Triumph Motorcycles is undergoing an extensive business transformation project to reform its ERP processes and get greater insight into its supply chain, in order to bring more flexibility to its product delivery and build a closer relationship with its customers. It is in the midst of a multi-year journey to replace its aging systems with an end-to-end Infor ERP.
Triumph Motorcycles is a British company that has a heritage of over 100 years old, which experienced a rebirth in the 1980s, adopting a strategy focused on premium products that embrace the past but innovate for the future. Central to this is its underlying technology strategy, where it wants to introduce more control over its product lines, get better access to data and have the ability to flex its product development more easily.
The company currently has over 3,000 employees, has facilities in the UK, Thailand, India and Brazil, and has 686 suppliers globally. It sells in 63 countries across the world, with approximately 700 franchise dealerships, which are all independently run businesses.
Commenting on the Infor project, which started approximately three years ago, Jamie Looker, COO of Triumph Motorcycles, said:
One of the things that we try to do is make sure that we're quite agile from a business perspective. Our volumes are smaller than some manufacturers, but we also like to make sure that we've got tight control over the quality of the product. What a lot of people won't understand is Triumph actually manufacturers 35% of its bill of materials internally.
This project was titled Business Connected and that title itself probably gives you a little bit of an idea as to what we were trying to achieve. In essence what we are trying to do is better connect the business.
Obviously there's an awful lot of processes across the business with manufacturing and selling bikes across many different countries. And over the years we've ended up with around 160 to 170 different systems that were doing different things within the business and what we wanted to do was remove a lot of the systems and end up with a core, end to end system that was doing most of the operational work for the business.
Change before technology
Looker explained that when Triumph first began scoping the project, it spoke to a number of companies to understand where it would likely encounter challengers or blockers to success. One of the key things it found - which we hear time and time again - is that often these projects are driven too much by IT functions, without inclusion from the business. The outcome being that the business feels like change is being forced upon them.
As such, Triumph wanted to create a few simple messages around what benefits the business would receive if it engaged effectively with the project.
For example, Looker said that one such example that was identified is providing dealers with the ability to see the end to end supply chain, from motorcycles arriving at the dealership all the way back down to the assembly line. Looker said:
By doing this, it would enable our dealers to be able to make the customer promises as to when the product would be available and create a better relationship with a dealer in terms of their ability to get the right product at the right time.
Secondly, Triumph is establishing what it calls a Digital Marketplace, which will enable its own dealers in certain countries to be able to put motorcycles that they have within their inventories, or to be supplied in the coming months, to be made available to other dealers - if they don't feel that they have the appropriate customer in their pipeline. Looker explained:
Our concept there is that we wanted 60% of this motorcycle marketplace to become digital and self managing so the business centrally would not have to manage that area of the marketplace. This meant that the dealers felt empowered because they could automatically trade without the need to do that via Triumph centrally, so it's making everything an awful lot easier.
And finally, Triumph is looking to improve its ability to follow up on leads, as it has learnt that if leads are pursued within an hour (in certain markets) it can improve conversion rates from 2%-3% to as high as 10%-12%.
Commenting on this approach, Looker said:
It helps with change management because there's a simplicity about what you're trying to communicate to the business, which doesn't over complicate the project. It makes it a lot easier to be able to communicate why the business is actually doing the project.
Flexibility in development
Looker explained that Triumph's selection process for a vendor to support this project was centered around its ambitions to maintain the flexibility of development it has enjoyed previously. He said:
Historically we have always developed our own systems internally. We like the flexibility of being able to develop our own systems, and we like things to be very agile. You can plan where you want to go over the next sort of five or six years as a business, and generally you will probably head in that direction, but from a systems perspective, there are all these all sorts of deviations along the way.
So making sure we have that agility to be able to enhance the system or develop the system to support where the business wants to go within an ever changing environment was absolutely critical to us.
Looker said that this ultimately became one of the biggest factors in its selection of Infor as a partner. The final decision was between Infor and SAP, but Triumph felt that SAP was too rigid in terms of system changes and too expensive for what it needed over the coming years.
Thus far Triumph has undergone what it calls ‘phase one' of the project and has been focused on improving access to data for the company. Looker said:
We've been very successful in rolling out phase one, so the customer promise elements of functionality that we wanted to achieve. We wanted to get the agility, and ability to configure bikes and flex bikes within the system - we achieved all of that. Eventually we want to make sure that we can communicate better with our customers going forward. And a lot of those customer facing elements of the system are steadily going live at the moment and over the next three or four months.
The quality of the data that is in the system is much better than it was previously. And one of the key things that we did is try to make sure is that we had as many touch points as possible when it came to data entry, that were either barcode or QR codes, or it was through some form of actual scanning or direct automatic input into the system, as opposed to having manual entry. So a lot of this work that we've done, helps you improve the quality of data in the system.
I think it's not until you actually go through one of these transformation projects and you look to move data from an old system into a new system that you start to appreciate how much dirty data you've generated and the fact that when you're doing data analysis, you've probably only got 80 or 90% of the core data being analysed because of various data issues that you've got. So I think for that reason it's an awful lot easier to analyse our data and we can make decisions an awful lot quicker than what we were able to before.