A supplier of low-energy, high-efficiency cleaning systems to restaurants and hotels, Auto-Chlor Services, LLC, is part of a network that has more than 70,000 customers. Wishing to better serve its customers, the company was gradually moving from an IBM AS/400 system to Microsoft Dynamics GP. However, the inability to easily connect systems and re-create legacy customizations prevented Auto-Chlor Services from moving its sales information onto the solution. After a thorough search, the company chose Extender for Microsoft Dynamics GP and SmartConnect from eOne Solutions. SmartConnect moves data in and out of Microsoft Dynamics GP from other systems and Extender enables customization without writing code. With its new efficiencies, Auto-Chlor Services reduced development time and cost, increased overall system performance, and strengthened its ability to deliver superior customer service.
||By using SmartConnect and Extender, we can quickly create custom solutions that meet our unique business needs with relatively little expense.
||Marion Giammerse, Vice President of Information Systems, Auto-Chlor Services, LLC
Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Auto-Chlor Services, LLC, supplies institutional and commercial customers with high-efficiency dishwashers, laundry systems, cleaning products, and maintenance services. The company is part of a network that has more than 70,000 customers in the United States and has been in business since 1946.
Over the past several years, Auto-Chlor Services has been moving its business functions off of various stand-alone, legacy systems and onto Microsoft Dynamics GP. “We envision using Microsoft Dynamics GP as our main ERP system. Eventually, we want all our business information up-to-date on Microsoft SQL Server, which underlies Microsoft Dynamics GP, for reporting purposes,” says Troy Kent, Senior IT Engineer for ERP at Auto-Chlor Services.
To further consolidate business information on Microsoft Dynamics GP, Auto-Chlor Services wanted to find a way to more easily move data from its sales and receivables system into the solution. In addition, the company wanted to streamline the input of sales and service information from field offices into Microsoft Dynamics GP. The ultimate goal for the company was to gain a more comprehensive and up-to-date view of its operations.
Auto-Chlor Services, LLC, needed the ability to easily customize its implementation of Microsoft Dynamics GP to meet specific business requirements, especially regarding integration and simplifying data input. After some investigation by Auto-Chlor’s Microsoft Dynamics GP partner, Diamond Software, the company chose a third-party tool, SmartConnect by eOne Solutions, and Extender for Microsoft Dynamics GP.
Marion Giammerse, Vice President of Information Systems at Auto-Chlor Services, explains how the functionality helped the company create maintainable, flexible customizations for Microsoft Dynamics GP. “By using SmartConnect and Extender, we can quickly create custom solutions that meet our unique business needs with relatively little expense,” he says. “Although there were no third-party solutions available for what we needed, these technologies helped us to extend Microsoft Dynamics GP to capture more critical business information from our field operations and process it more quickly.”
Auto-Chlor Services uses SmartConnect to import data from its legacy IBM AS/400 system and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that field offices send in. With Extender, employees can create new screens and business logic without directly modifying code in Microsoft Dynamics GP. Auto-Chlor Services can make multiple, customized updates to the solution from a single set of imported data. This flexibility enables the company to automate processes and push out specific information to other platforms.
“We import data coming in from the field and use it to update orders, inventory, and asset-tracking systems in Microsoft Dynamics GP,” says Kent. “This integration is much simpler and more robust than our previous processes. And, we now have information in SQL Server sooner and in greater detail for business intelligence purposes.”
Tracking Service Agreements
Auto-Chlor Services uses the consolidated, up-to-date flow of information coming into Microsoft Dynamics GP to keep track of its dishwashing machines. With the enhancements, Auto-Chlor Services can capture the frequency of service visits, materials used on those visits, related notes or instructions, and cleaning products and equipment sold during service visits.
Replacing Legacy System Functions
Taking advantage of its newfound flexibility in Microsoft Dynamics GP, Auto-Chlor Services replaced sales functionality that previously ran in its IBM AS/400 system. “One of our IT staff members used Extender to quickly create a prototype solution that mirrored the functionality of our legacy system,” explains Giammerse. “And, based on feedback from our business stakeholders, he was able to improve the solution so that it captured more detailed information about each sale.”
Auto-Chlor Services, LLC, now has the tools it needs to consolidate business information onto its core ERP platform, Microsoft Dynamics GP. In addition, the company has simplified IT development and support.
Reduced Development and Support Costs
Auto-Chlor Services can now meet changing business needs faster and at less cost. The company’s IT staff use the tools to quickly prototype new functionality and modify existing solutions.
Auto-Chlor Services also benefits from easier software upgrades and maintenance because of the built-in upgrade path. “Because there was no third-party solution available, we faced the prospect of having to manipulate the database and create custom code for the user interface,” says Giammerse. “Taking that route would increase upfront development costs and possibly break the solution after installing software patches or updates.”
Faster Response to Business Needs
Because changes to the system do not require special programming skills, Auto-Chlor Services IT staff can make modifications to the solutions themselves. “Previously, we were fully reliant on someone else to adjust our systems,” says Kent. “Now, we are empowered to respond to our business stakeholders much faster than before. Because of this, we’re starting to see a lot more requests for changes as people realize just what the solution can accomplish.”
Kent is pleased with how customizations are intuitive and accessible to nonprogrammers. “Extender is like a palette that helps you create forms that look like native screens in Microsoft Dynamics GP,” he says.
Improved System Performance by 300 Percent
Auto-Chlor Services gathers more complete information from its field operations and processes it faster than before. “We’ve significantly increased the amount of data we collect, but the speed at which we process transactions has increased by 300 percent, when compared to alternative solutions,” says Kent.
Deepened Business Insight
With more information pulled into SQL Server faster, Auto-Chlor Services can provide business managers with the insight they need to make better decisions. For example, sales managers receive information on customer transactions sooner and sales representatives in the field have information they need to strengthen relationships with customers. Having this information helps managers identify customer opportunities or resolve issues before they become serious problems.
“With the enhancements we made to Microsoft Dynamics GP, we are now able to process all sales information in a timely manner,” says Giammerse. “That helps us accomplish the ultimate goal of getting more complete information to our field sales managers faster.”