United Cement Company of Nigeria (UNICEM) operates the most technically advanced cement plant south of the Sahara. The company needed a modern business process management system to comply with new reporting standards and improve controls. After considering SAP and JD Edwards software, UNICEM opted for Microsoft Dynamics® NAV 2009, which was implemented for 45 per cent less than the cost of deploying SAP, and exceeded targets set by UNICEM.
UNICEM in Cross River State, Nigeria, inaugurated a state-of-the-art cement plant in 2009 with the capacity to manufacture 2.5 million tonnes of cement a year. Partly owned by foreign investors, including Lafarge of France and Holcim of Switzerland, the factory supplies the Nigerian construction industry with high-quality cement.
|We are completely satisfied with the high level of performance from Dynamics NAV. Compared to the cost of SAP we have saved at least 45 per cent on the deployment.|
|Lelito R. Flores Jr.|
Business Process and Reporting Solutions Manager,
When discussions about a replacement for the existing version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV began, UNICEM faced a tight deadline to have the system in place for the opening of the new plant in Calabar by the first quarter of 2009. Around U.S.$754 million had been invested in the factory and the shareholders wanted to ensure value for money in any software procurement.
Lelito R. Flores Jr., Business Process and Reporting Solutions Manager, UNICEM Nigeria, says: “Our two major overseas shareholders, which were using SAP and JD Edwards Oracle software respectively, required us to improve our reporting to meet international standards. Furthermore, we needed to increase the added value from our business management software with different modules for implementing new procedures. This includes invoicing, preventive maintenance, production planning, supply chain management, electronic security and access procedures, plus more efficient month-end closing. Finally, we wanted to eliminate errors caused by manual systems and transfer knowledge to our staff. High-quality locally available technical and training support was also a consideration.”
Gems Consulting advised UNICEM that Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 offered all the functions required for a real-time system compliant with international accountancy reporting. Ademiju O. Aluko, Managing Consultant, Gems Consulting, says: “With more than a decade’s experience with Microsoft Dynamics NAV software, we were able to apply a great deal of locally available expertise to customising the solution.”
The ability of Gems Consulting to implement the Microsoft software and meet the UNICEM deadlines was also critical. Aluko says: “Discussions began in late 2008 and we started work on site early the following year, completing the deployment in just five weeks with each department integrated into the system and all the controls in place. A competitor solution, such as SAP, would not have been able to deliver in time for the start of production at the end of the first quarter of 2009.”
Gems Consulting also provided training for different departments in UNICEM, which had not previously used Microsoft Dynamics NAV. These include the procedure for customers to access the plant, which is through the use of a secured numeric password similar to a personal identification number.
The weighbridge controls for trucks collecting cement have also been automated through Microsoft Dynamics NAV for the first time. “The rate of adoption of the software by employees was much faster than expected,” says Aluko. “Through the rapid adaptability, simplified customisation, and ease of use offered by Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you can easily add functionality, and customise applications and online business capabilities relevant to the local needs of our customers’ businesses.”
UNICEM deployed its Microsoft business management software for 45 per cent less than the cost of SAP. The solution met all its requirements for new reporting standards and controls over its workflows. Unlike the previous system in the decommissioned unit, Microsoft Dynamics NAV operates in real time, making month-end reporting to shareholders a simple process. Flores says: “We are completely satisfied with the high level of performance from Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Compared to the cost of SAP we have saved at least 45 per cent on the deployment.”
- Reduces deployment costs. Instead of working through its shareholders to import outside experts to implement competitor solutions, UNICEM worked in partnership with Gems Consulting and its locally recruited Microsoft Dynamics NAV technicians.
- Exceeds performance targets. According to Aluko, the Microsoft solution not only met but exceeded all the standards required by UNICEM for real-time reporting and new workflow controls and processes.
- Improves security for customers. UNICEM no longer relies on manual or paper-based systems when its customers access the factory or undergo weighbridge checks when leaving the plant. “Greater certainty over the accuracy of invoicing and weighbridge checks has resulted in enhanced security and raised customer satisfaction,” says Flores.
- Ensures compliance with reporting standards. With real-time reporting of the month-end accounts, the overseas shareholders now have much better visibility over the performance of the business and its contribution to their respective balance sheets.
- Speeds adoption. Despite the increase in the number of departments in UNICEM using the software, the rate of adoption and knowledge transfer has been rapid. Flores says: “For the first month, we required increased support from Gems Consulting, but now we’re comfortable with all the key modules.”
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