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Darling Romery positioned for growth and efficiency with Sage X3

Darling Romery positioned for growth and efficiency with Sage X3

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When Darling Romery, part of the 15 company strong Darling Group, needed to replace an outdated legacy system and streamline its business processes and position itself for growth it deployed Sage X3 as its business management solution. Henk Bothma, Head of Finance for the Darling Group, tells Intelligent CIO that the company has positioned itself for future growth and efficiency for at least the next 20 years.

Darling Romery, a dairy manufacturer based in the Western Cape, has streamlined its business processes and positioned itself for growth by implementing Sage X3 as its business management solution.

Times 3 Technologies, winner of Sage’s 2018 Partner of the Year awards for implementation and customer retention, oversaw the rollout of the software.

In addition to helping implement the core finance, distribution, sales and manufacturing modules, Times 3 Technologies developed a delivery manifest module and an electronic data interchange (EDI) interface to support the unique needs of Darling’s business. Implementation was conducted over six months, replacing a custom-developed legacy system that no longer met Darling’s requirements.

Henk Bothma, Head of Finance at Darling Romery, said: “We opted for Sage X3 after an extensive search. It offered a rapid implementation cycle, the flexibility for customisation to our industry and its business processes and a close fit with our business needs. Times 3 Technologies was able to deliver customisations that took the software from an 85% fit for our business to a near-perfect fit against an aggressive timeframe.”

Darling delivers up to 1,500 orders from multiple depots daily, a process that involved a great deal of data capture and transactional reconciliation in the past. The company has achieved significant cost savings by automating most of the paperwork and data capture for orders, deliveries, invoices, returns, receipts and claims through the custom-developed Delivery Manifest module and various custom EDI interfaces.

The customisation supports the challenges and nuances of a typical agri-business, which differs substantially from processes experienced in other industries. These custom developed enhancements, performed using native Sage X3 technologies, start with the order intake and extends to pricing, which could change prior to delivery and days after order confirmation – pricing flexibility is therefore key.

The Delivery Manifest then allows the sales co-ordinators to manage numerous orders linked to routes, which could result in account-based sales or COD deliveries. Sage then allows the picking of a Delivery Manifest into specific refrigerated locations for the ultimate packing of delivery vehicles. In addition, the Manifest manages returnable crates and, as part of the driver debrief, the banking of COD payments, returns and crate invoicing is fully automated.

Sage X3 also gives executives at Darling better visibility into the business. For example, they can see stock available nationally in near real-time and understand future delivery shortages in advance. Reporting has been automated and management accounts can be generated at the push of a button. For those users wishing to view real-time KPIs, these are available on dashboards across devices. The software has also enabled Darling to automate various workflows, including procurement.

“Senior management at Darling was deeply committed to this project and invested the right level of resources in the implementation to ensure success,” said Stephen Howe, Director at Times 3 Technologies. “Darling also took time upfront to scope the project and define business requirements. This helped accelerate implementation. The company now has a solution in place that will serve as an enabler of strategic growth into the future.”

Matthew Kibby, Vice President: Services, Africa and Middle East at Sage, said: “This project highlights how Sage X3 supports the special requirements of companies with complex manufacturing processes. The software offers powerful out-of-the-box capabilities, along with easy customisation for companies with unique requirements.”

We asked Henk Bothma, Head of Finance, Darling Group, further questions about the solution.

Henk Bothma, Head of Finance, Darling Group

What necessitated your decision to implement the solution?

Over the years, the company’s volumes in transactions have grown tremendously. This led to management having to spend more and more time on analysing production, sales, distribution and financial trends, which meant that valuable time was required from the departments.

The old system did not allow data capturing of each department to a central database. With this tremendous growth in the business there has been a need for better reports to make it more convenient for the different departments to be compared and that data can be regulated more easily. Management required more monthly figures on trends.

Separate Excel calculations had to be done and there has nowhere one source of data for processing and reporting. Keeping separate reports required valuable business and management time.

At the end of 2016, over a period of five years, various risks have been identified by the finance department on the old system. The owner of our old system is a small player in the market and follow-up planning in their business and future development of the product was very limited. We needed certainty on a full proof system for the next 20 years plus. We had no other reason as to start at the beginning of 2017 with intensive market research on ERP systems available in the market.

The following main features were non-negotiable:

• Multi accounting periods. Invoices must be able to date in advance and be created over two accounting periods (and over year-ends)

• Processing of very high transactions and sales invoices volumes

• The new system must meet 80% plus of our needs so that minimum additional software development will be done

• Ability to constantly change production planning due to the nature of the product or demand which can change rapidly

• The system can never be offline

• The system had to be built on the latest technology available in the market with the ability to adapt and grow with future systems and technology

Last but not least, Darling Romery is part of the Darling Group, consisting of 15 companies. Darling Romery is the heart of the group and our new system had to cater for Darling Romery. Our goal was however, bigger than Darling Romery, we also needed a solution to cater for all the companies over different industries in the likes of sales, branding, financing, property and rentals, olive manufacturing and mixed farming.

We needed a one-stop shop for all our companies. We wanted to compile figures accurately and time efficiently to management of all the companies, but also to consolidate figures accurately on a regular basis to give the shareholders an overview of the whole group.

We were well aware that this would be a tremendous task to find one solution and if we did, we had to make 110% sure we apply our minds from day one and implement the system over a five year period, starting in 2018.

How has the system improved your company’s performance?

Darling Romery delivers up to 1,500 orders from multiple depots daily. In the past, this process involved a great deal of data capture and transactional reconciliation. Since GO-LIVE on September 1 2018, the company achieved significant cost savings by automating most of the paperwork and data capture for orders, deliveries, invoices, returns, receipts and claims through the custom-developed Delivery Manifest module and various custom EDI interfaces.

The goal was to streamline all system processes for Darling Romery during 2018 and 2019. Thereafter the goal was to roll out to the rest of our companies.

What is the major benefit of having increased visibility into your operations?

Sage X3 also gives executives at Darling Romery better visibility into the business-for example, they can see stock available nationally in near real-time and understand future delivery shortages in advance. Reporting has been automated and management accounts can be generated at the push of a button. For those users wishing to view real-time KPIs, these are available on dashboards across devices. The software also enabled Darling Romery to automate various workflows, including procurement.

How did the vendor meet your objectives and what selection process did you adopt?

After months of research, we identified three ERP systems that had the possible features for our environment and needs. Further to identifying possible ERP systems, we identified three companies that supported and installed the various ERP systems. We looked at demos from all the possible implementers that we identified and visited several of their customers to get feedback. We involved an independent supplier with over 25 years’ experience on various databases to give his feedback. We also involved our independent auditors to give an opinion of which system they thought might fit our needs the best.

In January 2018 we opted for Sage X3 after an extensive search because it offered a rapid implementation cycle, flexibility for customisation to our industry business processes and a close fit with our business needs. Times 3 Technologies was able to deliver customisations that took the software from an 85% fit for our business to a near-perfect fit against an aggressive timeframe.

In addition to help implementing the core finance, distribution, sales and manufacturing modules, Times 3 Technologies developed a delivery manifest module and an electronic data interchange (EDI) interface to support the unique needs of Darling Romery’s business.

Implementation was conducted over a six month period, replacing a custom-developed legacy system that no longer met Darling Romery’s requirements.

Senior management at Darling Romery was deeply committed to this project and invested the right level of resources in the implementation to ensure success. We took the time upfront to scope the project and define business requirements, to motivate staff, explaining the benefits and outcome and to invest time and money to train all our staff in advance. This helped to accelerate implementation and secured a successful GO-Live.

How far has the system future proofed your company?

Darling Romery positioned the company for future growth and efficiency with Sage X3 for the next 20 years plus. We believe that we implemented an internationally competitive brand, with enough knowledge and resource to adapt to the future that can come up with custom built and flexi solutions for our business environment.

If I look back over the last three years, we have successfully implemented Sage X3 for Darling Romery. Thank you to a great Sage X3, Times 3 Technologies and the Darling Romery team.

With great eagerness, we started in January 2020, year three of the implementation plan to roll out and implement the system in the rest of the companies.

If I could predict the future, I believe we are going to look back in 2021 over 2020 with great pleasure on how Sage X3 was the one-stop solution for the Darling Group.

Can you explain how Sage X3 offered flexible customisation?

The customisation supports the challenges and nuances of a typical agri-business, which differs substantially from processes experienced in other industries. These custom-developed enhancements performed, using native Sage X3 technologies, start with the order intake and extends to pricing which could literally change just prior to delivery and days after the order was confirmed – pricing flexibility is key.

The Delivery Manifest then allows the sales co-ordinators to manage numerous orders linked to routes, which could result in account-based sales or COD deliveries. Sage X3 then allows the picking of a Delivery Manifest into specific refrigerated locations for the ultimate packing of the vehicles. The Manifest also manages returnable crates and as part of the driver debrief the banking of the COD payments, returns and crate invoicing is all automated.

Can you explain how Sage X3 was a close fit with your business needs?

This project highlights how Sage X3 supports the special requirements of companies with complex manufacturing processes. The software offers powerful out of the box capabilities, along with easy customisation for companies with unique requirements.

How has your company benefitted from the automation provided by the solution?

The company now has a solution in place that will serve as an enabler of strategic growth into the future.

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