AMX products span control and automation, system-wide switching and audio/video signal distribution, digital signage and technology management. Their products are found worldwide in conference rooms, homes, classrooms, network operation / command centers, hotels, entertainment venues, broadcast facilities, among others.
AMX hardware and software solutions simplify the use of technology to create effective environments. While simplification has always been a key value proposition to their customers, AMX found it difficult to maintain a complicated and cumbersome Excel-based quoting system that could only be driven by eight internal “quote designers” (AMX has more than 100 sales and technical personnel). Sales “Exceptions” approval requests were performed via email or word-of-mouth which caused delays and possible lost revenue. Forecasting and other key performance indicator reports were not adequate.
AMX was also burdened with building hardware quotes on behalf of their extensive dealer network. Empowering dealers to create proposals for AMX solutions via a web portal was a common request from their resellers.
After successfully rolling out Microsoft Dynamics CRM to their sales and service teams, AMX initiated a search for a sophisticated product configurator to replace their Excel quoting system.
“Experlogix knocked it out of the park”, says Ashley Denison, Director of Global IT, AMX. “We were in a time crunch and decided to approach five different vendors directly instead of going through a long RFP process. The vendors were invited to an online presentation where we demonstrated our quoting challenges. Each supplier was asked to come back with a customized demo showing us how we could improve our quoting system”, continues Denison. “Experlogix listened to what our issues were, helped clarify our requirements and came back with a concise and sophisticated pricing and product configuration tool tailored to the AMX business model”
“The integration of Experlogix with Dynamics CRM has been a huge win for AMX – a hundred times better than the Excel system we were using,” says Denison. “We simply outgrew Excel. All the data is now in Dynamics CRM and Experlogix, not endless spreadsheets.”
“There were no data mining capabilities previously,” continues Denison. “For example, it was difficult to know how many AMX Touch panels had been quoted and existed in the sales pipeline or how many orders were closed. Now we can easily track all activity as after each quote or order is created it is saved back into Dynamics CRM and allows the business to have full visibility.”
The Experlogix Configurator has enabled AMX to improve from creating roughly 300 quotes per month to over 700 quotes per month - representing an increase of 250 percent. Given the complex systems, quote accuracy has also improved tremendously from the previous Excel-based system. “With our old Excel system, you had to know the rules and most of us didn’t have that knowledge,” says Denison. Today, Experlogix empowers all AMX sales reps with the knowledge to build complex hardware proposals correctly. And with more than 6,000 products to sell, Experlogix enables reps to rapidly search across all product categories for the right item. Experlogix assigns recommended accessories to each product and suggestions are dynamically displayed at the right moment, increasing revenues. “Experlogix makes you do it right,” says Denison.
Experlogix also combines with sophisticated workflow rules in Dynamics CRM to automate multi-level discount approval requests. In the past, discounts were primarily approved through email or word of mouth and order entry would need to chase discount approvals with managers. Now, discounts are only granted if approved through a multi-level approval process with email notifications to both sales and dealer personnel.
AMX also deployed the Experlogix Configurator Portal Edition for their dealer network. The “AMX Quote Portal” empowers self-service hardware quotes for their dealers. “This is a phenomenal time saver for our dealers,” states Denison. “Now they can create simple quotes on their own. If they need design assistance, Experlogix enables us to hide products from public users while making them visible to AMX designers.”
AMX proposals serve many different audiences. Therefore, once Experlogix was implemented with Dynamics CRM to streamline product catalog and pricing calculations, AMX was able to implement a modular quote proposal. This structure gave sales reps the ability to instantly add or remove MSRP/dealer pricing, quote sections, service hours, terms & conditions and more.
From the AMX IT department’s perspective, the biggest advantage to choosing Experlogix is that the end users are now responsible for all components of their quoting process where before all changes had to go through IT, holding up valuable resources. “Experlogix is a great product because it is self-sufficient, it runs itself and does not require IT resources – the business group owns it. This is huge for us,” says Denison.
“Experlogix has driven us to become more proactive with integrating products, discounts, and forecasting back into Dynamics CRM. This has enabled the introduction of strategic reporting that we have not had for many years,” comments Denison. “Experlogix is 100 times better than the Excel tool we were using. The product knowledge has increased dramatically and has made AMX more streamlined in its product information processes. Bottom line: Experlogix helps AMX get products to market faster”.
Eye Designs, LLC, has a history of success as the leader in designing dynamic customer environments and merchandising systems in the ophthalmic industry.
Prior to implementing Experlogix Configurator, the proposal process was a time consuming, mistake-prone exercise for an Eye Designs sales person. Reps had to travel to the main office to create a quote and had to manually juggle multiple price lists and discount levels.
“The staff at Experlogix was amazing. They were willing to work at our pace and meet our deadlines.”
Eye Designs’ Microsoft Dynamics partner, Cargas Systems, researched ISV solutions and recommended Experlogix to Eye Designs. “After investigating Microsoft Dynamics CRM™ quoting add-ons, we found Experlogix to be the most complete and easiest to install solution for our clients,” says Brett Meyer, CRM Practice Manager, Cargas Systems.
“Experlogix Configurator combined with Microsoft CRM and Microsoft SL gives us a completely integrated package,” says William Lithgow, director of Manufacturing and Operations. “We can create a quote from any location that our sales representatives have internet access. We have experienced greater accuracy and speed with Experlogix.”
Managing multiple price levels is also automated. According to Lithgow, “The Experlogix Formula Designer is a great feature. We now have the ability to use multiple prices lists without creating separate lists in the accounting and CRM systems.” Reps can also view line-drawings of options in Experlogix to ensure quote accuracy.
Fleet Complete is a leading global provider of IoT solutions in the connected, commercial vehicle space. They help over 30,000 businesses worldwide to be more successful by bringing a tailored approach to their fleet, asset and mobile workforce management needs.
The company was originally conceived to meet the demands of the courier service industry, but rapidly grew across multiple sectors, including transportation, distribution, and field services. The primary reason for Fleet Complete's success is their integrated approach to customer needs, providing solutions in a single, comprehensive telematics platform that is scalable to any business.
In December 2017, a government-mandated need for compliance in the trucking industry came into effect, which required the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) by federally-regulated motor carriers and commercial vehicle drivers. Many of these carriers and drivers were hesitant at first and only acquired devices at the last minute – resulting in an influx of sales and service calls. That meant a huge growth in business, but also an incredible demand on internal resources.
The company has been receiving an overwhelming number of requests and needed a system that would provide tools to support business processes, improve customer communications, and enable growth.
Not long after this surge in business, which Fleet Complete referred to as "man your battle stations" mode, the company kicked into disaster recovery mode. In January 2018, the Fleet Complete head offices in Toronto, Canada, were flooded. In addition to being extremely busy, many of employees could not access the office.
The Human Resources team immediately started working with first responders, coordinating with the facilities management team, and most importantly, figuring out a continuity plan that would allow for business to continue at a fast pace.
The use of Microsoft Teams for quick chat conversations, file sharing, voice and video calls was more important than ever, given Fleet Complete's circumstances. Kelly-Ann Hewko, Executive Assistant, recalls feeling reassured, despite the head office being under water, since she had already been using the software on a daily basis. As Fleet Complete employees had already embraced the use of Microsoft Teams in their day-to-day work, the transition to working remotely was a lot easier.
Due to Fleet Complete's ability to embrace cloud technology, such as Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Dynamics 365, the company remained completely operational in the midst of a disaster.
Hands-on Labs, Inc. (HOL) produces LabPaqs, a unique science kit that provide students with the opportunity to fulfill science laboratory requirements without being on campus. Its extensive line of LabPaqs science kits for multiple disciplines provides all lab equipment, materials, and instructions to safety and effectively enable students to perform science experiments off campus at their convenience.
Online education is one of the hottest new trends today in post-secondary education. It greatly expands the scope of course offerings and the reach of individual professors, and provides students with a cost-effective means of getting instruction. Up until recently, however, science classes were beyond the reach of online education, as course work typically is dependent on hands-on lab work.
HOL created its versatile LabPaq line to address this challenge. LabPaqs provides the science equipment, chemicals, specimens, supplies, personal safety items, and CD-based lab manuals necessary for remote lab work.
The only company of its kind, HOL has seen phenomenal growth. Based in Englewood, CO, it was named the 35th fastest growing small company in the metropolitan Denver area in 2011; and ranked #1625 in Inc.5000’s 2011 magazine’s list, as well.
The core of its original business system solution included Excel spreadsheets for product configuration; QuickBooks for material planning and forecasting; a basic order management system; and a bare-bones, inflexible hosted CRM system.
“With the Experlogix Configurator running inside Dynamics CRM, we’ve seen our time-to-quote reduced from as much as 2 days down to 5 minutes.”
Given that each LabPaq is essentially a unique, one-off creation that has to be configured to each instructor’s course syllabus, the challenge of quickly developing accurate customer order quotes – compounded by rapid business growth – outpaced the power of Excel spreadsheets to ably handle the task.
“We were manually creating complex product orders based on Excel,” says Jeff Klinger, Director of Operations. “It was very time consuming and error prone. We began looking for the right tools that could manage our business rules and quickly generate order prices that we could reliably quote to our customers.”
HOL elected to upgrade its entire enterprise solution. It selected Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP for finance, material planning, order processing, and inventory; and Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM solution to gain greater control over the management of opportunities, customers, and contacts.
HOL researched the Experlogix Product Configurator for managing the complexity of generating custom, customer order configurations.
“We wanted a tool with an intuitive user interface,” says Klinger. “We also wanted one that could manage all the business rules our sales team uses generating custom or configured customer orders. It had to be simple to use, but one that could group, filter, and sort items in much the same way the Excel program did – but with greater flexibility and functional power.”
HOL decided that Experlogix should integrate directly with the Dynamics CRM system. Webfortis, the Dynamics CRM VAR, engineered the primary enterprise integration between Dynamics NAV and Dynamics CRM, using the Scribe data integration toolset. The company also updated its e-commerce front-end to better integrate with Dynamics NAV. As a result, all process and data flows became virtually seamless between all systems.
“One of the most valuable Experlogix features is its rules engine. Every order is unique. It’s not just the sum of all options. Materials for every LabPaq are uniquely specified in varying amounts,” Klinger states.
Experlogix worked with HOL to enable the system to handle quantity variation, making it easy for the Experlogix Configurator to create more than 2,500 unique rules for material variation alone. HOL had a fairly unique format for how their Bill of Materials (BOM) was being generated, but Experlogix’s ease of extensibility allowed the system to be tailored exactly to their needs. “Experlogix solved the challenge in a very straightforward, logical manner,” says Klinger.
Clients design detailed experiments that are maintained as opportunities, or “soft orders,” in the company’s Dynamics CRM system. Over 90 percent of all orders come in through the company’s e-commerce site. Orders are then received into Dynamics NAV, which handles management of matching all the configured sales opportunities.
“We were very fortunate to have a really good team of consultants from all three vendors that worked smoothly together,” Klinger says. “The integrated Experlogix-Microsoft Dynamics NAV-and-Dynamics CRM solution provides us with a single source of information. It’s the platform we need for both managing and growing the business.”
HEMA Maschinen und Apparateschutz GmbH is a global manufacturer of protective systems for the world’s machine tool industry, helping companies to produce products in a safer and more reliable industrial environment.
HEMA started out in the late 1970s manufacturing mechanical bellows as protective covers for machine tool guides to cover and protect parts from water and metal fragments during machining. Over the years, HEMA added to its protective and vision system line of products to include aprons, backwall systems, telescopic and rolling covers. As machine tools have become more complex and sophisticated, so has the HEMA product line.
HEMA adopted Microsoft Excel to catalog and manage the growing list of system components. Proliferation of options fueled exponential growth in the number of items within the catalog that sales personnel used to configure custom orders. As the complexity of components and the number of options grew, Excel became increasingly error prone, cumbersome, and time consuming to use.
“Our Excel spreadsheet was huge,” says Thomas Gabriel, Director of Business Development. “It was clear we needed to find a better way.”
“We have a lot of exceptions in quoting. But the rule feature in Experlogix is a good way to guide and lead the user through the process. This led to a significant reduction in the number of failures in creating accurate quotes on the first pass.”
HEMA’s decision to seek a new quoting solution was driven in part by a commitment to upgrade its internal CRM system, a niche product that they had used for years, but that was very limited in functionality and flexibility. HEMA selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM and then searched for Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solutions that worked with Dynamics CRM. After evaluating several solutions, it was clear to HEMA that Experlogix CPQ for Dynamics CRM was the best solution from a user and technical perspective.
“Our legacy CRM system was more like a typing system,” says Gabriel. “The possibility that we could seamlessly create a quote within Dynamics CRM without an apparent change to a different system was impressive.”
The challenge of transferring their massive Excel quoting system to Experlogix appeared daunting.
“The Excel spreadsheet was so big and complex, people said I was crazy to attempt it,” Gabriel says. “We knew we didn’t want to attempt it by ourselves.” Experlogix said it was no problem - they’d take care of it.”
“We were astonished at how quickly Experlogix managed the transfer of data from Excel. They did it not only on time, but on budget,” continues Gabriel. “I’ve been working in IT for years, and I have never seen a vendor achieve that.”
“We were impressed that the Experlogix user interface was so intuitive and easy to use, but there is always the issue of getting people to change - especially in a situation like ours where people had been using Excel for fifteen years,” Gabriel says. “It always takes a lot of effort. You have to convince them to make the change.”
Not so with Experlogix. “It only took our people a couple of weeks to get used to the new system. It was really ideal. That alone is one of the big reasons why we’re so happy about selecting Experlogix,” Gabriel says.
The Experlogix rules engine was another huge plus. “We have a lot of exceptions in quoting. But the rule feature in Experlogix is a good way to guide and lead the user through the process. This led to a significant reduction in the number of failures in creating accurate quotes on the first pass,” he explains. Gabriel says he especially likes the color scheme feature in Experlogix that shows various subsystem components in different colors so that people know what they’re working on during the process. “This is such a small feature, but it really helps to enter in formulas without making mistakes.”
“Improving the time it takes to create a quote, and improving the quality of quotes helps to drive improvement in on-time order delivery to our customers,” Gabriel states. He says that using Experlogix, HEMA has reduced the time to quote by roughly 20 percent.
The German machine and equipment protection manufacturer HEMA was looking to modernize its IT landscape and digitize the company. Particular requirements for a new CRM were to incorporate a configuration environment that would provide seamless integration with other software tools. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the configurator of Experlogix, HEMA has managed to significantly improve data quality, transparency and efficiency, while the error rate is now in the range of about one-tenth of a percent.
HEMA is one of the many hidden champions in the German business world, where small and medium size niche market vendors often are at the forefront of innovation and quality. The company from Seligenstadt in Central Germany has been manufacturing bellows and clamping systems since 1977. More recently, glass systems have become another main pillar of the business. The three product groups generate €40M in revenue for HEMA with major markets being Germany, Japan, China, and India.
"There are few bellows manufacturers worldwide that can offer the same product variety," says Thomas Gabriel, Director Business Development at HEMA. The company's target group are manufacturers of machine tools and production machines. "We need a configurator to manufacture these products," explains Gabriel. "Up to the introduction of the CRM, we used an Excel table for the product configuration, which had become unwieldy." The size of the product configuration table was the cause of serious headaches for HEMA. Few employees in the company could adjust it if necessary.
When the decision was made to renew the IT infrastructure, it was clear that a new and advanced system had to be found. The decision for Microsoft Dynamics CRM was obvious. "Our IT department is relatively small and we chose the Microsoft strategy," says Gabriel. In addition to Dynamics CRM, HEMA also uses SharePoint, Office, Exchange, Windows, and SQL Server. "The components work together very well and increase efficiency in our IT department as they do not have to worry about a slew of completely different systems."
The problem of the Excel table was not resolved yet. "Dynamics CRM is great, but we needed a configurator," says Gabriel. HEMA chose the American IT company Experlogix as the service provider for implementation. Initial concerns regarding language barriers and differences in time zones were resolved quickly. "Of course, Experlogix could not fully align to our Central European Time schedule," says Gabriel. "But they were highly flexible and scheduled lots of what was early morning calls for them" For the training, an employee of Experlogix flew into Germany. The entire project was organized in a professional manner.
"We thought that the Excel file would be the biggest challenge," says Gabriel. "It turned out to be the easiest part." HEMA provided Experlogix with the data and the IT company converted it into the configurator. "Both partners have always operated within the proposed schedule and budget," says Gabriel. "It was a very pleasant project, because it did not have all the great hurdles and problems that we are familiar with from other vendors."
Not only is HEMA looking back at a successful project, but also has achieved several major steps towards digitalization and industry 4.0. Prior to the introduction of CRM, bidding was a complex process with many stakeholders, and error-prone. If a customer requested information on the status of an offer, the right contact person had to be found in the company. The Excel configurator was a separate tool.
The new Experlogix configurator interacts seamlessly with the CRM and transfers the necessary data into the CRM. Offers can be worked on by a team, without the need for a single point of contact, and processes overall are optimized significantly. "We utilize lots of workflows," says Gabriel. With the introduction of the new systems, all processes were completely reviewed, questioned and streamlined. "We were able to improve the way we work significantly."
Industry 4.0 implies a certain degree of automation. "Thanks to the fact that the different systems are interlocking," says Gabriel, "we have professionalized our processes." With the introduction of the CRM, a product registration is now taking place, which creates added value for the products through the IT. If, for example, a customer calls for a product installed in a specific machine or sends a defective product, the CRM can promptly provide information about the product and provide guidance regarding repair or replacement.
"We were able to reduce the error rate to the per-thousand range," says Gabriel. Processing times are shorter, the external presentation is more professional. At the same time, data quality and transparency have increased significantly. This has a positive impact on sales, as the employees now have a much better overview of what happens at the customer and what service cases are open. Via the configurator, even tailored offers can be created on the spot, which was not possible with the Excel sheet.
The system is stable and is very well received by the employees. "Because we are in a conservative sector, we are always cautious and try to include the employees in the processes so not to frustrate them," says Gabriel. "The Microsoft strategy also helps us manage recurring issues in similar product lines." Another boon to efficiency.
"Introducing Dynamics CRM and Experlogix helped us in many aspects. We were able to boost our efficiency and productivity. Processing times are shorter and external presentation is more professional."
Hitachi Construction Machinery (Australia) Pty Ltd (HCA) improves customer service to its heavy equipment distribution network, ships more orders faster, while increasing user adoption of Microsoft Dynamics CRM internally.
Heavy construction machinery, excavators, dump trucks, wheel loaders, and graders are highly complex pieces of equipment, typically custom ordered to fit the needs of each customer. Hitachi, a globally recognized brand, was increasingly challenged to configure orders with their current systems and procedures in place.
HCA operates 25 branch locations across Australia. The company had implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM to better manage its diverse customer base. Microsoft Excel was used at each center to configure and manage quotes and orders. Not only was it extremely difficult to ensure that each instance of Excel contained the most current component parts and correct pricing, but the system was error prone due to heavy dependence on proficiency of workers remembering what parts could - and could not - be configured with each product. In addition, Dynamics CRM and Excel were not integrated, and it was difficult to instill discipline in using Dynamics CRM.
The company made the decision to invest in an automated product configurator that would seamlessly integrate with Dynamics CRM to improve quality assurance of configurations and quoting.
“Experlogix has made it much faster to create valid orders. We’ve seen about a 50% improvement in time-to-quote. And accuracy in quoting has also improved about 50%.”
HCA investigated four product configurators before selecting Experlogix CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote). “Experlogix fit our business needs, and it integrated seamlessly with Dynamics CRM,” says Craig Walsh, CRM Administrator. “Integration with Dynamics CRM was huge. It meant that sales representatives couldn’t randomly generate a quote outside of Dynamics CRM - and that the customer had to be in the CRM database.”
Experlogix’s rules engine was another significant benefit. The rules engine permits only valid order configurations. “Experlogix prevents people from making mistakes,” Walsh says. “It helps guide them to the right answer.”
Sales reps configuring orders start in Dynamics CRM. “They open up a new sales opportunity with a specific customer, and then hit the Experlogix button, which brings up a menu of all the product series. All the information you need - all options and pricing - is right there,” Walsh states.
One of the big benefits in the implementation of Experlogix was a huge increase of Dynamics CRM usage across all seven divisions of the company. “With an integrated CRM/CPQ environment, there’s so much information available at your fingertips and everyone began to see the value in it,” says Walsh.
Experlogix has also had a significant impact on time-to-quote, which greatly reduces time-to-market of assemble-to-order products. “Experlogix has made it much faster to create valid orders,” he says. “We’ve seen about a 50% improvement in time-to-quote, and accuracy in quoting has also improved about 50%.”
Experlogix also fits neatly into HCA's ISO9001 environment to ensure document versions are controlled. The end benefit and result ensures equipment orders are supplied correctly to the customer.
As an Experlogix Administrator, Walsh states that it is easy to create new configuration pages for new products, or new divisions. “We recently bought a company called Wenco, a Canadian company that provides Fleet Management systems. They’re very different from what we do, but I can design a new landing page for that team to use in quoting - and it’ll all be within the same Experlogix system.”
Accurate quoting with Experlogix in Dynamics CRM affords more accurate forecasting of inventory requirements. “It’s easy to look at how many quotes we have, how many machines we’ve sold, and then forecast what the company anticipates selling going forward,” says Walsh.
Walsh’s job has been made easier, as well, with the quality of service that he’s received from the Experlogix support team. “Experlogix has the best customer service from a vendor that I’ve ever experienced,” he says. “They’re extremely responsive. If you have a problem, they pull out all the stops. When I call, if the people I’m talking to don’t know the answer, they pull others into the call to resolve the issue.”
“You need to have reliable support,” he says. “In past dealings with other vendors, they typically hand you a manual and you’re on your own. Experlogix makes sure that the system is working the way you need it to before they let you go.”
The Experlogix Configurator supports hundreds of Husky users across the globe, providing consistent, accurate quote-to-cash processes every time, providing management reliable forecasts.
Founded in 1953 in a Toronto garage, Husky started out as a small machine shop. It quickly found its niche specializing in the making of quality injection molds for thin wall plastic containers. Husky Injection Molding Systems is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of injection molding equipment to the plastics industry with more than forty service and sales offices supporting customers in more than 100 countries.
As the company expanded to include five major business units with manufacturing plants in Canada, the United States, Luxemburg, and China, so did the complexity and demands of its quote/order processes. By 2010, Husky personnel were using seven different standalone systems to build customer quotes for its broad array of products.
“A quote for a new system typically include machine, molds, axillaries, startup services, freight and then there are options, specials and spares totaling up to 200 products per one quote,” says Sergiy Fomenko, Sales Effectiveness Project Manager.
“Getting one unified quote was hard because the outputs were different for all seven systems,” says Terry Solomon, Sales Support Manager. “Keeping price and product data current was a major challenge.” The cumbersome process caused errors and delayed delivery of quotes to customers.
Successfully pushing price quotes to the field was an onerous task. “It involved coordinating teams in over 100 countries worldwide,” says Fomenko. “Once a quote is accepted by a customer, it’s too late to update to the most current pricing.”
The process was cumbersome and riddled with errors which delayed deliveries of customer quotes. And corporate management had no visibility to global quoting in terms of how many quotes had been made, and how many were accepted.
“The system is very flexible, easy to use, and reliable for our global sales teams - and has already returned more than a 100 percent return on investment.”
With the release of Windows 7, the company lost support – and essentially access – to massive amounts of data in two of its core systems: Access and Microsoft Excel. Management decided it was time to move to a new, totally integrated, technology platform. The platform was to be Microsoft based, critically relying on Share Point, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
After an intensive review of several configurator vendors, Husky selected Experlogix to a critical component of its new global pricing technology platform. The configurator is model-based with rules, component definitions, and pricing centrally maintained. User access is available directly within Dynamics CRM to everyone across the company’s extended global network.
“Experlogix is quite flexible and user friendly,” Solomon says. “There are many ways to go about consolidating information you need, and the speed and ease of that, and the confidence it provides management is a significant improvement over what we had before.” Quotes and reports can be built by multiple methods or by using a combination of functions, including formulas, tables, pricing properties, and more.
“Overall, Experlogix personnel were very supportive, helping us through the initial launch,” says Fomenko. “The lead Experlogix repimplementation engineer was extremely knowledgeable about all business requirements, and how the technology could be used to achieve what we needed.”
One of the biggest benefits to date is the visibility provided to senior management to the whole quote and order process. And the confidence they have that all quote information is consistent and accurate and universally applied.
“The system is also very flexible, easy to use, and reliable for our global sales teams,” says Fomenko. He states that the comprehensive new pricing platform has already returned more than 100 percent ROI.
The number of people using the system has more than doubled, touching the jobs of over 1,000 individuals as more departments have been drawn to use it, Including people in sales, sales support, marketing communications, marketing products, operations/manufacturing, material planning, services and logistics teams.
Husky is looking to improve forecasts that will lead to shorter lead times and smaller inventory costs – all which will contribute to its greater competitiveness, and provide improved benefits to its customers.
“Now that the implementation has been completed, the company is planning how to gain greater return from the solution. We are already thinking about how to enhance sales forecast accuracy, order entry validity, material planning and warehouse management, logistics and incoterms, custom products quotes, product specification forms and checklists," he says. "More accurate and centrally controlled quote data saves many thousands of dollars of unnecessary expenses, increases company revenue and provides greater business intelligence to make more informed decisions."
INNOTEX manufactures tailored fire-fighting “turnout” gear for some of the largest fire departments in the world. Suits, gloves and hoods are fitted to each individual firefighter’s measurements to ensure easy movement and flawless protection – when it counts the most.
In the early 2000’s, INNOTEX made a decision to consolidate product lines and focus exclusively on firefighting turnout gear. An “off-the-rack” approach would never ensure complete protection, so each suit for every fire department crewmember had to be tailored to the individual to ensure critical ease-of-movement in life threatening situations.
“Firefighting suits are very complicated,” says Rene-Frederic Roy, Financial Director for the Richmond, Quebec manufacturer. “There are thousands of options that can be considered.”
At the same time, there has to be a high level of quality assurance in the suit design – ensuring that all options mesh seamlessly. INNOTEX’s quote/order process had been dependent on Excel spreadsheets. Dealer requests for quotes were placed by phone, then faxed back for confirmation. When orders were finalized, spreadsheet-based orders were so large that they had to be mailed for confirmation. If options were added or deleted, it required mailing a new spreadsheet.
INNOTEX needed an easier quote-and-order process. It also required a solution that would tightly integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP. The driving factor in the three product implementation was the product configurator. This was to ensure intuitive ease-of-use so dealers could configure their own orders. But also to guarantee smooth, flawless process and data flow between systems to eliminate duplicate data entry.
“Experlogix is easy and fast – which the dealers really like. It also enables us to internally focus more on providing quality customer service.”
After carefully reviewing eight solutions, the Experlogix Configurator was the decisive choice for INNOTEX based on ease-of-use, deep Dynamics integration and strong portal capabilities.“We were really impressed with how easy it was to select product features and options and also with the caliber Experlogix team,” says Roy. “During the implementation and training phase, they were always there when I needed them – including the company president. It was clear that we were important to them.”
“As a small company with about 120 employees,” Roy says, “we have limited resources with no dedicated IT staff, so we needed an easy-to-use tool that could be maintained by business users. Experlogix is so easy that I can manage it myself.”
Experlogix is so intuitive that dealers are increasingly configuring their own quotes and orders. Experlogix has a user-friendly web portal where dealers can sit with customers and work up complicated quotes and orders in as little as fifteen to twenty minutes. There’s no faxing or mailing, no delay in deleting or selecting additional options. “Experlogix is easy and fast – which the dealers really like,” says Roy. “It also enables us to internally focus more on providing quality customer service.”
Experlogix is seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and with Dynamics GP ERP system. Orders generated by Experlogix flow flawlessly into CRM and then Dynamics GP, generating the “cutting sheet,” or manufacturing order, and routings that go to the floor to start production.
The Experlogix rules-driven system is also foolproof. It provides alerts if selected options create a design or production issue that compromises the integrity of the gear. “Experlogix also enables us to post photos of various options. That was never possible before,” Roy states.
Experlogix ensures customers receive their orders without errors or unnecessary delays. The fact that Experlogix is tightly integrated with Dynamics GP eliminated the need for a separate, stand-alone system for generating manufacturing orders, again providing gains in accuracy and speed in not having to rekey information.
“The fact that Experlogix is integrated with CRM is another benefit,” he says. “Now we know how many quotes we’ve done, which helps us anticipate the work load on the floor.” Spreadsheets never provided that kind of visibility. “We now see trends and have a clear view of the number of quotes done daily, weekly, and monthly.”
Roy likened the company’s decision to eliminate other product lines to focus solely on firefighting gear as “giving the company bigger shoulders.” It helped spark consistent double-digit growth year-over-year in business and employees. Experlogix has likewise further broadened the company’s shoulders, enabling it to ably manage the growth while also providing a solid foundation for continued global growth into the future.
Instant InfoSystems cites a policy of “absolute customer commitment” as the cornerstone of their success.
Proposal response time and accuracy were areas that Instant InfoSystems identified to improve for their clients. Previously, sales reps used spreadsheets to calculate the prices and costs of products and services. Once figures were totaled, the rep manually enter the calculated prices into Microsoft CRM. The procedure averaged 30 minutes or more and was open to human error. “The whole process was very manual and susceptible to mistakes” says Dan Nishita, IT Administrator.
“Of the vendors we considered, only Experlogix could provide the flexibility and functionality we needed - along with the deep integration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.”
“We needed a configurator that populated Microsoft CRM with prices and costs based on predefined rules and formulas,” continues Nishita. “Also, it had to enable our sales team to create quotes efficiently and accurately. Of the configurators we considered, only Experlogix could provide the flexibility and functionality we needed, along with deep integration to Microsoft CRM.”
Instant InfoSystems took their complicated formulas and a multitude of proposal scenarios, and easily transferred them into Experlogix’s Formula and Rule Designer. According to Nishita, “Experlogix accommodated everything we threw at it - including real-time tax calculations from a web-based provider.”
Experlogix now enables Instant InfoSystems to extend their responsive service to their sales staff. By increasing quote accuracy to 100% and reducing manual effort, Instant Info-Systems creates their complex product and service proposals in just five minutes - saving more than 25 minutes per quote.
As an organization, the hand-off of project orders from sales to operations was based on disparate processes, driven by individual preferences, with limited visibility into any data about what they were quoting. The “controlling” document was an uncontrolled Excel file called a JCS or Job Control Sheet. The application of the JCS was inconsistent across regions and salespeople.
Managing the information around these large orders was problematic and both time and resource intensive. The new system would make it more streamlined for the organization to function as a single entity working towards the same goals, in a consistent manner.
Another major goal, which is being more emphatically requested by their manufacturers, is to gain clear visibility into forecasts by knowing exactly what is being quoted and understanding the exact status of each and every order in the sales cycle.
Overall, JMP was striving to be a more data-centric organization that could be more responsive to their customers, with the goal of being able to continue to grow, either by adding more products and/or more territory.
In the end, JMP really wanted to validate that their assumptions about how and why and when they were successful. They believed that by creating more consistency and efficiency, they could dramatically improve their performance and improve on all levels of sales.
Previously, the only aspect of a “business system” that JMP had was on the ERP side. The legacy on-premises Microsoft Dynamics ERP instance they had was coming to the end of its support. They considered simply updating ERP, but during the evaluation process realized that there was much more to be gained by also implementing a full CRM solution.
As they modified their approach to include the sales side of the organization, it became quickly evident that one of the most critical aspects of the new Enterprise Solution would be the ability to quote. JMP turned to Experlogix and engaged in a Proof-of-Concept, which clearly demonstrated the power of CPQ, and knew it would become an important element in their new processes.
JMP subsequently embarked on a digital transformation built on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 platform, leveraging Customer Engagement, Field Service, Finance & Operations, Power Automate, Power Apps and Power BI technologies. Along with Experlogix as their CPQ solution tightly integrated with Microsoft Dynamics.
The new solution is designed for the following:
As a result, there has been a major impact on all salespeople - inside and outside - and across the organization. Our increased efficiency has led to more quotes with less errors. Our goal is to increase each salesperson’s annual sales revenue by over $200,000. Now, with Experlogix CPQ in place, we are well on our way to achieving that goal.
Also, it has started to affect the workflow and there is now a push in two of their four regions for some work to be more centralized. There are technical sales engineers that have been able to fully embrace the CPQ solution within CE and are now so much more efficient that they are capable of handling quotes for multiple offices.
The JMP team is actively engaged in specifying environmentally efficient and cost-effective solutions for HVAC and plumbing projects. Experlogix CPQ helps them improve their bottom line, increase customer satisfaction and generate real ROI through multiple benefits that only Experlogix can bring to their business.
The largest roofing contractor in Florida's Collier County, Kelly Roofing is a second-generation, family-owned business. Two years ago, the company began its digital transformation with Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and it won the Modern Small or Medium Business category of Microsoft's 2015 Visionary Award. Since then, the company continues to build its competitive advantage with the adoption of Dynamics 365 for Financials.
Every geographic region has its challenges, but if you're a builder or property owner, Florida presents a few extra quirks. In addition to withstanding the rigors of rain, heat, and humidity, buildings are often in the path of hurricane-force winds. In southwest Florida, Kelly Roofing has been protecting people from the element for over three decades.
A small, family-owned business, Kelly Roofing draws on more than 30 years of local experience, extensive knowledge of construction techniques and materials, and something else you might not expect. "When you think of a roofing company, you don't usually think of a business that might be tech-savvy," says Ken Kelly, President of Kelly Roofing. "We take advantage of technology because it gives us a competitive edge in the marketplace. We value human intelligence more, but we use technology as an accelerator and a way to ensure processes."
In 2015, the company adopted Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, now part of Dynamics 365. The cloud apps gave Kelly Roofing the platform it needed to centralize customer information and automate as many tasks as possible. The adoption paid off, helping the company increase per-employee revenue from US$75,000 to $160,000. Over the next two years, Kelly Roofing expanded its cloud consumption and even created an app hosted on Microsoft Azure that gauges moisture levels in roofs. "Office 365 was our first experience in the cloud, and it enabled us to have everything that Office provides, along with email, as a managed service. Microsoft managing all that for us has taken away the IT burden and given us virtually 100 percent uptime."
Within two years, Kelly Roofing had transformed business operations. "We're using what's now Dynamics 365 for Financials to not only acquire customers, but to manage the entire production process as well, including field and project service," says Kelly. "And we're connected to Internet of Things services and doing really cool projects with Azure."
But when business operations reached what Kelly calls the "third phase," or financial processes, the company lost momentum. Kelly Roofing was using Intuit QuickBooks, which lacked the integration and automated workflows the company had otherwise become accustomed to. "We were taking all these great steps forward, almost to the level of sprinting through our operations, and then we got to financials and just fell," Kelly recalls. "It really hurt our organization, because we couldn't scale our financial processes fast enough to keep up with business growth. We had to hire more people to keep up with the financial side of things, and we had a piece of software that didn't talk to anything else and required us to set up and manage a whole new silo of information."
The lack of insight was particularly frustrating to Kelly, who likened making business decisions to "driving a car while looking in the rearview mirror." So when he learned that Dynamics 365 for Financials would be available, he didn't hesitate to jump on board. "We went from QuickBooks Enterprise, which had been a 25-year commitment, to Dynamics 365 for Financials in 30 days," says Kelly. "The Dynamics team just made it so easy."
Now, Kelly finally has the comprehensive insight he needs to drive business forward. "With Dynamics 365 for Financials, we've been able to see in real time how the business is performing," he says. "We can see real-time job costing and invoicing, see whether we're overcharged, and compare the numbers to our production schedule."
Kelly takes advantage of multiple capabilities to gain insight, including the Dimensions feature in Dynamics 365 for Financials. Dimensions are attributes and values that categorize entries for easier tracking and analysis. For example, Kelly can set up separate dimensions for zip codes, employees, or assets such as vehicles. "With Dynamics 365 for Financials. I can really drill down into data in ways that I never could before," says Kelly. "Now, we have these awesome metrics that show us how we're performing companywide, and we can leverage that information to improve the organization. We can decide where we need to invest more, whether it's training, marketing, or something else."
It should surprise no one to hear that Kelly Roofing is already expanding the platform's capabilities. Using the ChargeLogic feature in Dynamics 365 for Financials, the company has enabled customers to make payments directly from emails or texts. Customer records are automatically updated, eliminating the need for manual data entry. Kelly Roofing has also started using Dynamics 365 for Field Services, which will optimize the company's ability to meet service level agreements by optimizing routing and scheduling. Working more efficiently is a necessity in an industry experiencing a severe labor shortage, and it also keeps customers happy. "If I make a promise to a customer that we'll be there on Tuesday, I can ensure that our team is going to deliver," says Kelly. "With Dynamics 365, if someone can't work, somebody else will automatically be notified. It's that consistency that separates us from everyone else."
Other Kelly Roofing initiatives include visualizing data with Microsoft Power BI, and new IoT projects. With the right technology in place, this small, family-owned business shows no sign of slowing down in a highly competitive industry. "This whole concept of democratizing software with offerings like Dynamics 365 has helped us out quite a bit," concludes Kelly. "It's fantastic that Microsoft has enabled us to take advantage of these great pieces of technology. It's really changing lives."
Experlogix CPQ Empowers Kwik Lok Reps to Configure Orders Fast and Ensure Manufacturing Accuracy
Kwik Lok was in the midst of a business transformation with new leadership, new business requirements, and new federal food safety laws being mandated. As a result, a more robust business software system was needed that could provide standardization across all of their manufacturing plants.
Kwik Lok began implementing Microsoft Dynamics NAV as their core ERP system, and quickly realized how complex their Item catalog was and the potential of needing to include hundreds of thousands of possible combinations. This would make the system unwieldy for both the sales staff to use and for the IT department to maintain. It would also present a significant hinderance to any future planned e-commerce initiatives that would enable customers place orders online.
"All of this would lead to a very complex item catalog and difficulty for customer service in selecting all the correct options for the customer," said Paul Gill, Kwik Lok IT Project Manager. "We needed a simpler solution and user interface. We were faced with either building hundreds of thousands of items with only small variations in the catalog, or building just a few hundred generic (or base) items and then using a configurator to build out the details specific to the order."
Each Lok (bag enclosure) produced can come in a variety of shapes, thicknesses, sizes, colors, opening (the hole in the middle). Kwik Lok’s bag closing machines are produced in a variety of automatic, semi-automatic, and manual versions with different parts or modules to accommodate the various Lok designs. They can also be configured with several models of printers, different electrical systems, and designed to attach to various industry conveyor systems.
"Experlogix CPQ blew away the other two competitors during the demos. And we were immediately impressed at the professionalism of the Experlogix team members and the flexibility that Experlogix CPQ offered."
Microsoft Dynamics NAV satisfied most of the core ERP functions Kwik Lok was looking for, including the ability to have greater transparency and enhanced reporting of accounting transactions, order processing, product manufacturing, and general productivity metrics. However it could not accommodate all the custom quote and order logic needed with so much variation in their product catalog.
"We saw demos of CPQ systems from 3 different companies. We were immediately impressed at the professionalism of the Experlogix team members and the flexibility that Experlogix CPQ offered as a product," according to Mr. Gill. "Experlogix CPQ blew away the other two competitors during the demos. Additionally, our IT Staff, who would be tasked with maintaining the system, felt that they could do much more with Experlogix categories, rules, formulas, and many other product features compared to what the other vendors were offering."
Because the Dynamics NAV implementation was on such an aggressive implementation schedule and the need for a CPQ solution wasn’t part of the initial scope, Kwik Lok had the added constraint to get the CPQ capability up and running quickly. "We were really impressed at the consulting and training provided by the Experlogix staff," said Mr. Gill. "They responded immediately to our request and worked with us over a two week period to rapidly build out proof of concepts, start building the framework for our configurator, and get us trained at the same time. Once the framework was in place and our IT staff was trained, we were able finish building out the detailed categories and logic on our own, and make it a fully functional system."
Since going live, Kwik Lok has seen significant time savings in several areas of the business with the combined Experlogix CPQ and Dynamics NAV system. "Today, our sales people are able to quickly and accurately configure the needed options for our customer orders," said Mr. Gill. "rather than searching through a large catalog with items that are very similar with only small variations. We’re now able to respond faster to customer demand, and ensure the configured products can be manufactured exactly as they were sold."
"Experlogix gives Kwik Lok the power to create configured orders that look professional and provide an ordering experience for sales that assures they are not making mistakes."
"In addition, we’re also saving a lot of time in our ongoing item catalog maintenance by only needing to maintain a few hundred generic (base) items," said Mr. Gill. "As new product options or variations are added we now only have to add new logic in the Experlogix CPQ Design Center instead of needing to maintain thousands of individual items to the Dynamics NAV catalog. Adding new options or product variations can be done very quickly, since there is no programming, so we can roll out new products faster."
Lexmark customers are about to experience a revolution in printing thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). With the introduction of its latest service offering, Lexmark Cloud Print Infrastructure as a Service (CPI), businesses no longer must manage any aspect of an onsite print infrastructure. Instead, Lexmark installs its own IoTenabled devices and activates smart services, creating an always-on print environment. Print services, queue management, and user management all occur in the company’s cloud services environment. Customers simply buy reliable, scalable printing services from Lexmark and pay via flexible subscription models.
This is a fascinating time to be talking about the printer industry. It’s no surprise that the digitization of business contributed to a decline in traditional printing. However, most people don’t know that in the last 10 years, Lexmark reinvented itself as a tech-enabled company to achieve what we call our “digital thread strategy.” Even back then, we saw the printer less as a standalone device and more of an Internet of Things (IoT)–enabled component of business. Today, our average printer is equipped with more than 120 sensors dedicated to collecting data that we use to feed our R&D function and to enhance customer service. All this is stored in a single globally managed print services platform that services millions of printing devices across 170 countries/regions.
But as customers’ expectations for capability and service at the individual printer level—what I call “mass customization”—accelerates, Lexmark must be ready with innovative new services that take advantage of the scale and AI of cloud computing. Part of my role as CIO is to make sure that Lexmark remains ahead of industry trends.
To that end, we’re transforming our work environment so that employees can achieve the level of productivity needed to deliver the innovative services our customers require. Microsoft offers a complete interoperable suite of cloud services that now forms the foundation for our digital transformation story. We had come a long way toward IoT-enabling our business, but the ability to leverage the Microsoft cloud platform means we can deploy industry-leading offers that take the IoT capabilities of our managed service platform to the next level. We’re using everything from Microsoft Azure to Microsoft 365 to Microsoft Dynamics 365.
As we expand our existing IoT expertise and drive the printer industry into the digital age, we’re innovating and using the Microsoft cloud platform to solve our customers’ problems in amazing new ways. Our Connected Field Service takes data from our Lexmark IoT Hub, augmented by Azure Machine Learning, and feeds information into Dynamics 365, so we can make predictive diagnostics for individual machines and alert service technicians to be ready. We just launched Lexmark Cloud Print Infrastructure as a Service, which also works off the Microsoft cloud platform. This provides access to a modern, secure cloud-based print environment via a subscription service. Customers pay only for print capacity, rather than owning and managing their printers.
A year ago, we had no relationship with Microsoft. We used other providers for email, teleconferencing, collaboration, security, digital workplace, customer relationship management, and business intelligence. We were looking at the future of connected print service when our architecture team laid out the value of the Microsoft cloud ecosystem. It was easy to see the rationale of moving away from a best-in-class approach to technology.
A key component of our transformation plays out in the workplace, where we use Microsoft 365 to enable highly secure global collaboration at an unprecedented level. Across the business, we use Microsoft Teams for morning checkpoints, video calls, documentation authoring, file sharing, and persistent chat. Ubiquitous and contextual collaboration drives organizational agility and accelerates the business. It was a major driver behind adopting Teams and the move to Microsoft.
Empowering employees fosters innovation, and here, the digital transformation at Lexmark delivers another benefit. Tools like Teams contribute to a culture of empowerment, where employees don’t have to rely on IT to start the next great project or to work together on the next innovation for Lexmark customers. With these products and services being designed to take advantage of Azure and Dynamics 365 for Sales, it’s easy to see the value of an end-to-end Microsoft cloud computing platform.
Under our Global Optimization 365 (GO365) program, we completely retooled the business in less than a year, retiring 13 legacy solutions. Thanks to cloud computing, we’ve reduced our IT spend year over year by 25 percent, and our partnership with Microsoft heavily enabled that. As we take advantage of the integrated security tools that are built into the Microsoft cloud platform, we’re seeing alerts and events communicated behind the scenes, in a consistent way, providing insights into the threat landscape and helping meet our security requirements—with less effort from IT. Moving to the Microsoft cloud platform, we doubled our security operations capacity and performance in just one year based on the number and quality of the feeds coming into our security information and event management solution and the ability of our security operations team to clear incidents. And all the while, we continue to refine our competitive advantage: that idea of mass customization, where we can deliver IoT-enabled printing services to customers at a price point that we don’t think anybody else can touch.
As we build on the promise of the cloud in the world of printers, we’re looking forward to working with Microsoft all the way.
Libbey Inc., one of the world's top tableware providers, knew it couldn't face the future with 20-year-old ERP systems that couldn't talk to each other. So Libbey talked with Microsoft. Together, they've planned and begun to implement a digital transformation and cloud migration that will help the 200-year-old company compete in new ways.
Its quintet of 20-year-old ERP systems couldn't keep up with the demands of the increasingly important e-commerce channel. And that wasn't all. Global master data, financials, supply chain, sales and marketing—all of these also needed major overhauls if Libbey was to maintain and expand its market leadership in the face of born-in-the-cloud competitors seemingly better positioned for the future.
"What we needed was far more than just a modern ERP system," says James Burmeister, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Libbey Inc. "For the global agility we wanted, we would have to digitally transform the company and lift our entire operation into the cloud. After understanding the breadth of our challenge, we knew we needed an equally broad partner. That's why we chose Microsoft."
Burmeister and his colleagues selected Microsoft for its extensive three-cloud platform including Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure, which provides office productivity, business productivity, and cloud computing. They liked the technologies' focus on security, business intelligence, and a consistent user experience across office and business apps. In addition, they envisioned relying on the integration of technologies to digitally transform the global business quickly with minimal disruption to the business. Another big plus: the breadth and depth of expertise, strategic guidance, and support that Microsoft Services brought to the table.
"We're a global company and we wanted a global partner that could be with us, on the ground, anywhere and anytime we wanted their engagement," says Dave Anderson, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Libbey Inc. "More than that, Microsoft brings the exact industry expertise we need, from how to exploit the data we collect on the shop floor to how to manage our master data in the cloud."
Microsoft Services consultants worked with Libbey to plan its multiphased digital business transformation and migration to the cloud. "We were looking at an extensive journey that we'd never taken before," says Burmeister. "Microsoft Services worked with our executive team to help us understand how to achieve the maximum business value. They helped us plan that journey in the phases that made the most sense for our unique situation."
Libbey and Microsoft Services implemented phase one, the e-commerce platform, in early 2019, based on the sales-orderto- cash processes in Dynamics 365. Phase two will follow with global ERP and CRM also based on Dynamics 365, and phase three will digitize operations in Azure and implement artificial intelligence and machine learning services.
Part of what the two companies are building together won't show up on any technology roadmap, but it may be the most important of all: a Center of Excellence (CoE) with strategists, architects, and global program managers from the two companies. The CoE guides ongoing strategy development as well as deployment plans and implementation across the globe. It also provides training and serves as the repository for Libbey's rapidly growing digital knowledge.
Lifestyle Hearing operates hearing loss clinics throughout North America, helping to identify hearing deficiencies and recommend the right type of hearing aid solution for consumers.
Lifestyle Hearing approaches the hearing loss market from two distinct channels: first as a business-to-consumer (B2C) retailer with multiple clinic locations providing hearing aid products and services directly to consumers, and secondarily as a business-to-business (B2B) services company supporting a network of health care clinics that have a focus on hearing loss treatment. With more than 140 audiology network clinic members throughout North America, Lifestyle Hearing’s B2B and B2C businesses have seen tremendous growth. Success in the market has added business complexities for Lifestyle Hearing.
Previously, the typical customer experience was to come into a clinic for a hearing evaluation and get their hearing tested. A technician would document the results, and then work to propose an appropriate solution, resulting in a quote or an order from Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This process was time consuming and cumbersome, leading to an excessive customer wait time.
“The complexity of our quotes and orders is based primarily around our pricing,” says Franco Butera, Director of IT for North America at Lifestyle Hearing. “In addition to the product types, there can be multiple payers and insurers, government agencies, and other variables that factor into the customer price. All pricing information was stored in a remote Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP system and had to be synchronized with Dynamics CRM. When the parameters were entered into our customize quoting system it could take 5 minutes or longer to get a price. Customer service suffered while the customer waited for a quote.”
Even with the customized quoting system’s ability to capture many of the pricing variables, there were still many pricing parameters that were not able to be modeled in the old system. “Historically, we had to train the clinic staff on the how the insurance and other third party payers systems worked and essentially educate them on the insurance business model and the associated pricing matrices,” says Butera.
“One of the best aspects of our decision to go with Experlogix has been the team of people. They are one of the best vendors I’ve ever worked with.”
“We were expended a considerable amount of time in our technician training efforts with the old system,” continues Butera. “It could take several weeks to ensure the new employee memorized the pricing policies and was pricing quotes correctly. With Experlogix CPQ, training on the insurance industry and the pricing matrices has been completely eliminated. No more guessing or worrying if quotes were being priced correctly. All of those complexities were taken out of the process and are now modeled in Experlogix.”
Today, all clinic information is being captured in Dynamics CRM, including appointment scheduling, the documentation of the examination and tracking of the testing results, and ultimately the configuration and generation of a quote when needed. ”With Experlogix you can just move right to the next step in completing the sale, it’s just fill in the Quote - click - Order - click - Invoice - click- and the customer is on their way,” says Butera.
“Training new staff is very easy today, it’s just a matter of teaching them how to use Dynamics CRM. All of the complexities are handled for them by Experlogix. They no longer need to know how the pricing works. We can just add a new insurance payer and Experlogix will calculate the right price,” says Butera.
Although Dynamics NAV is still used to store the base product information, clinics are no longer dependent on Dynamics NAV connectivity for the generation of a quote. All information can be processed directly out of Dynamics CRM and Experlogix. The customer no longer experiences the long delay to find out the price of a hearing aid. Quotes are generated instantaneously.
“One of the best aspects of our decision to go with Experlogix has been the team of people. They are one of the best vendors I’ve ever worked with,” says Butera. “Everyone at Experlogix has been great. They listen, they respond quickly to our requests, and they are always available. We’re in a business where everything is constantly changing and always under a very tight timeline, and they make sure they conform to our schedule and our needs.”
“Experlogix CPQ is a system that is easy for us to maintain ourselves,” continues Butera. “Experlogix is designed so we are able to give users access only to the specific areas of the system needed for maintaining the pricing. Previously we were forced to give users access to the entire Dynamics NAV system.”
”We believe our Dynamics CRM/Experlogix CPQ solution will give us a significant competitive advantage in the market,” says Butera. “We now have a unique and powerful system that works efficiently with all insurers and payers, and improves the customer experience and transaction speed at the point of sale. We plan to offer a turnkey quoting and order processing solution to our members that is like no other system in our market, and that is easy to use and maintain without the usual high costs associated with a custom system.”
Malibu Boats is the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational watersports towboats with more than 450 employees and manufacturing facilities in California, Tennessee and Australia.
Every Malibu Boat is uniquely configured based on customer specific preferences. They have to get the details right the first time or face delays, rework and ultimately, an unhappy customer. The company has 16 base models in its two model lines and no two boats come off the production line the same.
“We cater to the customer,” says Greg Casteel, Senior Business Systems and Process Analyst. “We’re known for the quality of our relationships with our customers and our dealers – and the fact that customers always get the boats customized the way they want them.”
Meeting that commitment was a challenge. Malibu Boats relies on its extensive dealer network to promote and sell its high-end line of customized boats. But previously, Malibu didn’t make it easy for dealers to configure and place orders via its online portal. Dealers had to sign on to two different systems to order models in Malibu’s two different product lines. This, plus a lack of any rules-based system intelligence, increased the potential for errors. As in any business, errors can increase costs and delay deliveries.
Compounding the problem, the boat builder had a standalone order entry system, “but all it did was track orders,” says Casteel. “It produced a piece of paper with specs for a boat, but we then had to go into our Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP system and manually create a manufacturing order, the bills-of-materials, and pick list.”
“Our wake-board boat line, for example, is family oriented. The smallest carries 10 to 12 people,” Casteel says. “You can take everybody up to the lake for the weekend. But when ordering, you can’t order two engines for this line. And if you order a shower, you have to have an engine that is compatible.”
“Our dealers could be sitting on the showroom floor with a laptop, or at a boat show with a tablet and configure a complex order with Experlogix CPQ.”
Malibu Boats began looking for a better solution in early 2013. After a thorough evaluation of leading CPQ solutions, they chose Experlogix CPQ. Right from the start, Experlogix resolved a critical issue that was the cause of considerable problems: it integrated seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and through CRM, with Microsoft Dynamics GP. “It connects everything together,” he says. “Configuring an order automatically creates a manufacturing order, bills-of-materials, and the pick list. There’s no opportunity for errors.”
Another major problem area was also eliminated. Experlogix CPQ’s powerful, flexible rules engine makes it possible to create rules that will only permit a configuration where everything works faultlessly together. This helps accurately guide dealers using the online portal to get the order right – the first time. This resulted in eliminating rework from misaligned boat models and options, which removed delays in getting orders to their dealers – and dealers getting the boats to their customers.
Experlogix CPQ also removed the need for two separate order entry systems – one for each major product line. The system handles both lines from a single sign on, eliminating the need for dealers to manually navigate between two systems to place orders.
Casteel maintains three different Experlogix environments. One is for development, one for test, and one for production. Experlogix CPQ was first set up in the development environment before being released to test, where he could conduct dealer training. System documentation was available via the customer portal, along with FAQs. Dealers were then allowed to “play around” with the system themselves, creating orders, getting used to the new system before the system went live.
“It sounds minor, but one of the biggest benefits of the system was that dealers could access Experlogix CPQ using any browser,” Casteel says. “They could be sitting on the showroom floor with a laptop, or at a boat show with a tablet and configure an order. That was not the case with the previous system – but in the real world, that flexibility is huge,” he says.
The Experlogix solution also easily mastered the complexity of configuring highly intricate orders. “The complexity of our boats changes from model to model – and order to order,” he says. “The Experlogix rules engine makes it possible to create rules where only permissible order configurations can be developed. And I can write a rule once, and apply it to as many other models as necessary. I don’t have touch the code. All I need to do is check a box.”
Experlogix CPQ is winning praise from dealers. “We have dealers with all levels of computer skills in their operations. Some are still running their businesses with pencil and paper. But everyone likes Experlogix because it so greatly simplifies things. The rules take care of so much – where our dealers no longer have to remember everything. Experlogix is extremely user friendly – and it takes the complexity out of configuring orders for our production lines.”
Martin Door Manufacturing specializes in offering the largest variety of garage door options in their industry, and ships within 48 hours, no exceptions.
Martin Door implemented the Experlogix Configurator to ensure complete order accuracy, coordinate construction, labor and materials routings, and achieve a 99.9% on-time shipping record. “Every single door produced is now configured,” says chief engineer Robert Scott, Martin Door. “In fact, the only possible way to facilitate accurate order entry and the coordination of construction, labor and materials is to have a powerful product configurator.
"The service from day one working with Experlogix has been excellent, far beyond expectations"
After researching several possible configurator solutions, Scott selected Experlogix due to its unique ability to mix rules, tables, formulas, lists, options and categories as needed to create an order entry interface, consume materials and labor, and create information for shop floor travelers and reports. The most significant improvements since going live are the speed at which the company can configure work instructions, materials and labor allocations, and most importantly, configured door engineering.
According to Scott, “We have been using the Experlogix Configurator for several years now. Due to its abilities, we continually integrate it more and more into our systems and procedures. It has become the "brains" of our company."
MCFA is the leading manufacturer of three distinct brands: Mitsubishi and CAT forklift trucks and Jungheinrich warehouse products, distributing through a vast dealer network throughout North and South America.
Forklifts are one of the most highly customized products serving the manufacturing and distribution industries. Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc. (MCFA) offers numerous product families across three brands: Mitsubishi forklift trucks, Cat® lift trucks, and Jungheinrich®. Within families – each with as many as 10 different models - there is always a need to specially configure orders to address unique customer needs, typically involving hundreds of feature and function decisions.
MCFA previously handled order entry using a product configurator embedded in its legacy ERP system. The legacy ERP configurator required numerous manual steps that took an inordinate amount of time - greatly escalating the period required to ensure a configuration was accurate.
“It took a lot of time to do things that shouldn’t have been difficult,” says Jose Clark, Manager of Business Analytics at MCFA. “Adding part numbers, pricing, and setting-up product configurations on all products had to be done manually. There was no easy way to copy and modify an existing configuration. We were forced to start from scratch every time,” he says. “Changing a part number or a rule took time. Even adding a single new option to a category took weeks.”
“Day-to-day, all those things were very frustrating from a business perspective,” continues Clark.” Senior management could not understand why it took so long to configure an order.”
The challenge became dramatically more complicated in 2010 when MCFA signed an agreement with Jungheinrich AG, the European leader in electric-power warehouse material handling systems, to add its products to the company portfolio. That partnership nearly doubled the number of products MCFA offered to its dealer network.
“It was clear at that point that we needed a solution to bring new products to market in a timelier, user-friendly fashion,” Clark says.
“Experlogix also makes it easy to build workflows,” Clark says. “If certain features or options are especially complex, Experlogix can launch a notice to product specialists to review the order.”
MCFA needed an easy-to-use, flexible product configurator that could streamline and accelerate order entry processes and respond rapidly as their business needs changed.
After a thorough review of several product configurators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, MCFA selected Experlogix. Experlogix clearly caught MCFA’s attention during its search for a solution. “The user-friendliness of Experlogix really stood out,” Clark says. “Managers were impressed, commenting ‘even I could do that.’” Other elements were equally noteworthy. “It’s extremely fast and flexible,” comments Clark. “We gave the Experlogix team some of our rules and data, and they came back within a day or two to demonstrate our logic within their solution. That was really impressive.”
Experlogix’s power and flexibility provided a major gain in productivity. “MCFA’s partnership with Jungheinrich AG extended the number of MCFA product families to more than 50,” Clark explains. “Experlogix provides an easy way to copy and then modify an existing configuration. In addition, we’re now able to create rules once and apply them across multiple families and products.” As a result, the time it takes to build a complete family of products has been slashed from two months to two weeks.
Internal users use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to initiate the configuration process, while dealership sales personnel access it via a portal. Though some dealers have third-party configuration systems of their own, MCFA worked with Experlogix to link those systems with Experlogix in a seamless fashion to ensure that everyone in the network has the most current, accurate product information from a single database. Completed configurations are passed back to Dynamics CRM which in turn links with MCFA’s ERP system to provide accurate delivery dates. For the first time, MCFA can now use orders to forecast production capacity.
“Experlogix also makes it easy to build workflows,” Clark says. “If certain features or options are especially complex, Experlogix can launch a notice to product specialists to review the order. Top-dollar features and options can also be specially handled. Rules in Experlogix enable lock down on orders, permitting dealers to still review the configuration, but restricting them from making further changes. They can, however, still change and manage their own margins and other details.”
A completely unanticipated benefit is that Experlogix has fostered strong growth in sales of product options. “We’re able to offer options a la carte, making it easier for dealers to suggest additional features to their customers.” This is facilitated in part with Experlogix being available on an iPad. A sales person visiting a customer can pull up Experlogix and go over an order in real time. “They can configure or change it right there, and then email a copy of the changes to the customer.”
Another important benefit became clear during the Experlogix training. “Experlogix allows users to create rules in a visual or text-based format. The visual format really aids the learning process,” says Clark.
Experlogix has brought big change to the way things are done at MCFA. “Experlogix has made everyone’s job easier,” Clark says.
Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Europe (MCFE) manufactures, sells, and distributes more than 18,000 forklifts each year throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The organization needed a way to capture sales and service information in a single repository and extend configuration and spare-parts order processes to its distributors throughout the region. Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM delivered out-of-the-box sales and service functionality, workflow automation, and management visibility into data. Equally important, MCFE was able to deliver a portal solution to its distributors, all on the Microsoft® environment its people already knew and used.
With more than €400 million (U.S.$600 million) annual revenue, Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Europe (MCFE) manufactures, sells, and distributes forklifts and related spare parts in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa through its network of approximately 100 distributors. MCFE was founded in 1992 as part of a joint venture between forklift manufacturers Mitsubishi and Caterpillar. The head office is located in Almere, a city outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where it produces approximately 18,000 forklifts a year at its 66.000m2 (16.3 acres) manufacturing plant.
MCFE’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, built on a MAPICS AS/400 platform, handled all primary functions but lacked several elements needed to meet new requirements. “Our business requirements have changed the last five years,” says Robert Vleeschhouwer, General Manager of MCFE’s Information Systems Department. “Service towards our dealer channel has become more important to us. We wanted to be able to manage the communication with our dealers. We used to manage these communications in several locations using a great number of small databases. Because of that, it was hardly possible to collect management information concerning contact-related processes. It was also difficult to enter standard work instructions.”
MCFE also had a dealer-facing configuration system, but found it unstable and difficult to manage. “If the system failed, we couldn’t find out why,” explains Vleeschhouwer. Dealers couldn’t tell if shipments were on schedule, and if the wrong part was received, MCFE had a hard time tracking down the source of the error, causing delays in correcting the situation. After a careful technical review, MCFE determined that expanding the existing system would not serve its need to manage these additional functionalities.
Vleeschhouwer notes, “We were looking for one additional solution which could manage the communication with our dealers and services organization, and automate more processes.” Key needs for this system included contact management, a dealer information sheet, and tracking of service and sales calls. The company researched which solution would fit its requirements and selected Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM business software.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM best fulfilled MCFE’s selection criteria for improving sales and service effectiveness. Much of the functionality MCFE wanted was already built into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, helping speed time to value and return on current investments in Microsoft® technology, training, and resources.
Workflow automation allows MCFE to automate many paper-based processes, increasing efficiency and improving management’s visibility into sales and service details. “We wanted to rebuild as little as possible, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers a lot of possibilities out-of-the-box regarding sales and services,” says Vleeschhouwer. “And Microsoft Dynamics CRM runs on the Microsoft platform, which is an advantage for us as we already have the platform know-how within our organization. And we want to maintain as few platforms as possible.”
Because Microsoft Dynamics CRM works as a natural extension of the Microsoft Office Outlook® messaging and collaboration client, users have an intuitive understanding of the solution from the start. All e-mails, meetings, and calls are easily recorded and accessible from within a program widely used throughout MCFE, and users can incorporate CRM processes into their everyday activities without having to learn and use a separate system.
“We have been able to reduce the amount of time we spend on service calls by an average of 80 percent per call. We now spend far less time chasing problems and more time improving the total quality of our business.”
Before implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM, MCFE had no real system for managing the sales and service calls it received from its dealers. Calls, e-mails, and faxes were received in several locations throughout the region, and each customer service center was responsible for developing its own methods for resolving and tracking issues. Sometimes issues that had been reported and solved in one region would surface in another region, and there wasn’t an orderly system for sharing this information between service centers. It was virtually impossible for the corporation to see how many service calls were being resolved, how many remained unresolved, and how long the unresolved calls had been open. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, MCFE has been able to deploy a true case-management system that improves service effectiveness for dealer service calls. Customer service staff can quickly access all relevant dealer, product, and order information, making it much faster and easier to understand and resolve issues.
The specific calls and e-mails related to an issue are tracked as a “case,” so anyone who needs to be brought up to speed on the issue can quickly and easily review the case materials and add input. Callbacks to the dealer are much more effective because the full record of the issue is housed in one place. If a customer service representative is out of the office, another representative can get up-to-speed quickly and help propel the case to resolution.
Previously, when distributors called in to resolve an order issue or discuss a configuration, sales and support people would have to pull together information from multiple sources, such as referring to technical manuals, calling engineers, or relying on their own memories from past experiences to resolve the issue.
MCFE is using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to build a centrally accessible knowledge base to record answers to known issues and share best practices for resolving situations using consistent and repeatable methods. When new issues are uncovered and resolved, customer service personnel can easily update the knowledge base to help other team members who may face the same issue. The knowledge base is searchable by issue, keyword, customer, and case number, making it easy to quickly identify if an answer has already been recorded for a particular issue.
“We are now filling the knowledge base, so that the information in the future is available for our employees in a faster and better way,” says Vleeschhouwer. “Our dealers expect a high efficiency level with as few mistakes as possible, and due to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we are able to hold on to this high efficiency service level, now and in the future.”
Because MCFE lacked a centralized system for tracking customer service requests, managers couldn’t measure the successful follow-up of each call.
They also lacked visibility into the relative performance of the individual service centers and representatives. Without these performance measurements, MCFE could only hope it was improving customer service. Now, with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, service managers have a system for tracking the volume and status of service calls. Managers can see the number of open service calls and their rate of resolution, as well as identify service calls that were escalated. If a particular service representative is underperforming, or if one group is completing calls faster and more successfully than the others, managers can use that information to correct performance issues and share best practices, helping to improve customer satisfaction across the organization.
The case management system also helps prevent dealer calls from slipping through the cracks. MCFE is using the workflow automation functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to speed response to each call. For example, when a case is opened, a workflow automation routine tracks the number of days the case is open. After three days, an e-mail is generated to alert the customer service representative and the representative’s manager of the case’s status, and the case is marked as “escalated.” This makes it much easier for managers to analyze the type of calls that are escalated and to take steps to solve underlying problems. With MCFE’s case management system, Vleeschhouwer reports that fewer service calls are lost. “Paper can be lost; it can pile up on somebody’s desk. With workflow, everything is streamlined. People shoot through the work; otherwise it’s escalated and gets handled by someone else. We have been able to reduce the amount of time we spend on service calls by an average of 80 percent per call. We now spend far less time chasing problems, and more time improving the total quality of our business.”
One of the primary goals MCFE had for its CRM solution was the ability to extend processes to its dealer channel. MCFE dealers are very much a part of its virtual sales organization, and providing effective sales tools to dealers will ultimately benefit the entire organization. MCFE had previously deployed a configuration engine for its dealers, but the tool wasn’t reliable and caused extra work for the IT staff to maintain and troubleshoot.
Working with its Microsoft partner, @work Management Associates B.V., MCFE selected the Experlogix Parametric Configurator as an add-on to its Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation. Experlogix Configurator is developed using the same .NET toolset Microsoft uses to develop Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so the interface and integration are completely seamless. “The old tool was very unstable. If the system failed, we couldn’t find out why,” says Vleeschhouwer. “Experlogix is such an open architecture, we can always see the flow of information from Experlogix to CRM to the ERP system.”
Now, distributors can use the portal to configure products to fit their customer’s needs. The configurator guides the distributor through the steps needed to build a forklift order and will prevent incompatible builds. Once the distributor submits a configuration, the system automatically generates a quote. When the dealer accepts the quote, the quote automatically becomes an order within Microsoft Dynamics CRM and is used to create the order in the existing ERP system. The system generates a promise date, which is then shared via the portal, eliminating much of the back-and-forth phone calls and paperwork of the previous available-to-promise process.
The dealer portal enables distributors to correctly configure forklifts for their customers, reducing the time-consuming and sometimes error prone process of working through a manual configuration process.
Because dealer configurations can be automatically transferred to quotes in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the order entry process has been streamlined significantly. “The savings in order entry alone are substantial,” says Vleeschhouwer. “For example, it used to take us on average five minutes to record an order into our ERP system. Today, with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it’s more like 90 seconds to enter an order, and that’s only because we still need to interface with the ERP system. We would like to get it down to milliseconds, but in the meantime that’s a significant time savings.” MCFE processes approximately 22,000 orders a year, and this process improvement alone is saving the company more than 1,250 hours of labor each year.
The Dealer Portal has also helped MCFE improve the accuracy and efficiency of managing the sale of spare parts. Because the configurator tracks the details of each forklift built for each customer, dealers can quickly look up and order the compatible replacement parts, without requiring MCFE to conduct time-consuming research for each order. Orders are filled more quickly and more accurately than before, reducing administrative overhead and improving the overall customer experience. If for any reason the wrong part is ordered, or if the correct part is ordered but a different, incompatible part is shipped, MCFE has a full record of the transaction and can quickly get to the bottom of the issue and straighten it out.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has delivered more to MCFE than CRM functionality and a seamlessly integrated configuration tool. Because MCFE has deployed a framework for sharing information and processes with its dealers, as well as with its internal users, it can easily design and deploy integrated applications for related processes. MCFE is primarily using Web Forms to accomplish this task, and can easily roll information back into Microsoft Dynamics CRM to complete the process. “We put forms on the Web for our dealers to fill in, for example, to record an error in shipment,” explains Vleeschhouwer. “Dealers can tell us what the problem is and we can fix it. Sometimes it’s a drop ship, so we need to go back to the supplier. Now we can really chase those shipments and improve the customer experience.”
The inherent integration of Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Web forms via its .NET architecture makes it easy for companies like MCFE to build the functionality it needs, without changing the underlying CRM application. “What we do is quite simple,” says Vleeschhouwer. “We don’t modify CRM internally, we use a lot of Web forms. Our dealers fill out the form online, and we spool the data into CRM.” Some of the applications supported by Microsoft Dynamics CRM include:
Information collected in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is readily available to users and management, making it easy to track the status of quotes, requests for special pricing, shipment discrepancies and service call status. Information can be viewed directly in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and can also easily be exported to Microsoft Office Excel® spreadsheet software, or into PivotTable® and PivotCharts® dynamic views that can be dynamically updated. MCFE also heavily uses Microsoft SQL Server® Reporting Services, which helps it extract, combine, and analyze data from its SQL Server and other databases.
Since 2004, MCFE’s revenues have increased 30 percent, unit sales have increased 18 percent, and its share of market has grown by 7 to 10 percent in a mature, competitive market segment. More customers are purchasing more forklifts from MCFE each year, and intelligent investments in information and process management systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, are helping to drive service effectiveness and deliver increased customer satisfaction.
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.
Okuma, has a long and storied history of innovation, one that is continuously seeking to improve the quality of its machines' construction, the breadth of their offerings, and the strength of its technology. However, they didn't become the global leader in CNC machine tools just through the products they offer. Much of their success comes from a steadfast belief in offering an exceptional customer experience, which is reinforced by their mission to passionately pursue a customer for life.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Okuma America provides metalworking machines that maximize productivity for large manufacturers and small shops throughout North and South America. When Okuma needed to update its internal operations systems, it chose a software company and product that could help deliver the same "open possibilities" that it brings to its own customers: Microsoft Dynamics 365. Now Okuma America is surging ahead with a solution that seamlessly combines data from all the disparate areas of the company to drive revenue and market share growth.
"We don't allow obsolescence in our world," says Mike Vassil, Director of Operations at Okuma America. He's describing the United States–based arm of the Japanese company, Okuma. The company manufactures computer numerical control (CNC)-driven machine tools that are designed to create metal parts and components for a myriad of applications. The product line includes lathes, multitasking machines, robust machining centers, and hybrid machine tools that combine additive and subtractive metalworking manufacturing in a single machine.
Revered for its craftsmanship and excellent service, the company promises "open possibilities" to its customers—individualized, ongoing support—ensuring that its machines stay at the forefront of technological developments. Unique among its competitors, Okuma is a singlesource provider of CNC tools. Because it manufactures both electrical and mechanical components for every machine, the company has a complex product inventory. But the company's disparate business systems were aging, and a lack of interoperability hindered productivity. As a result, Okuma America decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 for a unified view of its business, which it needed for better, faster decisions.
Okuma sells complex products, giving every customer the unique features and functionality that they require. "Providing customized tools is our wheelhouse," explains Vassil. "Those customizations must carry through our business systems." Okuma's product line includes 80 machine models with hundreds of possible options for each. Because it protects its customers against obsolescence, Okuma maintains the materials necessary to upgrade its machines in step with technological advances. "We've sold more than 60,000 machines in the Americas," says Jim King, President and Chief Operating Officer at Okuma America. "Every machine we bring over from Japan has a unique part number, and every option for that machine also has a unique part number." With a larger, more complex product line, Okuma found it difficult to maintain its initial system implementations—many of them 20 years old.
Okuma's product lifecycle management software was obsolete. The company's original enterprise resource planning (ERP) system was so heavily customized that it was nearly impossible to integrate it with other systems. And without a true customer relationship management (CRM) solution, salespeople didn't have the 360-degree view they needed to build and maintain relationships. So, the company opted for a comprehensive solution to cover every business area.
The Okuma America business model is built on four pillars—sales, engineering, service (aftermarket parts and service), and operations—that must exchange data to optimize operations. King recognized a clear advantage in Dynamics 365, the modern and intelligent cloud applications suite that unifies CRM and ERP capabilities to break down data silos. Okuma was specifically interested in the Warehouse management, Accounts payable, Accounts receivable, General ledger, Master planning, Production control, and Procurement and sourcing modules in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, along with Dynamics 365 for Sales.
Okuma America engaged with Microsoft FastTrack for Dynamics 365 and Hitachi Solutions to deploy the solution. King appreciated the team's commitment to customer service. "As a manufacturer that sells through distribution channels, we know how important it is for customers to have a direct connection to us," he says. "We got the same satisfaction from being able to deal directly with Microsoft team members who could help us with specific issues."
The result was a modern, interoperable system that accelerates efficiency, supports collaboration, and improves sales with real-time data. With Microsoft Power Platform data integration, including Common Data Service and Data Integrator, data flows seamlessly between the Dynamics 365 ERP and CRM solutions at Okuma. "We've completely streamlined and automated our processes from two or three different systems, where we were manually inserting information into requests coming directly from the distributor, all the way to a sales order where we can invoice, recognize revenue, and track all of our costs," says Vassil.
Compliance with international regulations is part and parcel of that data integration. "Being a wholly owned subsidiary of a public company in Japan, we comply with the Japan Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission requirements," explains King. "And we've simplified our compliance with those regulations by moving our systems to the cloud and having that Microsoft layer of security in place."
Data makes the difference for Okuma America. Fast access to historical information streamlines customer service and sharpens business insights. "We're able to understand market share growth better than ever before," says King, "so we can drive revenue growth through an improved grasp on costing, the impact of sales decisions, and margins. In the end, this granularity helps us move through the cycle, from sales to operations. We're excited to reimagine the possibilities for Okuma America."
Reliance Home Comfort is one of Canada’s leading home comfort systems providers, offering customers the unique option to own or rent heating & air conditioning, and water heating solutions.
Small, local companies typically dominate the relatively low-margin heating & air conditioning, and water heating products and services market. Reliance Home Comfort, however, has operation centers spread across four Canadian Provinces, supported by one of the largest licensed technician networks and in-home product-quality management teams that perform ongoing quality audits.
“We’re impartial in recommending the best products for the job, and take the risk and worry out of product ownership so customers can fully enjoy their homes,” says John Pavkovic, Director of Technology Solutions, Reliance Home Comfort.
Reliance’s 75-agent sales force does in-home assessments to best match customer requirements with the proper configuration of systems and components. In business over 40 years, the field sale force had traditionally relied on binder catalogues to produce quotations. The process worked well enough for years, but did not reflect the growing company’s commitment to superior professionalism. Besides breaking direct one-on-one customer engagement to create a quote, the entire proposal production process was inefficient and error prone.
In late 2011, Reliance Home began its search for a better quoting solution.
“Experlogix provided wonderful support. They really helped us streamline our processes and improve efficiencies. We figure the system will annually save us $250,000 in improved efficiencies and reduction of errors.”
“We looked at various configurator solutions,” Pavkovic states. “Some vendors wanted to sell us big, high-end, expensive systems with lots of features. A lot of what they offered was irrelevant to us. Others only sold on-demand solutions, but we already have a data center.”
Reliance wanted a system that could easily integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. “Some configurator vendors said they could make the link – but you still had to uncurl the integration problem. We wanted a solution that was on one platform.”
The whole process starts when a customer makes a phone or web inquiry. All initial information is captured in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “When a Reliance agent makes a home visit, they launch Experlogix on their tablet directly from Dynamics CRM,” Pavkovic states. “Agents are essentially on stage with their customers watching over their shoulders,” Pavkovic says. “Experlogix definitely supports our emphasis on professionalism.”
Experlogix’s rules-based configurator ensures only compatible components and accessories can be considered when quoting complex systems. Sitting side-by-side, agents and clients can try various configurations to achieve the best price/performance for the customer.
When the configuration is complete and the quote is accepted, it’s passed back to Dynamics CRM where it becomes an order; then is passed on to ERP for procurement. “We work from good data from the very beginning,” says Pavkovic.
“Experlogix is a good value,” continues Pavkovic. “It has a strong – and growing – feature set. It is on the same platform. And it has a good price point.
Experlogix also provides both on-demand and on-premise solutions, “so we could quickly do an on-demand pilot, then transition seamlessly to on-premise,” he says. “And they have a tight team. We always deal with people who can make decisions quickly.”
The implementation and pilot went smoothly. “Experlogix provided wonderful support. They really helped us streamline our processes and improve efficiencies. We figure the system will annually save us $250,000 in improved efficiencies and reduction of errors,” comments Pavkovic.
Feedback Reliance is getting from customers is very positive. “And we’re certainly pleased with the solution,” Pavkovic says. He is especially pleased in that Experlogix is maintained outside of IT by people who use it – “which is the way it should be.”
In addition, Pavkovic couldn’t be happier with the support Reliance has received from Experlogix. “Implementation is never just about the software. Your success is dependent on your vendor. A great product without a great partner is never going to be satisfactory. We’re fortunate to have a great vendor in Experlogix.”
States produces a product line with more than 400,000 product configuration possibilities, and is adding new combinations daily, each to meet a customer’s very specific application. No other manufacturer in their industry is more responsive to the specialized needs of woodworking.
Since its founding in 1966, States Industries has continually been a leader in setting the standards for hardwood paneling with a steady stream of new, innovative products, and improved manufacturing processes. For years it had managed production with an ERP system with roots in the 1960s running on a minicomputer, and on an in-house, heavily customized, standalone quoting system. Orders could be entered into the ERP system, but then had to be manually translated into item masters, bills-of-materials, routings, and cost rollups.
The process was laborious, time-consuming, and fraught with unnecessary scrap and costly errors. “One mistake, one mis-constructed item can cost our company tens of thousands of dollars,” says Cliff Barry, Chief Financial Officer
“We have 124 different panel attributes. This includes length, width, thickness, and various grades for panel tops and bottoms,” he says. Different wood grades number in the thousands. “We have 300 different grades for maple alone.”
The company realized that its current ERP and quoting systems were limiting efficiencies and cost savings. It hired Barry to engineer the transition to a new solution. He worked for a large global consulting firm for years, and had evaluated countless operations and implementations. He came aboard to build the business case for a change in systems, and to oversee implementation.
“This is the first time that a vendor truly listened to our requirements and thoroughly understood the depth and breadth of the business. Experlogix’s willingness to step up and invest capital in the enhancements we needed was unique in my experience. They have enabled us to do things nobody else in the industry can do.”
“We wanted to be sure if we started down this path,” Barry says, “that a new, robust configurator could comprehensively configure orders as well as generate costs estimates, bills-of-material, routings, and product master while the customer is still on the line, providing immediate feedback
“We felt a lot more confident about Experlogix, that its product strategy was in sync with ours,” Barry says.
“Experlogix really listened to our requirements,” says Andy Weiner, technical director for quality, product development, and panel engineering. He was charged with detailed management of the implementation and of daily updating the rules, pricing, and new product features that drive the configuration engine.
Weiner identified critical system capabilities that needed to be made more robust. One of the most significant requirements was the integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX, the company’s new ERP. The configurator had to easily pass 124 different product attributes bi-directionally. He also wanted to ensure that when a new configuration was input, notification would occur if it was a duplication of an existing configuration. There was also need for ability to handle the complexity of panel co-products.
“Experlogix really came to understand our business,” Weiner says. “Working with them was like we were their only clients. They were very responsive. And they were willing to make the investment to enhance its product in working with us, because they knew it would make their product more versatile in the market.”
As Weiner began to work with Experlogix, “I realized how intuitive it is. And how well laid out conceptually the solution is,” he says. That will make it easy for Weiner - who is not IT trained with the support of one IT staffer, to quickly add new rules and changes that drive the configurator
“It’s exactly what we wanted,” he says. “We can configure new products on the fly. And with the rules we’ve built, the solution will immediately tell us whether new products are profitable,” and whether they are suitable from a quality standpoint to even be manufactured. “It will help us cut waste and scrap - saving us a bunch of money.”
“Over the years working as a consultant, I’ve dealt with a lot of software vendors,” Barry says. “This is the first time that a vendor truly listened to our requirements and thoroughly understood the depth and breadth of the business. Experlogix’s willingness to step up and invest capital in the enhancements we needed was unique in my experience. They have enabled us to do things nobody else in the industry can do.”
Strongco sells rents and services mobile industrial equipment to sectors that include construction, road building, mining, forestry, utilities and municipalities.
With more than 600 employees providing industrial equipment retail services at 27 branches located from Newfoundland to Alberta, implementing a CRM software program complete with a quoting configurator solution was an immediate requirement in order for Strongco to maintain its competitive edge in the market. Quotes and cost sheets were being handled manually using Excel by the sales staff and any supplier pricing structure changes were communicated separately and often inconsistently to each sales team across Canada. “We were looking for a powerful quote and order configurator tool to reduce the risk of pricing errors and we wanted to enhance pipeline visibility for everyone in the sales chain,” says Anna Sgro, Vice President Multi-Line Division at Strongco. “Our customer quotes needed to be available to management and all sales coordinators and we needed to be on top of machine warranties and expiration dates.”
“We evaluated other software packages but found that Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Experlogix Configurator was superior. The seamless integration of Experlogix with Microsoft Dynamics CRM eliminates the requirement for redundant data entry as quotes and orders generated by Experlogix create corresponding records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM,” says Sgro. “The innate flexibility of Experlogix accommodates our varied equipment and attachment suppliers and allows us to use both standard and non-standard pricing structures. Completely customizable, Experlogix gives us the ability to maintain and push through updates in-house and to keep our sales staff current on pricing and product information.” The ability of Experlogix to import product models and pricing provided electronically by Volvo corporate streamlines the process.
“In the past, quotes and cost sheets were done manually in Excel and stored on individual laptops. Any supplier pricing structure changes were communicated separately and sometimes inconsistently to each sales team across Canada,” explains Sgro. Since going live with the Experlogix Configurator, Strongco has consolidated their product and service options, rules and pricing into a single intelligent system, eliminating the need for catalogs and cumbersome-to-maintain spreadsheets. With Experlogix, “having a centralized and updated configurator system reduces the risks of pricing/quoting errors - including machine warranty and expirations. The integration with Dynamics CRM gives everyone along the sales chain a forward view of the potential sales pipeline.”
Strongco’s sales force relies on Experlogix with Dynamics CRM to create proposals while traveling - often at a job site where network connections are not available. “Pricing and product rule updates are communicated automatically to the field so they can create accurate quotes in multiple currencies each day,” says Sgro. “Our offline developed quotes are synchronized back to our central Dynamics CRM server, providing great visibility into sales activity and accurate pipelines. The Experlogix Configurator has assisted us in conquering all our quoting hurdles.”
Founded in 1963, Takeuchi was the first company to introduce the compact excavator to North America, transforming the North American construction equipment market and positioning Takeuchi as a leading provider of compact earthmoving equipment.
Takeuchi was poised to launch several new, compact equipment models but recognized that its time-to-market was seriously constrained. Takeuchi’s existing enterprise technology platform was over-taxed – especially its labor-intensive product configurator.
Takeuchi’s existing product configurator was entirely menu-driven. Every feature selected in one menu had to be properly linked to desired items in other menus. It was common to end up with thousands of permutations – with numerous errors. Those had to be found and corrected before the configuration could be released to production. The process took hours.
The company also lacked a state-of-art customer portal where dealers and customers could access real time pricing and configure their own orders. “Takeuchi is a premium product, and we wanted customers to also know that we are very competitive,” says Jonathan Pollard, IT Manager
“The company was at a crossroads. We were faced with either adding more programmers (to rectify system deficiencies) or find a new product,” Pollard says. “We run very lean, and adding more programmers went against that.” Long term, the existing configurator simply didn’t provide the foundation needed to scale with company growth.
“As a twenty year technology veteran, I immediately spotted the level of support, confidence, and knowledge that Experlogix offered. It really stood out.”
Takeuchi started by selecting Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP as the base of its new technology platform. When Pollard searched for configurators that integrated with it, Experlogix Configurator always came up top of the list.
“As a twenty year technology veteran, I immediately appreciated the level of support, confidence, and knowledge that Experlogix offered. It really stood out,” Pollard states.
The company invited a short list of vendors to showcase their products. They asked other providers how their products handled certain requirements, and “they told us they didn’t really know.” This was a situation, Pollard knew, made for a high potential of implementation cost overruns.
“Experlogix came in and wanted to know to how we run our business. They wanted to understand what our requirements were. They listened. And then they told us how much it would cost. They molded their product around our needs,” he says. “They did some pretty interesting integration work to make it all work.”
“I wish all my vendors were like that.”
By implementing Experlogix CPQ for Dynamics NAV, Takeuchi is seeing immediate benefits internally and externally. From an administration perspective, Takeuchi was able to shift responsibility for, new product configurations, and maintenance of existing models to the sales department. Instead of requiring programmers to handle configurator maintenance, one product specialist trained in Experlogix now easily manages it all.
Externally, customers and dealers now create all quotes and orders using Experlogix CPQ through a portal. Previously, According to Pollard, it used to take three hours to configure an order. Today, it takes 10 minutes.
Pricing is also simplified. All equipment and component prices are maintained online, rather than on paper-based price sheets. This makes it easy for end users to look at pricing via the customer portal. The single system sign-on ensures that customers are directed to the proper pricing schema for the class they’re in. In this way, pricing is more tightly controlled. The company’s website typically receives more than 1,000-1,500 daily log-ins. All customers visiting have direct access to configure their own orders using Experlogix CPQ.
Experlogix CPQ also helps Takeuchi control and monitor the critically important issue of product branding. Fonts, colors, and logos can be changed, added, or deleted through a common tool set. This also helps Takeuchi ensure that products are going to market as advertised.
“We received excellent support throughout the Experlogix implementation – and continue to receive excellent support,” says Pollard. “There’s never been an issue that they’ve not been able to resolve. From a business, budget, and engineering perspective, I couldn’t be happier.”
The Resource Group (TRG) sells a sophisticated suite of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, ERP and related services to organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
TRG delivers business solutions which enable their clients to become more productive, increase profits, improve customer service, and increase efficiency. TRG also offers a full range of implementation options, therefore, a typical proposal can have many variables. TRG was using Excel for quoting which was causing problems with speed, accuracy and consistency. “Each quote would take quite a bit of time to build because the salesperson would have to reference other vendor spreadsheets to find the price. It was too easy to make mistakes when using formulas which created inaccuracies in the proposal, and because anyone could manipulate the Excel templates there was no consistency in our presentation to clients. We wanted a consistent look and feel and we wanted to include standard terms & conditions,” says Brady Curtis, The Resource Group’s Director of Sales and Marketing.
As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Inner Circle and President’s Club Member, TRG not only sells Dynamics CRM but they use it internally. “We knew that Experlogix was the best configuration tool in the industry so we elected to implement Experlogix internally to increase the speed and accuracy of our quote production processes. We have several hundred SKUs we need to tap into for our large proposals and it used to take us up to an hour to put together a presentable quote — now it takes about 15 minutes with Experlogix," says Curtis. “The accuracy of our quoting has improved as we no longer have formula errors. When using Excel we had numerous calculation errors that we would catch when it was too late. This was affecting our margin and making us even lose money in some instances. It also created customer service issues; having to go back to a customer with a revised quote due to a mistake is unacceptable.”
Experlogix gives The Resource Group the ability to quickly generate a quote for a customer, accurately process additional orders, and assist with workload even during busy times. According to Curtis, TRG now has better visibility on pipeline activities because everything flows through Experlogix and Dynamics CRM.
“One of the key benefits of using Experlogix is that now our sales pipeline is 100 percent accurate. When we generate or update quotes in Experlogix the exact value is recorded in CRM so there is no guess work later by our sales people as it is done real-time,” says Curtis. “We also track revision history. Now we always know where we are in the sales process and our opportunity pipeline is much more reliable. We also recently implemented the pop-up notification function within Experlogix. For example, now our sales people have to check if a customer owns SQL Server licensing through us which identifies an existing customer before the sales process progresses too far. This has improved customer service and has proved to be a great time-saver.”
Curtis is also impressed with the Experlogix rapid implementation methodology. “From start to finish it took us about one month to get the software implemented and the team trained,” says Curtis. “We worked one on one with the Experlogix team so learning how to use the software was easy — I did not even need to open up a manual. If we were to run a ROI calculator for Experlogix, what is the value of losing or forgetting about quotes? Experlogix pays for itself rapidly.”
With approximately 1800 employees and sales and service operations in more than 50 countries around the world, Thermo Fisher Scientific is a leading diversified scientific instruments company.
Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS) is a leader in a field that is extremely price and market conscious. In an effort to streamline business both internally and externally, TFS selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM to improve sales and customer service operations. To help realize the benefits of the new CRM solution, TFS needed an integrated product configurator to:
TFS had an existing quote and order system but the process had limitations, including:
"TFS runs an international business with various factories around the globe. We needed a highly flexible, scalable configurator that would help streamline our financial management and allow us to control our configurations very precisely. Moreover, we wanted a tool that would easily support the use of discount approvals as well as the processing of non-standard requests", says Guido van Mier, Configuration Manager for TFS.
After investigating several product configurator packages, TFS selected Experlogix for its integration to Dynamics CRM and its scalable architecture. "We evaluated other solutions but in the end there was no decision; Experlogix was the logical choice for us as it is such a versatile tool," says van Mier. "Experlogix could handle all that we initially required and more. Just recently we incorporated logic that handles installation, warranty, additional warranty, and freight and duty. None of the other tools we considered came even close to the power of Experlogix."
"One additional very important consideration for choosing Experlogix was for its capabilities of managing our administrative pains," continues van Mier. "Multiple administrators operating in various time zones were putting quite a bit of stress on the system. Now our administrative departments work seamlessly around the world."
Experlogix helps TFS consolidate product and service options, rules and pricing into a single intelligent system, eliminating the need for paper catalogs and cumbersome-to-maintain spreadsheets. The configurator ensures the entire proposal or order is 100 percent accurate, guaranteeing a seamless quote-to-order process and higher customer satisfaction.
TFS's customers across a range of scientific industries require microscopes to fit their specific needs. An instrument used in a biology lab will include particular cameras and pieces of equipment while an instrument used for semi-conductor fabrication will include others. TFS's sales reps no longer quote and configure each instrument by consulting a spreadsheet and a diagram tree to match up parts that can and cannot co-exist on the same instrument. All this information is now accessible via the Experlogix Configurator from Dynamics CRM. They also get immediate feedback if an individual part is compatible with the overall microscope as planned. As a result, TFS has dramatically reduced quote times for even its most complex instruments and is certain that all quotes contain accurate configurations.
"Experlogix enables TFS to produce orders in just a fraction of the time previously required. We no longer have to deal with complex systems involving multiple software tools and hordes of Excel spreadsheets," says van Mier.
TFS also appreciates the tight integration with Dynamics CRM. According to van Mier "Experlogix works harmoniously with Dynamics CRM and the combination of the two is quite powerful. We have tossed our old system overboard and have managed to get rid of at least 20 different programs and Excel sheets on the fly. As the multi-currency functionality is easy to set up in Experlogix, we were able to build a uniform solution that serves our global sales team so we now speak one common language in the company. In fact, we have even started training our agents and distributors to use Experlogi x for quoting."
Experlogix enables TFS to control which users have access to which information, supports automation of internal processes such as requests for quoting non-standard products and discount approval workflows. "Simply stated, our business is running much more smoothly than before," says van Mier.
Toyota Industries Corporation ("Toyota Industries") is Toyota group's head company, with 90-plus years of history, and offers products that account for the world's largest shares of the following three fields: forklifts, compressors for auto air conditioners, and air-jet looms. Toyota L&F Company, which develops, manufactures, sells, and after-sales services forklifts, plans to improve the quality of their after-sales services by leveraging telematics and IoT for visualizing service operations. The company promotes the project and the introduction of Global Mobile Service Solutions (GMSS), together with Microsoft Enterprise Services. GMSS uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service, and with telematics linked to Microsoft Azure to improve preventive maintenance and move further towards predicting failures.
Toyota Industries aims for further growth in the business of industrial vehicles that have grown into a business that accounts for 60% of the company's. Mr. Michio Yonezawa, General Manager, Service Department, spoke of the significance of maximizing forklift utilization by offering after-sales services that meet the business needs of their forklift customers. "The mission of the Service Department is to improve our after-sales services and establish strong relationships with our customers, so that we can receive additional orders from them. We think that offering satisfying after-sales service ultimately contributes increase sales."
The company wanted to offer high quality services globally, and decided to introduce Dynamics 365 for Field Service as the primary tool for managing the after-sales service skills and operations for those distributors offering services to forklift customers all over the world. They wanted to improve their operational management accuracy, shift to a paperless process, reduce man-hours, and increase efficiency. They would do this by visualizing business KPIs in digital form, and laying out a framework to help boost their strengths and compensate for any weaknesses in various regions. They would do this by visualizing business KPIs in digital form, and laying out a framework to help boost their strengths and compensate for any weaknesses in various regions.
Mr. Yonezawa explained the reasons for selecting Microsoft Enterprise Services as their partner in achieving their objectives, as follows. "Microsoft has many great accomplishments as a global IT company, and, above all, Microsoft Enterprise Services made an achievement to implement our systems to our European sites. In addition, Microsoft Enterprise Services not only understands the latest technologies, but they also develop systems based upon our after-sales service operations, and they provide global assistance. They will help us achieve our goal of global expansion."
Further, Toyota Industries plans to perform maintenance prior to the occurrence of failures, which also necessitates linkage technologies between the Microsoft cloud and IoT. The company uses Azure to collect machine information of their forklifts in operation. Linking information related to after-sales service from GMSS to the machine information in the cloud is expected to assist the Service Department in performing the right maintenance at the right time, preventing forklift failures from occurring at minimal cost. "Sudden failures greatly hinder the customer's business activities, and generate extra-budgetary expenses. Previously, we conducted regular inspections in accordance with the guidelines based on how long the machines had been operating. By leveraging the machine information collected via telematics, inspections can be carried out in response to the customer's usage, thereby reducing their burden," explained Mr. Yonezawa.
Toyota Industries chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service – which is already in worldwide use, cooperates with the latest technologies including IoT, AI, and machine learning, and enables practical applications – to visualize and improve after-sales service operations for GMSS development. Mr. Senichiro Kondo, who directs the global expansion of GMSS as the General Manager, Overseas Service Operation, Service Department, stated the reasons for selecting a cloud-based system for improving their after-sales service operations. "Since we manage operations in countries except for Europe and North America, the cloud enables us to facilitate management in a unified manner, and lay out a framework that helps provide the same services world-wide. In addition, Toyota could differentiate itself from its competitors by being first to introduce IoT to the service operations. Our competitors have not done this yet. The Microsoft cloud meets our security guidelines and we did not hesitate at all to use the cloud." India was selected to be the first country for the deployment of GMSS, which occurred in February, 2018. "One reason we chose to deploy GMSS to India first is that we directly manage the distributors with standard service operations and it would allow us to examine their cost-effectiveness in detail. Another reason is that, if it is proven cost-effective in India, where wages are low, we could promote the deployment of GMSS to distributors in other countries," said Mr. Kondo.
In India, approximately 80 field service technicians had been receiving instructions on after-sales service operations in written form or manually. Technicians' visit plans had been written on white boards, and material preparation before the visits was time-consuming. "The introduction of GMSS based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Services enabled the dispatchers to prepare and allocate instructions to give to the technicians. A mobile device app scheduled customer visits, periodical inspections and repair work for the technicians. Service reports can now be displayed on a screen, explained to the customer, signed by the customer, and submitted to the technician's superior in a paperless stream, resulting in a significant improvement in work efficiency," said Mr. Ryo Makino, a core member in charge of GMSS deployment in India, and Group Manager, Planning Group, Overseas Service Operation, Service Department.
Various materials, including service materials, check sheet for maintenances, and visit histories that were used to previously store in separate locations can all be accessed from mobile devices, helping reduce the time taken to prepare them before paying the customer a visit. This also made it possible to determine the exact amount of value added work time to the customer (excluding the time for making work preparations and travel, the time needed to start work after arrival, etc.), immediately perform an analysis, and make improvements to further promote the standardization of work procedures and the efficiency resulting from the GMSS deployment. Toyota Industries intends to reduce technician man-hours by 20% – 25% with this freshly deployed system in India.
"System deployment is pointless if it cannot benefit the following three parties: the manufacturer, the distributors, and the customer. This GMSS shows us a variety of statistics and enables us to be more efficient. The ideal arrangement is that the technicians that perform service operations use the GMSS, perform their jobs with greater ease, and feel happier, instead of just being obligatorily trained to reduce wasted time. This in turn improves the services we provide and makes the customers happier," explained Mr. Yonezawa.
GMSS will have been deployed in Vietnam by June, 2018, and then expanded into Singapore, Malaysia, South America, and Japan after that. "Nowadays, there are fewer technicians available, and more problems with an aging workforce and shortages. We want to deploy a system, and create an environment, where problems with paper are eliminated, and the work can be performed in a safe and efficient manner to attract more human resources," said Mr. Kondo.
To conclude, Mr. Yonezawa said, "Our next goal is to achieve improved failure prediction together with Microsoft. We want to identify what makes our customers happy to tell us that choosing our service was the right idea. We also want to sample forklift data, use it to facilitate the design and development of future forklifts, and deliver better products and services to our customers."
Toyota Industries, which has the world's largest forklift marketshare, will continue to improve the quality of their after-sales services, and boost customer satisfaction and sales growth as it approaches the 100th anniversary of its foundation.
Unicom creates products and business solutions that solve a variety of deployment challenges, accelerate time to market, reduce ownership costs and increase business efficiencies.
As a manufacturer that designs and builds server appliances and network equipment products, UNICOM had been successfully using Microsoft Dynamics™ GP as its ERP system for about 10 years in a model requiring little variation in product. As time has progressed, UNICOM has adapted to changing customer needs and now offers more configure-to-order sales with a higher degree of product and services complexity. “Dynamics GP did have a basic configuration tool, but it did not have the flexibility we needed, or the ability to handle the kind of complexity we were starting to experience in our orders,” says David Klubock, UNICOM’s Dynamics GP Administrator. “The Dynamics GP configurator was also not available to our non-GP users in the sales department, who were working primarily out of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM application.”
“Wherever our sales people are in the field, they are able to access the Experlogix Configurator running inside Dynamics CRM. Experlogix is tied directly into the costs in Dynamics GP, so when they are in front of a customer outside of the office, they using the real-time costs straight from Dynamics GP.”
“Previously, our sales staff was using a myriad of tools, such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and everyone was working from individual cost sheets that were not necessarily linked to the most up-to-date source,” says Rob Sheriff, Vice President, Sales Operations. “So when new sales opportunities were submitted for approval, it took extra time to validate and correct costs associated with an order. And as a result, we were faced with both an impediment to the speed with which we could process orders, as well as the consistency in which orders were being presented to the pricing committee for approval.”
After a thorough review of configurator vendors, UNICOM chose the Experlogix Product Configurator for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP as an integrated, easy to use solution that can consistently support both its order desk users and well as its sales staff users. “Today we may get an order for a dozen of a given product that is a straight line SKU that we can build from a standard configuration, while others will be an order for a single item that will be built from a selection of a long laundry list of components and offerings that will result in a single configuration,” says Sheriff. “We needed a configurator that could support all of our users no matter the Dynamics application they were working out of. While our Dynamics GP order desk users only need to use the Experlogix Configurator for a small number of orders that have complexity, our sales staff, working out of Dynamics CRM, use it extensively.”
The sales staff can now use the Experlogix Configurator, combined with Dynamics CRM, to fully support their sales quoting process. Once a quote has been generated, a quote report is generated out of Dynamics CRM, and a business case report is created from the Dynamics CRM opportunity, and together form the necessary input needed for the pricing committee to approve the order. In addition, because Experlogix is web-based, the sales staff can work with their customer on-site and can create a quote with the assurance that they are connected to the current price list.
“Wherever our sales people are in the field, they are able to access the Experlogix Configurator running inside Dynamics CRM. Experlogix is tied directly into the costs in Dynamics GP, so when they are in front of a customer outside of the office, they using the real-time costs straight from Dynamics GP,” according to Sheriff. The Experlogix Configurator has brought benefits to other departments outside of sales within UNICOM as well. “Our engineering department is keenly interested in making sure the sales staff isn’t quoting something that can’t be built,” says Sheriff. “When engineering creates new limits or constraints, we can use Experlogix to input those real-life rules and ensure our sales quotes represent a realistic and buildable product to our clients. In addition, we found Experlogix to be unique in its ability to handle our professional and technical services elements. It’s not a simple calculation, or just a list or parts and cost of materials that we need to quote. Experlogix enables us to incorporate the business rules and formulas associated with the services we provide and at the same time provides consistency in how those services are quoted across all of our sales associates. It also has provided us with a single point of maintenance, since we maintain these rules and costs in Experlogix.”
“Experlogix has made it easier to quote” continues Sheriff. ” It has given us more confidence in the accuracy and consistency of our quotes; it has expanded our ability to generate accurate quotes from anywhere our sales people are.
"During the implementation process, we asked Experlogix to do some really complicated things, because we have some very intricate quoting requirements,” according to Mike Garrels , CRM Administrator\Developer. “The Experlogix technical support team has been awesome. They have a good understanding of best business practices which has been helpful to us. And we’ve been able to email or call them anytime, including weekends or at night and they’ve always had a solution for us. We’ve been very pleased working with Experlogix."
Valley Countertops designs, manufacturers, and sells premiere countertop solutions, including kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, boardroom tables, signage, and vertical “wet walls” in granite and other materials.
Based outside Vancouver, BC, Valley Countertops serves the western Canadian provinces, including Vancouver Island. Until recently, it had relied solely on Microsoft Dynamics GP for developing customer quotes. But its rapid growth since adding new product ranges, factory-sealed granite and other high-end materials put a strain on how it processed custom orders.
“Valley Countertops is committed to using technology wherever we can to improve efficiencies and the customer experience,” says Matthew Peacock, Valley Countertops IT System Administrator. The company was using Dynamics GP, but it didn’t support the detailed quoting functions necessary to design and manufacture customer orders. “We were really left to use pencil and paper to do quotes. Sales would draw out the configuration, calculate the square footage, and figure out what the appropriate SKUs were to complete the order,” he says. “Each salesperson had his or her own process and style. Even though we had established operating policies, the main problem was consistency, which provided the opportunity for error and overlooking required SKUs.”
“The further you proceed in the manufacturing process before you realize there’s a problem, the more costly the problem becomes.” Some errors required going back to the customer with a new quote, others meant rebuilding the job, resulting in delays and dissatisfaction – and sometimes, completely losing the job. In that case, Peacock states, “we had to eat the costs.”
A company effort was initiated to custom build its own order configuration tool. “How wrong we were to try to build it ourselves,” Peacock says now.
“The shift to Experlogix reduces errors, saving time and money overall. The end result is that in the first four months after going live, there’s been a 33 percent reduction in rework.”
The company began a search for commercial configurators. Its Microsoft Dynamics VAR encouraged them to look at the Experlogix Configurator.
“In viewing demos, we quickly realized that Experlogix was exactly what we were looking for. Very importantly, that it would support one consistent process every time,’ he says.
The Experlogix Configurator is tightly integrated with the company’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM system, so much so that Peacock says that his sales team “lives in Dynamics CRM and Experlogix.” The order configuration is generated in Experlogix and linked back to the specific profile in Dynamics CRM. When an order configuration is completed, the data is synced with the Dynamics GP (ERP) system through a natural workflow that eliminates rekeying, greatly streamlining the process, improving accuracy, and eliminating errors.
Great as he thought Experlogix was, Peacock still expected “a huge eruption” of complaints from internal sales when the company implemented the on-premise version of the system. “Actually, it was very well received. The implementation and rollout went smoothly.”
The company gained tremendous benefit just from going through the implementation process. “The process forced us to look at our internal sales procedures. We got substantial benefit from looking at how we did things. We ended up re-evaluating all of our processes and procedures, deciding on what to keep and what to change.”
Another significant benefit is that the system now enforces those procedures. “Experlogix makes everything easier and more consistent,” he says. As an order begins, the system automatically presents elements that must be considered given the evolving selection choices. All sub-category SKUs pop up automatically as you move through the order, ensuring that nothing gets overlooked. Experlogix presents alerts when certain choices add unnecessary, complexities and/or costs. “It ensures that you don’t miss anything,” Peacock says.
Experlogix greatly helps facilitate new hires getting rapidly up to speed, dramatically reducing the learning curve,” he says. “With Experlogix, you follow the same process every time. You don’t have to learn which SKUs go with which materials. The system automatically tells you which SKUs you can use. We’ve gone from having a piece of paper that gave you thousands of SKUs, to having only the appropriate ones presented.” The shift from paper to Experlogix reduced errors that arose from selecting inappropriate SKUs, and from overlooking necessary SKUs. “Though it takes a similar amount of time to do an order, it ends up saving time – and money – overall, because nothing gets missed,” he says. The end result is that in the first four months after going live, Valley Countertops has experienced a 33 percent reduction in rework.
From a customer perspective, customer quotes are now greatly more transparent. Before, it was a list of SKUs; with Experlogix, each SKU is described for every job in a home so that customers know what room is being referenced, and why every SKU is required. “It enables the customer to quickly and easily know what they’re paying for,” Peacock states.
Peacock finds Experlogix staff very knowledgeable and extremely responsive and helpful. “If I submit a question, I always get an answer back within a day. Being able to rely and build on that kind of responsiveness from a solutions provider makes my life a whole lot easier.”