SuiteWorld 17: Wallet maker Secrid reveals lessons learned from move to cloud-based ERP

SUMMARY:

A rapid six-week rollout of the NetSuite ERP system meant users had to sink or swim, and there were a number of pain points along the way.

Wallet maker Secrid hasn’t had the easiest journey to the cloud. Back in 2013, the firm realised that it needed more visibility over its stock and a more automated way of managing its data and supply chain, and began looking for a suitable ERP provider to tie together its fragmented systems.

At the time, the Dutch firm was relying on its point of sale system for stock management and some reporting, while the supply chain was run out of Excel, and its warehouse via dedicated on-premise applications.

First stop as a potential ERP supplier was open-source company Odoo. But Secrid realised early on that this system didn’t offer the upgrade capabilities it was after. It then turned to Infor LN, and carried out a six-month implementation.

However, after five months the project manager responsible for the rollout at Secrid left the business, and their replacement was unimpressed by what he saw: trying to install a network printer took three days, and then there was an €8,000 charge for a bundle allowing PDF document support.

Secrid decided to scrap the project, cut its losses, and invited in a whole raft of new potential suppliers to discuss a different ERP platform more suited to its needs. After meeting Exact, Sage, Odoo –for a second time, in the hope it might have made upgrades more flexible – Unit4 and Microsoft Dynamics, the firm decided on NetSuite.

Thomas Boogert, who is now ERP & ICT manager at Secrid but was studying for a business admin degree when he first got involved with the project, explained that NetSuite offered the flexibility, customisability and upgradability the firm was after, along with a clean workable UI and cloud platform.

We did a mini implementation, and we were already quite convinced this was the system for us. Then we did training on workflows, just to see the potential. We realised if I can do this, as a business administration student, then other people on the work floor can actually automate their processes.

And the upgrades aren’t an issue. We’ve been through five upgrades and have customised NetSuite a lot. Every single upgrade, we’ve had zero adjustments to our customisations. That’s the definition of a true cloud platform. We have full control over our documents, if we want to add a field to a picking ticket for example, with other systems we had to go to the consultant, but with NetSuite we can take control of the system.

Hard work

Secrid has been using NetSuite for finance, supply chain, warehouse and sales since January 2015, after a speedy six-week implementation across its 30 users. But once the firm finally had the chosen system in place, there were still hurdles to overcome. Boogert explained:

We faced a really rough two months. We hadn’t trained anybody. It was an intentional choice, we thought we’re an innovative company, the high season is over, there are a lot of young people working here, we think the system is intuitive. Let’s just let them experience it, throw them in the pool and see whether they can swim.

It was just trial and error. We let people walk into problems. If you start asking them before rollout, in this new way of working what are the potential pitfalls, you could just keep going on for six months having meetings, and getting requirements out of them because they’re not used to looking at the whole picture. Even if you do a six-month implementation, you’re still going to walk into stuff and the first month would still be hard. We worked a little bit harder than usual, a couple of weeks of 60 hours, and then the process was running.

Boogert puts the post-rollout problems down to the team underestimating the supply chain requirements, explaining that really they needed another month to have it more ready.

We didn’t run out of stock. They could order in time. We had underestimated the complexity of building in the redundant supply lines. We buy raw materials and then we have an outsourced supply chain that’s modular with 30 different companies working on one wallet. We buy a sheet of leather, then ship it to a cutting facility, then it goes to a stitching facility. We weren’t tracking inventory well before that, it was just Excel. But for the order process, it was hard to automate all those different steps.

The finance, the warehouse, the sales went fine, that was up and running within a week.

E-commerce options

Fast forward two years, and Secrid now has 65 NetSuite users, including additional in-house staff, vendors and partners. Boogert said opening up the system to partners didn’t add a financial burden, as licences at NetSuite are “not that expensive, with a discount you pay tens of euros a month”.

While the firm is happy with its ERP system after so many initial headaches, it decided not to implement SuiteCommerce when it came to upgrading its e-commerce platform. Instead, Secrid opted for Shopify and Dell Boomi for the integration aspect. Boogert explained:

NetSuite is really good at ERP, but we’re not really convinced that SuiteCommerce is something we want to use. I’d rather see them focus on the ERP stuff, get SuiteBilling and analytics right instead of branching out. We looked at SuiteCommerce but it was way too big for what we wanted to achieve.

We recently launched a US web store on Shopify, which is $150-a-month licence, a one-month implementation without us even doing it full time, it’s much more lightweight, one currency and one language. With SuiteCommerce, it’s all custom code, you’re completely dependant on other people to write a whole website on top of your ERP. It’s not as flexible as we want in terms of independence. We’d rather have ERP for just ERP and use other systems for other stuff.

Image credit - Image sourced via Secrid website.

Disclosure - NetSuite and Infor are diginomica premier partners at time of writing.