Talking Rain Beverage Company is based in Preston, Washington, and has 100 employees. With an aging enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in place, company employees often performed tedious data entry, cumbersome reporting, and multiple manual processes outside the system. Looking to improve business insight and productivity, Talking Rain engaged Gilbert & Associates, a Microsoft Certified Partner with a Silver Enterprise Resource Planning competency, and deployed a new ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, in only 90 days. With Microsoft Dynamics NAV in place, the company supports all accounting and manufacturing processes and gains a central repository for company information, easing insight and reporting. With such a comprehensive solution, the company has seen productivity gains across its organization, transforming from a regional to national brand without adding staff.
|We are seeing considerable double-digit growth in revenue this year, and with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, we haven’t had to add staff.|
| Kevin Klock,|
General Manager and Senior Vice President, Talking Rain Beverage Company
From its headquarters in Preston, Washington, Talking Rain Beverage Company
manufactures and distributes a variety of water and sparkling-water beverages. The company draws a majority of its water from an artesian spring originating in the Cascade Mountains. Talking Rain is privately owned and has 100 employees.
For its enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, Talking Rain had relied on Fourth Shift ERP from Infor. But over time, the solution grew obsolete. “As a business, we weren’t gaining the advantages that a modern ERP system would bring us,” says Kevin Klock, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Talking Rain Beverage Company. “And by that point, whether we were to upgrade or get a new system entirely was going to cost us the same amount.”
The company experienced numerous inefficiencies using such an old system, but it ultimately came down to a lack of business insight and tedious, manual processes. For example, because the solution did not run on a single, relational database, information such as customer contact information and customer orders were not associated. To correlate customer purchases to the appropriate accounts, staff needed to manually enter the data from separate tables into a spreadsheet and then further analyze it. In addition, the solution could only account for a year’s worth of activities. To perform historical analysis, employees would once again have to type information from the ERP system into a spreadsheet and then compare it to the same data from a year before. And simply extracting the data for even a month’s worth of company transactions could take as long as 15 minutes. “We were burning a lot of time and resources just pulling data—it was pretty painful,” recalls Klock.
Talking Rain also did not have functionality to support its entire operation—from accounting to all manufacturing processes. Says Klock, “We followed an order through, and it got printed a total of three times as the departments handed it off.”
Klock adds, “And we were unable to show that a product had shipped until three days after we closed. We lacked a true view of our inventory, which could lead to customer service issues where we could sell an out-of-stock item.”
When the company decided to bring its business national in 2010, the need to drive efficiencies with a modern ERP solution that would cost-effectively scale with growth became even more pressing. Says Klock, “Staying with our old system would have buried us in paperwork as we grew nationally and it would have forced us to add more staff.”
|To meet a go-live date as aggressive as this meant there weren’t a whole lot of surprises from the system or the implementation process.|
| Kevin Klock,|
General Manager and Senior Vice President, Talking Rain Beverage Company
After considering its options, including upgrading to the latest version of Fourth Shift, Talking Rain Beverage Company chose to implementMicrosoft Dynamics NAV
. “In looking to bring a next-generation ERP solution to our business, we decided on Microsoft Dynamics NAV because it provides us with the most manufacturing capabilities without requiring us to buy a whole host of additional solutions,” says Klock. “For example, if we went with the next version of Four Shift, we would have had to also purchase a third-party warehouse management solution. Microsoft Dynamics NAV, on the other hand, provides us with a complete solution.”
The solution also fits in well with the company’s plans for national expansion. “Microsoft Dynamics NAV has the capabilities to support our business on a national scale; we could customize and expand it to meet any changing requirements,” explains Klock. “We also felt that there was considerable support for the solution from the Microsoft Partner Network.”
Making the decision to go with Microsoft Dynamics NAV in August, Talking Rain then set the aggressive go-live date of December 4. To drive such an initiative forward, the company engagedGilbert & Associates
, a Microsoft Certified Partner with a Silver Enterprise Resource Planning competency, and successfully implemented the system in only 90 days to meet the deadline. By using the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step
methodology, which consists of implementation and project management techniques, Gilbert & Associates delivered the solution on time and on budget. “To meet a go-live date as aggressive as this meant there weren’t a whole lot of surprises from the system or the implementation process,” enthuses Klock.
Easing access to information, Gilbert & Associates also recommended and implemented Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services to enable users to request common reports on demand directly from the Talking Rain intranet. Previously, employees needed to wait for more than an hour per day to prepare and distribute reports; now, they can compile reports on demand by pulling real-time information directly from Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
Of Talking Rain’s 100 employees, 12 people in key roles across accounting and manufacturing are in and out of Microsoft Dynamics NAV every day. “We’re using the solution for accounts payable, accounts receivable, financial reporting, and manufacturing planning and scheduling,” says Jeff Apel, Controller of Talking Rain Beverage Company. “That includes handling all the inventory turnover, such as making production orders and then scheduling, consuming, and shipping those orders.”
|Role Center in Microsoft Dynamics NAV set up for Talking Rain’s finance team.|
Apel adds, “Microsoft Dynamics NAV touches every key point of our business, including forecasting, sales orders, bills of lading, shipping, purchasing, receiving, inventory, costing, and production.”
Helping to make accounting and manufacturing as intuitive as possible for its employees, Talking Rain opted to use the Role Centers in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. With Role Centers, employees get all the functionality and information they need for their specific job on a single, easy-to-use screen. Employees can also customize the Role Center to their liking, enabling a more fitting and tailored experience. “We’re able to put our most frequently used commands, key performance indicators, and reports all on a single screen,” says Apel. “By making the system as easy to use as possible, the more people we can get to readily adopt it and be productive. Within 60 days, we had equaled or surpassed the usage of our previous solution and most users became comfortable with it relatively quickly, considering the only other solution they had ever used here was Fourth Shift.“
Talking Rain also uses the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) add-in from RedTail Solutions for Microsoft Dynamics NAV to automatically download sales orders from certain customers who are using EDI. Taking the solution even further, Talking Rain has deployed the Advanced Forecasting and Procurement (AFP) add-in from Lanham Associates. Says Ron Denison, Production Manager of Talking Rain Beverage Company, “With AFP, we can now tie in our sales forecast to our sales history and use a number of algorithms to forecast what to build. It has made purchasing managers’ jobs much easier.”
In addition, Talking Rain takes advantage of the add-in Jet Reports. Explains Apel, “Jet Reports makes it very easy to pull all our data into Microsoft Excel and quickly analyze it.” Benefits
With Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Talking Rain has successfully made the transition to a modern ERP system and taken its brand national. Now with a single, centralized solution, Talking Rain has seen considerable improvements in productivity and greatly improved reporting and business insight. Streamline Accounting and Manufacturing
With the robust capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Talking Rain has eliminated many of its once manual processes across accounting and manufacturing. In accounting alone, Klock notes that, “We expect our closing time to be cut in half—going from about 8 to 10 days to about 4 to 5 days. And we can now perform ad-hoc reports and queries within minutes, not days.”
|Microsoft Dynamics NAV touches every key point of our business, including forecasting, sales orders, bills of lading, shipping, purchasing, receiving, inventory, costing, and production.|
| Jeff Apel,|
Controller, Talking Rain Beverage Company
Reflecting on the company’s manufacturing operation, Denison also sees Microsoft Dynamics NAV having a considerable impact. “In manufacturing, we have eliminated the paper-based processes that we once relied on, so warehouse staff can now print bills of lading and ship products all through Microsoft Dynamics NAV,” he says. “It’s making everyone more proficient and their jobs much easier.” Gain Business Insight
Now that all company information is within one system, instead of on countless spreadsheets, company leadership gains holistic insight into the business. Says Klock, “Now I have a true, global view of the business. I can see what is going on and view comparative data without having to pull it from multiple sources and then perform tedious analysis.”
Klock adds, “From a management perspective, we can now hold people and departments accountable for their responsibilities. For example, we can quickly view departments and their spending at a detailed level and automatically compare that against our budgets and determine variances.” Enable Cost-Effective Growth
Talking Rain has found Microsoft Dynamics NAV to come at just the right time, supporting the company in its efforts to grow from a regional to a national brand without adding overhead. “We are seeing considerable double-digital growth in revenue this year, and with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, we haven’t had to add any staff,” says Klock. Improve Customer Relationships
Talking Rain has also seen the new system having an effect on its customer relationships. Says Denison, “By using Microsoft Dynamics NAV, we have reduced out-of-stocks, delayed shipments, and the risk of losing invoices and orders, which equates to a much better experience for our customers.”
Easy access to information in the system has also enabled Talking Rain to provide customers with strategic insight. Says Klock, “We can now go into a meeting with a prospective customer and very easily show them the year-over-year growth of a product. We can even show them the performance of that product by region. Now, our customers can more easily determine the impact that providing our products will have on their business, and make a quicker decision regarding stocking our brand.” Additional Resources Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success.
For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to: www.microsoft.com/dynamics
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For more information about Talking Rain Beverage Company products and services, visit the website at: www.talkingrain.com
For more information about Gilbert & Associates products and services, call (206) 285-4348 or visit the website at: www.gilbertassociates.com