NetSuite’s Ranga Bodla recently sat down with Tim White, CIO of L.N. Curtis & Sons, a leading distributor of emergency responder equipment and previous Infor customer, to discuss the company’s decision to move off Infor for a new long-term ERP system. L.N. Curtis & Sons went through a rigorous analysis and evaluation of solutions from Infor, Epicor, Microsoft and NetSuite, and ultimately chose to go with NetSuite. Below are highlights from the conversation.
Ranga Bodla: What were your key business drivers in looking for a new system?
Tim White: Our existing Infor system was inflexible and very expensive to customize. Making changes required expensive outside resources that we couldn’t develop or bring in house. Additionally, there were very few third-party applications available and no access to cloud-based applications.
We also needed to make sure that we could put in place both B2B and B2C ecommerce. Infor lacked a robust ecommerce solution and had an antiquated, undocumented API which made ecommerce integrations almost impossible. Finally, we have a mobile sales force and we needed to make sure that our sales reps were enabled with data when they were going onsite with clients.
RB: Why did L.N. Curtis & Sons decide on a cloud-based system?
TW: There were a number of factors. We wanted anytime, anywhere access to the system via a browser and we knew a cloud based solution would reduce our IT costs. A true SaaS solution with regular software updates with an open architecture were very important to Curtis
RB: What were your other evaluation criteria?
TW: We needed a solution to be able to deliver a quantum leap in functionality and flexibility. For us, it didn’t make sense to select a new system and go through a new implementation for just minor improvements. It was also important that our ERP provider had a robust ecosystem of third party partners. Lastly, we wanted a solution that would fit our business, but also grow with us.
RB: What was the sales cycle like for NetSuite vs. Epicor vs. Infor vs. others?
TW: Epicor was very polished and convincing; however, once we saw it up close we realized the core technology was over 15 years old and didn’t come close to addressing our criteria. Infor mishandled the software presentation and was disqualified quickly. Microsoft Dynamics was a little bit of a different story. In our case, the partner’s presentation was unimpressive, and we disqualified them after the first round. Ultimately, we were most impressed with NetSuite – not only with the sales cycle and product demonstration, but with the strength of the platform. We were convinced the solution was right for us.
RB: How would you describe your NetSuite implementation?
TW: The implementation from NetSuite professional services and the reseller was detailed and methodical. Our business is very complex, and the teams were able to handle our more than 200 customizations. We never would’ve been able to do that many customizations on any other system. Our industry is very unique, and we consider a lot of our processes to be competitive advantage – we wanted to make sure that the system delivered on those. Nonetheless, it’s always quite a journey to implement a new ERP. Your company needs to be prepared for a lot of in-house project management and coordination to get the system live. We were lucky that we had two smaller subsidiaries that we were able to roll the ERP out to first before we rolled it out to the broader company. We used these as our “test runs” and felt completely prepared for the final roll out.
RB: Now that you’re running on NetSuite, what kinds of process improvements have you seen?
TW: Transaction user errors and order entry errors are down significantly with our enhanced control and approval processes. Data visibility and analysis improved due to NetSuite’s reporting tools and dashboards. User satisfaction increased dramatically due to a superior user interface. Finally, and one of the biggest reasons we were evaluating a new ERP, we have true ecommerce sites that are growing well and seamlessly integrated into our financials and CRM.
RB: Have any other areas of your business improved?
TW: We have complete visibility into our customer. There’s better synergy between outside sales staff, inside sales staff and management teams. We no longer need a System Administrator in the data center. Now I’m not constantly on edge about my ERP system. It’s been a great experience with NetSuite overall and we’re happy we did it.
RB: Do you have any advice for current Infor customers or customers looking to make a move from a legacy system?
TW: Your executive team must be on board, involved and fully behind the project. Ensure that you have a strong IT project manager internally to drive the evaluation. Accept that changing ERPs is a big undertaking and it will not be easy. Finally, avoid being stuck on an exact go live date. If the new ERP is not ready, then postpone until it is. We moved our go live date two or three times, but by the time we did go live, we were shipping product and taking orders with no significant issues on day one.
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