Case Study: Greenbest Ltd
After starting life in a garden shed with a cement mixer in 1998, Greenbest grew to a staff of 18 in 2015 but relied on a series of Excel spreadsheets to handle stock and production. After selecting 123insight in 2014 the system was implemented within three months, and after going live they reduced lead times from 21 days to 5-10, had much better cashflow and were able to use 123insight's CRM+ to manage their ISO9002, ISO14001 and FIAS accreditation.
- Lead times down from 21 days to 5-10 days
- Better cashflow due to forward planning of purchasing
- Much better business data for analysis
- 123insight assists with ISO9002, ISO14001 and FIAS accreditations
- 30% reduction in paper
- Live in three months
After starting life in a garden shed with a cement mixer in 1998, Greenbest Ltd has grown to be a leading manufacturer of bespoke granular and liquid fertilisers for the professional market. With a staff of 18 by 2015, the company had come to rely on a series of Excel spreadsheets to control their stock and production, which caused a number of problems. Stock outages were frequent, which caused lead times to increase. Managing Director Tim LeMesurier wanted to take the company to the next level, but could not see how with the constraints of the systems in place at the time; “We moved into new premises and grew organically for the first 10 years. We then went into a phase where we were getting much more business, and lead times were suffering. We had a lot of thoughts and ideas of where we wanted to take the company, but they were all based on the old systems. The company had got to a stage where I felt that a huge amount of investment was required to allow us to take it further. Then we slowly found out that by stepping into MRP we could save money, we could make ourselves much more efficient and create a far more steadfast company for the future.”
The company was recommended to 123insight by external business consultants, with Tim attending an Evaluation Workshop in August 2013. They also reviewed other systems costing up to £80,000 initially, but it was the ongoing costs of other systems that Tim found difficult to calculate, with any customisation incurring further charges. They subsequently took the decision to only select a system that could be largely maintained in-house. Said Tim; “There were a lot of hidden costs, but with 123insight it’s a budgeted cost. With the help we have internally we can address that budget far more clearly for the future.”
Staff from Greenbest attended two other Evaluation Workshops in September 2013 and April 2014, with the decision made to select 123insight in June. Six-day no-obligation training was booked for the same month, which Tim was initially wary of, however after talking with other 123insight users his suspicion waned; “One of the unique things, which I have to confess you come away slightly suspicious of, is the 'don't subscribe until you've done the training’ - you can do the workshops, you can do the training and you still don't have to subscribe. Quite a lot of people that we had already contacted had recommended 123insight anyway, so our confidence level was fairly high.”
Greenbest also took advantage of the offer of a mid-term graduate intern from a local university over a three month period, whose role was to handle data migration using 123insight’s Data Import Kit, and to create downstream training material from documents provided on the training course. Tim noted; “He was there to ease the process, which I can highly recommend. Over that period there's a hell of a lot of crunching of figures, a lot of procedures to go through and if you don't have that right in the first stages it can be a nightmare.”
After going live daily responsibility of the system passed to Daniel Powell, Sales & Product Development Manager. Although he noted that staff were quick to point out perceived problems with the new system, but they were immediately identified as integrity issues with the migrated data. “What they were actually seeing was the clean up of the data. So it was pre-existing problems that were now coming to light because they were clear to see on 123insight. Previously, they might have gone on being unaddressed, but now once they were fixed that problem was sorted out forever.”
After going live a number of benefits became apparent. Previously the company would make decisions based on the poor data available, but Daniel noted they have been quick to take advantage of the information now available to them; “We make to order using thousands of different formulations. A lot of those products are made quite frequently and for different types of customers. Now that we are able to report that information consistently we're finding opportunities for different types of customers. We've now got the evidence to put business plans forward to develop those areas for new growth.”
The sales department has had a great boost by 123insight, and especially CRM+, because of the clarity and accuracy that we now have.
Lower stock/better cashflow
Stockholding and cashflow have also seen significant benefits. Not only are the right products being held in stock with the right quantities, but better forecasting has allowed for more strategic purchasing, which in turn has eased cashflow. Said Tim; “We import a huge amount of raw material per year, and that has to be containerised and brought in. It was a nightmare on cashflow. My hope is now that with better information we can be more precise with quantities and save on cashflow. It's one thing having 10 containers in one go, but it's the cash required to pay for that. If you can split those containers over a period of time it's much easier on cashflow.”
Massive reduction in lead times
Lead times saw the most drastic improvement. Previously Tim noted that lead times slipped due to system bottlenecks; “Our systems were maxed out and we couldn't physically get any more time in the day. The only alternative was to increase the lead time. Our customers were saying 'We can tolerate 10 days, because that's the norm, but we can't tolerate 20 days’. Also because there is an ideal time to apply product to a crop, the crop doesn't wait for anybody.” Daniel added; “A number of our raw ingredients need quite time-intensive processing before they are ready to be made into the final products, and it's that part of the process that, if not managed very carefully, can become a bottleneck. With the introduction of 123insight we were able to manage the demands on those stocks and to plan effectively so that we could produce the goods in time, whereas before, simply because we were not close enough to the management of that stock and demand, it led to time stacking up and lead times getting longer and longer. The other really crucial thing is that our customers needed accurate information. With the planning that 123insight has given us we are able to give customers concise and accurate information on when to expect their deliveries.” Since implementing 123insight lead times have gone from 21 days down to a consistent 10, with deliveries often within 5 days or less.
Stock management itself also improved. Previously, as they did not book stock in or out, daily stock checks of key ingredients had to be performed, whereas weekly ABC checks are now done instead. Items falling out of stock has been practically eradicated. Tim also noted the time that it saved staff; “It took a lot of manpower to go and find out if we had the right stock, and then finding out we don't have the right stock or not enough to do the job. There was a lot of duplicating of systems to be able to produce the product.”
Flexible licencing deals with seasonal peaks
The fertiliser business is seasonal, with peak periods between February and May. Greenbest have a core staff but also employ temporary staff when necessary. 123insight allows Greenbest to reduce this expense during busy periods. Tim noted; “One of the things I'm keen on is not to bring in more labour for the sake of it. This is proving to be advantageous as we can do more with the same amount of people.” Paper usage also saw a reduction of around 30%, as orders could be consolidated onto a single invoice and documents were held/sent electronically instead of being printed.
Greenbest are below the average of one support call per customer per month, with Daniel citing the system’s documentation ease of use as the reason; “Support's very good. I give the office a call perhaps once a month. They'll just be general enquiries to help me do something I haven't done before. Calls are always answered directly and promptly and in every case the answer has been given over the phone. We don't need to call very often as the information is generally in the training manuals.”
In January 2015 Greenbest added 123insight’s CRM+ to use as a framework for their quality accreditations. Said Tim; “One of the many reasons that 123insight and especially CRM+ was implemented was to increase our visibility in the market so that we could get government and council based contracts, which always require a level of accreditation.”
The company plans to continue focussing on reducing costs, increase profitability and also to significantly increase its exports. Knowledge is now held centrally in CRM+ rather than with individuals, allowing Greenbest to provide a much better service to its customers. Tim concluded; “The requirement of the company is to grow to be more cost effective to increase gross margin - that's what we've identified to be the key. We want to retain cash and to be able to go into other markets. Presently Greenbest is exporting 45% of its product and we want to move that towards 60-65%. In turn, to allow us to do that we're having to push through varied amounts of ingredients and be one step ahead of the competitors. These are both manufacturing and sales processes. Sales is a part of this that has had a great boost by the MRP, and especially CRM+, because of the clarity and accuracy. ”
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