Project Cost: $40K one-time licenses (plus annual maintenance), $ 50K in services.
Duration from Vendor Selection to Launch: 12 months.
Endurance Wind Power is a Canadian clean tech company that manufactures elegant, efficient mid-size wind turbines for private and public use worldwide. Endurance sells directly and through distributor networks in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and Italy. Turbines are most often sited on farms and rural properties where the energy produced is used by farms, small businesses, municipalities and institutions.
Endurance was founded in 2007 in Surrey BC by a small group of engineers. Through growth and acquisition, the company now employs 150 staff in five countries. The company is employee owned and engineering driven. Endurance has sold over 750 units, and, in 2014, the company introduced five new wind turbine designs pushing performance levels and reaching a wider scope of wind conditions.
Late in 2010, still a young company with the demand for their product growing, Endurance Wind Power knew they needed to integrate, standardize and automate business processes.”
Tomashevich had completed five ERP implementations with other companies using a variety of vendors.
“Most companies come to the realization they need an ERP system when their business becomes too difficult to manage with the existing tools (typically spreadsheets and small-business software). Putting in an ERP system isn’t stress-free, but, there is a tipping point at which the suffering and lack of efficiency in how you’re doing things motivates you to invest the time and money necessary to take next steps.”
Endurance knew they needed a unified system to track the flow of materials and money. Dealing with multiple countries, assembly locations and currencies was impossible using the spreadsheet method. Recalls Tomashevich: “It can take a month to get parts. If we didn’t have proper eyes on the parts and pending orders, we were running the risk of our customers not getting products on time.”
The COO, Supply Chain Manager and Accounting Manager began looking at ERP solutions & vendors. After reviewing demos and speaking to a number of engineering and manufacturing companies in BC, they found that Infor SyteLine seemed a good fit for their requirements. Tomashevich recalls: “One of the managers recommended Essential Software Solutions as he worked with them previously, so we gave them a call.”
She continues: “The selection process took 3 months, and included meetings and reference checks. Our ERP project started in March 2011. We estimated 6-9 months for the project, but it ended up taking 12 months. From my experience, this is usually not the vendor’s fault; it’s the up-scaling that occurs as your company’s departments realize what is possible, and which processes require discussing and testing.”
During Phase 1 — Business Process Definition & Documentation — Tomashevich and a core team worked with ESS to define and document over 30 different processes using SyteLine, including inventory planning, shipping, receiving, returns, accounting, and more.
Says Tomashevich: “This phase forces you to be organized and structured. You need a representative present from IT, Supply Chain, Accounting, Sales, Shipping, and Receiving to make sure all the steps are covered.” Endurance had 4-8 people spending on average 1 day per week for a couple of months on process definition and documentation, and then training and cross-training each other.
ESS guided Endurance during process definition and training, helping them optimizing their processes to work best with SyteLine. Recalls Tomashevich: “ESS has a lot of experience implementing ERP, and they passed this knowledge onto us. Steve Moon led the implementation and software customization, Curtis Robert’s expertise on manufacturing was invaluable, and Ron Hepting offered insight into even deeper accounting areas.”
During each session, Tomashevich recorded steps, screenshots and questions. The next day, she would hold a one hour refresher session with the core team, ensuring the process further engrained. “I’d seen things fall apart here at other companies. You think you have the process set and you think it is so intuitive, and then everyone walks out the door and forgets all the steps.” Tomashevich advises: “I highly recommend you have your Project Manager record your process sessions for this reason, and run a recap/refresh session the next day with the team.”
Phase 2 is Data Scrubbing, where you see if old data does or does not fit as you try to process mock transactions. Endurance sources parts worldwide, manufactures electrical panels in Canada, and assembles the towers in the destination country. Data Scrubbing could reveal that the defined processes hadn’t taken into account all the scenarios (costs, time), for example, situations where a part was shipped directly from a vendor to a customer. Says Tomashevich: “Yes, ERP projects take a lot of time and yes you have to change how you do things. But, for the future growth and success of the company, it is worth it.”
Phase 3 is Piloting. During Piloting, Endurance expanded the core team to 6-10 and practiced actual tasks as if on the live system. For example, put through a sales order, buy parts, and ship turbine parts. Says Tomashevich: “Piloting allowed us to evaluate processes, software, and our people’s skills. It is recommended to run at least 2-3 pilot sessions every few weeks as you approach go-live date, or at any time the project goes off-track, for about half a day each. ESS offered to be on site for each pilot.”
Endurance went live with SyteLine ERP in May 2012.
“When the system went live, staff feared the worst, even though the Pilots had gone well,” recalls Tomashevich. “With the support and advice we received from ESS, it all went smoothly. If I could go back, I’d have had spent more time testing accounting reports, as those needed a bit of tweaking. Thorough testing is essential. Basically, anything you don’t test can surprise you in negative way when you go live.”
Regarding ESS, Tomashevich had the following to say:
“What I like about ESS is that their team is reliable and supportive. They were like our family. They genuinely cared about our success and our project. They were always there when we needed them by email or in person. We learned a lot from them.”
Benefits of ERP:
Tomashevich considers the following five items the biggest benefits to SyteLine and a properly implemented ERP system:
- “Thanks to SyteLine, our Supply Chain team can now distinguish between OEM and tech service inventory, perform cost roll-ups and has a choice of 2 efficient planning tools: APS and MRP. Before SyteLine, our supply chain and accounting departments were somewhat silo-ed.
- Tech Service now has full visibility of each turbine’s ‘patient history,’ including maintenance, returns and replacements. Tech Service can distinguish between warranty and part sales, and build a knowledgebase – all within SyteLine Field Service Plus module. This allows us to track incidents, inventory and costs much better, as well as create and use a knowledgebase.
- Information is transparent. All employees can see current status of any item that affects their activity: inventory levels, shipments, receiving, transfers, purchases. And they can plan accordingly. Openness and collaboration are our new style.
- Management knows exactly how the company is performing, whether we are on-course or not, and can determine what could be done to become better.
- SyteLine is easily customizable. We added custom alerts, automatic reports via email, dashboards, linked SyteLine with Solidworks EPDM (engineering design software) and quality management. Other ERP software I’ve used was difficult to customize. Our pending integration with SalesForce.com via Inforce will make information more widely available to our entire team (including Sales) from desktop and smart phone.”
“We are considering adding the Product Configurator module. This will allow our sales team or manufacturing team to provide quick estimates on price and delivery dates with certain product changes, such as if the customer chooses options for taller blades or a different colour. This was not available to us in real-time before,” says Tomashevich.
Since launching SyteLine ERP, Endurance has expanded typical annual turbine production from 75 to 200+ with the company on track to increase this number in 2015. The company has grown significantly from their small engineering team in 2007. They now have a testing facility in Utah, new manufacturing plants in UK and Surrey, BC, a sales team in Italy, and an engineering team in Denmark.