Posted by Tony Kontzer, Guest Blogger
According to Jake Himelstein, CFO of product sourcing, merchandise, and promotional product distributor BAMKO, "if you're not actively working to improve your system every day, then it's getting worse every day."
That ominous reality check came during a session at NetSuite's recent SuiteWorld conference in San Jose, Calif. And make no mistake — in Himelstein's case, BAMKO had seen the moment where things had gotten worse.
As the company, which was founded in a USC dorm room 15 years ago, expanded into a multi-national concern with 200 employees and operations in six countries, its IT environment became a snarl of Quickbooks instances and Excel spreadsheets. As a result, trying to get a picture of the business required Himelstein to litter his desktop with applications and windows, and he had to spend all morning to get at any useful information.
"I had no idea where to start," said Himelstein. "There was so much stuff, so much noise. I didn't know what went on in China overnight. Or India."
And it wasn't just China and India—Himelstein said even working through his own local data was a nightmare.
"It took us 15 business days to close," he said. "I was in the fourth week of the month before I knew what we did the previous month. It wasn't effective or efficient."
Meanwhile, the company had built its own ERP system called BLINC, but moving data from BLINC into those Quickbooks instances and Excel pages where it could be analyzed was a time-consuming manual process.
Himelstein knew that a more mature solution was needed, and it didn't take long to conclude that the cloud made a lot of sense for BAMKO. Specifically, he selected NetSuite OneWorld because of its ability to deliver the kind of global, web-based data analysis capabilities the company needed.
BAMKO started its implementation last June with the help of NetSuite consulting partner McGladrey. The goal was specific and ambitious: The company wanted to establish a tight integration that would result in data that users entered into BLINC immediately showing up in NetSuite, thus enabling management in the company's various locations to always have access.
"I needed my team in China overnight to know where to go for what they needed," Himelstein said.
BAMKO and McGladrey hoped to wrap up the deployment, which involved building a custom API to link BLINC and NetSuite, by Jan. 1, just six months later. It was an aggressive and optimistic timeline, yet the integration went live on Oct. 1, in half the allotted time, and at an unheard-of 50 percent under budget.
Himelstein credited several steps the company took — including assembling a strong programming team, setting up a sandbox testing environment and, most importantly, developing a well-documented project plan — for making the implementation such a success.
"We knew exactly what our business requirements were way before we got to the stage of moving any data," he said.
All of that groundwork has paid off post-implementation, too. BAMKO now has the tightly integrated environment it sought, its manual processes are a thing of the past, and Himelstein can get a picture of the business with just one window open on his desktop: NetSuite. Additionally, the month end close process has been cut down from 15 days to seven days, with plans to reduce it to five days over the course of the rest of the year.
"OneWorld has been a massive change for us. Now I come in every morning and log in and I know exactly where my business stands," Himelstein said. "What used to take me four hours now takes me five minutes."