Major investment will bring us closer to customers

5 minute(s) to read

If you’re going to reach a mountain’s peak, you need a solid base from which to climb.

That’s why Cubro is investing in a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which is designed to transform every aspect of our business operation. Our goal (or ‘mountain peak’) is to become a more customer connected partner by 2021. But our existing internal platform is no longer up to scratch because of the growth we’ve experienced in recent years.

“Our internal system has reached as far as it could go in terms of functionality,” explains Alex Cruden, Cubro’s head of ICT. Alex is the sponsor of ‘Project Tenzing’ – an initiative that will see a new $1.5m enterprise software solution launched in August 2020.

“Much of our old system was designed in-house and customised quite heavily which always results in systems that are difficult to support,” he says. “The more customisation you add, the more complex the system becomes. It gets unwieldy and awkward to use. It’s not a good long-term scenario and the functionality within the system isn’t what we consider to be best practice in supply chain management.”

Over the past 18 months, eight staff were recruited to Project Tenzing and worked alongside ERP implementation specialist Bernie Winter to assess Cubro’s needs and find a suitable ERP replacement. The Project Tenzing team have chosen the internationally renowned ‘Infor LN’ software system which is specifically designed for manufacturers of complex products.

“It is transformational,” Bernie says. “This system is not intended to just be better, it will be very different to the current one and will allow Cubro to then say ‘right, now we’ve got this foundation and it’s working and it’s solid, where can we go now as a business?’”

The new system will work across nine different ‘business cycles’ and will touch everything from launching new products to the entire sales process, custom orders, service and support, future forecasts, data recording and finance.

“For example, one of those business cycles is called ‘procure to pay’ and covers Cubro’s whole buying process,” Bernie explains. “What are we buying? How much are we buying? When is it coming? What happens if it doesn’t come on time? Who’s affected? Our warehouse is entirely governed by this system. Every single item is scanned and tracked so we know exactly where everything is at any given point in time.”

The new ERP system will be fully integrated, so all information is accurate and easily accessible. “Cubro’s customer service is incredibly good anyway but it will improve further now because the customer care team will be able to see the information better. Now inventory is in a separate system to where the orders are, so staff can’t always tell whether inventory is accurate or not.”

Customers will notice the documentation they receive will look slightly different. But overall, they should enjoy a better, more efficient, experience when dealing with Cubro.

“We have been doing business process re-engineering at the same time,” Bernie says. “We’re not just picking a new ERP system, putting it in and saying, ‘there you go’. We’re looking at every single process in the business and asking, ‘does this still make sense or is there another best practice option?’”

Staff working on Project Tenzing have been regular team members recruited from across the business rather than senior management. Bernie says they’ve “been a dream” to work with and feedback from Cubro’s wider staff has been excellent. “Everyone’s very positive and excited. We’ve got that buzz going now where people want to see more and be involved.”

Cubro’s Chief Financial Officer Cameron Currie says no stone has been left unturned by Project Tenzing, and the company will become more efficient, transparent and collaborative as a result.

“We’re investing in the future of our company so we’re capable of taking on our customers’ growth and aspirations,” Cameron says. “We’ve gone through every process and questioned whether it’s adding value to our customer or if the information is still used or required. If not, why do we have it?

“We’ve had our current system for 12 or 13 years and we’ve really pushed it to its limits. We aren’t a static company, we are growing and offering a lot more complex things to our customers than we did 12 years ago. This is a monumental investment that will allow us to provide a more robust service and offer a lot more transparency in terms of where orders are in the supply chain.”

Cameron says Cubro’s team “are really fired up” and a tremendous amount of work has been done to ensure a seamless transition.

Alex says the new ERP system will give the company much greater visibility of their products and the delivery process, providing greater scope for customers to order items online.

“We have limited capability to order through our website now,” he says. “The different market sectors that we operate in have their own complexities about how you can order, what you can order and to what value, depending on who’s supplying the funding. Training and ‘how-to’ videos are also expected to be available online.

“We don’t see this as a project that will ever finish completely. There will be ongoing improvements and product information will always be refreshed as new information is provided.

“But the common theme here, in addition to improving how we operate as a business, is our desire to enhance the connection we have with our customers.

“How we behave as a company will soon be slicker, faster, more robust and more certain.”