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 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.”