE’S® Real Bagels has been able to deploy flexible and powerful Enterprise Resource Planning system Microsoft Dynamics® AX when it was needed most, enabling the business to capitalise on growth opportunities and better manage production and accounting processes.
ABE’S® Real Bagels is a successful New Zealand manufacturer of fresh bagels and bagel crisps, that started out in a small Auckland café and has rapidly grown into a wholesale manufacturer. With the help of Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Koorb Consulting, ABE’S® used Microsoft Financing to enable the purchase and deployment of Microsoft Dynamics® AX, a flexible Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that has enabled ABE’S® to improve and grow its business and expand into the Australian market.
||Growing businesses are money intensive, so being able to get the solution we needed immediately and spread the payments in predictable instalments freed up capital which we could invest in other areas to drive growth.
ABE’S® Real Bagels
In 1996, New Zealanders Megan Sargent and Brent Milburn brought back from Chicago the secret to successful bagel making, and the belief that New Zealanders would love the taste of real Chicago-style bagels. The pair started a café in Auckland’s Swanson Street that quickly grew into a successful wholesale manufacturing business employing 45 full time staff with annual revenue of $NZD5 to10 million. ABE’S® has recently extended its product range manufacturing ABE’S® Bagel Crisps in addition to fresh bagels and has undergone rapid change over the past year, entering into the Australian market and winning a contract to supply over 800 Woolworths supermarkets. With major changes and significant growth of 30 to 40 percent a year ABE’S® urgently needed a new ERP system.
ABE’S® rapid growth and its expansion into Australia meant the business had outgrown its existing custom-built legacy system, which employed Microsoft® Access® for production management and Intuit® Quickbooks for accounting. The company required greater functionality and flexibility from an ERP system and needed a streamlined and scalable solution to manage both production and finances.
Due to a lack of integration between the two legacy systems, the company’s existing accounting system had to be updated monthly with information taken from a manual stock take. This resulted in a lack of visibility into stock levels and costs throughout the month.
“We couldn’t do some of the stock analysis we wanted to do with the old system. We had to actually go and look to see how much flour we were consuming each month, which meant we had to have standing rather than flexible orders,” explains ABE’S® Director Brent Milburn.
“We really needed a system with real-time stock visibility and forecasting tools to better manage production schedules to meet customer demand and improve our service.”
With the expansion into the Australian market, another problem that ABE’S® faced was that its legacy system couldn’t work in multiple currencies. Developing their product offering from fresh bagels to include bagel crisps also required the management of more complex planning and production cycles.
“We’d literally outgrown the system we had and we wanted a platform that would be able to grow with us. We knew we were going to require even more functionality from our system in the very near future so a patch up job just wasn’t an option,” says Milburn.
When it became clear that ABE’S® legacy system could no longer meet business needs, ABE’S® evaluated several ERP systems including SAP, MYOB Exonet and Microsoft Dynamics® AX. ABE’S® chose Microsoft Dynamics AX for its superior flexibility, scalability and manufacturing capabilities, and the knowledge that Microsoft Dynamics® AX would integrate seamlessly with existing systems. The Microsoft Financing package was the icing on the cake. “The financing rate was very competitive and being able to finance the solution over the lifetime of our IT investment was a huge advantage for us,” says Milburn.
Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner, Koorb Consulting assisted ABE’S® in finding and implementing the right solution for the company.
“We were impressed from the start with the obvious depth of understanding Koorb had of our industry,” says Milburn. “They stepped forward with a large pool of experienced consultants and developers, specific expertise in FMCG manufacturing, a large number of current Microsoft Dynamics AX sites and very importantly - strong site references. It was obvious that partnering with them would be a low risk option for ABE’S®. Once we started working with them, Koorb matched us up with consultants who had skills to fit our specific business needs, and crystallised the phrase "Industry Best Practise" into actual workable solutions.”
One of the consultants, Tim Schofield, explains that there were several factors that made Microsoft Dynamics AX the perfect fit.
“Microsoft Dynamics AX is extremely scalable so while a number of our deployments are in large companies, it is also suits smaller manufacturing environments. The system fitted ABE’S® like a glove. It supported all aspects of the business from processes to trade and logistics; to capacity planning and warehouse management; as well as integrating requirements for improved financial management,” says Schofield.
“Although ABE’S® is a relatively small company in terms of head count, it’s actually a large company when you look at the number of orders it’s processing and the number of transactions it’s keying – a package that had a lot of functionality, but had the ability to scale to quite high transaction volumes was needed.”
Koorb began implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX at the end of 2007 and the system went live on schedule and on budget in early April 2008 – just in time to provide the multicurrency functionality that ABE’S® required for its entry into the Australian market.
To meet ABE’S® key needs Microsoft Dynamics AX had almost everything ABE’S® needed right out of the box, with a look and feel that was familiar to staff who were already accustomed to using other Microsoft products. However, Microsoft Dynamics AX also had the advantage of integrating easily with existing systems.
Using the Application Integration Framework (AIF) module, Koorb was easily able to integrate an existing planning system used to designate van delivery routes and take delivery orders with Microsoft Dynamics AX.
While Microsoft Dynamics AX was clearly the best technical solution for ABE’S®, the availability of Microsoft Financing meant that the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX was achievable.
“Financing the solution made a real difference to us. Growing businesses are money intensive, so being able to get the solution we needed immediately and spread the payments in predictable instalments freed up capital which we could invest in other areas to drive growth,” says Milburn.
Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Financing has allowed ABE’S® to grow its business and manage a period of rapid change, bringing enhanced functionality and flexibility, enabling more informed decision-making and greater capacity to meet customer demand.
Managing growth and change
The multicurrency capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX and the system’s scalability and flexibility made it possible for ABE’S® to enter into a new market and manage new planning and production schedules. Microsoft Dynamics AX will allow the business to develop even further in the future with the capability to add modules and further customise the system to meet new business needs as they arise.
Microsoft Financing supports growth
Microsoft Financing provided ABE’S® with immediate access to capital so that they could purchase and deploy the IT solution they needed when they needed it most. ABE’S® payments are spread over time in monthly payments rather than one big investment up front, freeing up budgets and existing sources of capital so that they can be used to continue growing the business.
“Because there’s not a ready supply of cash in a high growth company, having the opportunity to finance through Microsoft Financing meant that we could support the investment and with Koorb’s help it was a smooth process. I would absolutely 100 percent recommend Microsoft Financing to other businesses,” says Milburn.
Informed decision-making gives a competitive advantage
Streamlining processes with a single system for manufacturing and accounting and the ability to access and share information quickly and easily with speedy reporting has enabled ABE’S® to make better decisions, making savings in management time and improving the quality of management reporting.
Real-time profit and loss, a real-time balance sheet and the ability to feed in sales forecasts generates an efficient production plan for a faster production cycle. This has resulted in more effective production management and financial control and the ability to respond to customer demand, giving ABE’S® a strong competitive advantage.
A solution with room for growth
As the business continues to grow and develop, ABE’S® Real Bagels will build further on its technology solution, taking advantage of the system’s multicurrency and multiwarehouse capabilities and connecting a forecasting add-in. ABE’S® also plan to upgrade to Windows® Small Business Server 2008 and upgrade the company’s smart phones to Windows Mobile® 6 which will enable mobile integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX if required.
“Microsoft Dynamics AX has the ability to grow with our business. With new versions being released regularly, we’re pretty confident that no matter where we go or what we do the system will be able to cope with our evolving business,” says Milburn.
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