Case Study: Inoplas Technology Ltd
Inoplas Technology Ltd replaced their DOS-based system with 123insight, selecting it over systems costing up to £100,000.
They were live in less than three months, halved the time taken from receiving orders to them reaching production, and also reduced their paper consumption by 60%.
- Replaced DOS-based system with interlinked spreadsheets
- Selected over 20+ ERP systems costing up to £100,000
- Recommended by several companies, with consultants also agreeing
- ’No-Obligation’ training guaranteed confidence in system selection
- Live in less than three months
- Time from receiving order to it reaching production halved
- Paper reduced by 60% with export paperwork down from 80 to 2-3 pages
- Better visibility of margins
- Tight integration with Xero accounts
- Excellent support and customer care
Inoplas Technology Ltd, based in Wimborne, Dorset, provides plastic injection moulding and overmoulding manufacturing services for a wide variety of industries. The company had been using a DOS-based ERP system since the 1990's. While its stock control was reasonable, each departments’ interface was different, there was no copy/paste functionality, and part numbers had to be in capitals. The system was also linked to a series of external spreadsheets, which needed to be manually refreshed to obtain up-to-date data. More worryingly there were concerns about ongoing support. Jon Brooks, Managing Director, said; “Because of the age of the product, there was a fear that it would become unsupported from a commercial point of view. From a practical point of view, the people on the help desk were retiring, and we thought we might be stranded without anyone knowing how to support the product, and it was also no longer being developed.”
Defining the project
The company set about scoping what they needed from a replacement product and set about identifying suitable systems. Jon Brooks said; “We had a list of 20+ possible providers. At about that time a couple of other businesses said 'have a look at 123insight', citing either 'we use it, it's brilliant', or 'we're thinking of using it'. We made some enquiries, ruled a few out on cost, on lack of response or flexibility, and got down to a short list of 6-7, which 123insight were still on. There were a number of things about the proposition that appealed to us. The onboarding system, the seminars, the no obligation training, and perversely the amount that we could be involved in the installation and data migration, as opposed to needing a consultant to do that for us.”
Staff attended a 123insight Evaluation Workshop online, with the MD finding its educational approach refreshing; “Other companies were selling to us, and 123insight, with its novel introduction model, was describing what it could do and allowing us to make the decision whether that fitted with what we wanted.”
The costs of the systems evaluated were wide-ranging, with some up to £100,000. Conversely, 123insight’s subscription was similar to the costs relating to the annual costs keeping their previous system running.
As a sanity check, Inoplas employed an external consultancy, who performed a two-day review of their ERP needs and their vendor shortlist. Jon Brooks noted; “They didn't find anything bad to say about 123insight. I considered that as validation, so we decided to press the button.”
Selection and implementation
Inoplas booked to attend 123insight ‘No Obligation’ training in the Summer of 2021, allowing them to learn the system before committing financially. Jon Davies, Business Development Manager said; “Without this we wouldn’t have been able to make the decision as easily as we did to move forward.”
Inoplas registered for 123insight In August 2021 and set themselves a high target of going live within three months. A 123insight Implementation Mentor was allocated, and an implementation day scheduled, where tasks were mapped out and allocated accordingly. Jon Davies recalled; ”Jon [Brooks] did most of the data preparation and I primarily dealt with the settings and other areas from the implementation list, which was a step by step guide of what we needed to do.” Jon Brooks added; “That was very useful, as we could see the size of the task, allocate people to it and then score ourselves daily or weekly as to whether we were getting through it at the rate we needed to.”
In early October Inoplas held a ‘conference room pilot’, where each department tested the system and processes, ironing out any issues found. This gave them the confidence that all common scenarios would be handled elegantly by the new system.
The company beat its go-live target of three months by a week, going live on 1st November 2021, with Jon Davies pleased with the lead up to it; “The general mood was elation that we got to the stage on the Friday before, that we had completed the tasks that we wanted to and were confident in what we had done.”
Benefits after go-live
Immediately, the company saw several benefits. The time from receiving an order to it reaching the factory was halved, with Jon Davies attributing this to the system’s ease of use; “The very first thing that I noticed were the efficiencies that came within commercial. In sales administration it became easier to add/adjust sales orders, easier to despatch, and easier to ensure you were dispatching the correct batches.”
Paperwork saw a dramatic reduction, with sales seeing an 80% drop and the business overall at around 60%. While they were previously emailing invoices, the process was now far quicker. Jon Davies noted that export paperwork reduced drastically; “Previously we could be sending 40-80 pieces of paper but we could now do it on 2 or 3, which is a massive reduction. Also, being able to add multiple items from various sales orders onto one despatch note, rather than having a despatch note with every item, and the same with invoices as well - a huge saving.”
Visibility across every aspect of the business improved, with a highlight on margins. Jon Davies commented; “Our sales are far more transparent. It's far easier to see when raising a new order whether an item is at a desirable margin. It then gives us the opportunity to be reactive and contact the customer, rather than it being a manual process. It's more automated and easier to keep track of.” Jon Brooks added; “I think that's probably the biggest win, especially during this inflationary time. We can keep live track of what our gross margins are and choose whether we want to adjust prices to our customers based on good current data, whereas if we hadn't upgraded there would be a much bigger delay between us recognising that our margin had been impaired and us trying to pass that onto a customer.”
Having previously used their old system for over 20 years, there were initially some concerns that there would be resistance to change, however these fears were unfounded, as Jon Davies noted. “There were individuals that maybe weren’t so enthusiastic about changing software, however with a bit of coaching they became at the level we wanted them to be and are probably now the biggest advocates of the system. ”
There were individuals that maybe weren’t so enthusiastic about changing software, however with a bit of coaching they became at the level we wanted them to be and are probably now the biggest advocates of the system.
The capability to link any type of document within 123insight was also heavily embraced. Jon Brooks said; “The ability to have sales orders, purchase orders, despatch notes, engineering drawings, etc., tied into part numbers and then available throughout the system is very useful for interdepartmental knowledge transfer and cooperation.”
MRP and Accounts integration
At the same time as implementing 123insight, Inoplas also switched to Xero accounts, as their old accounting software was integrated within the DOS-based ERP system. They also selected 123insight partner Solweb’s Accounts Gateway®, providing a live bi-directional link to 123insight. Jon Brooks felt that potentially this had more risk, but this concern was quickly removed; “I probably had more fear at the implementation stage of the accounts gateway and replacing our old integrated accounts with Xero but the data migration went well. Xero was pretty much seamless. It's worked very well for us along with accounts gateway and solweb support.”
Inoplas hold the ISO9001:2015 quality accreditation, which Jon Brooks felt that 123insight has made it easier and more reliable to maintain; “From a risk point of view, and ISO is now more about risk, we are more confident that our data is in good shape and therefore we can more confidently demonstrate something to an ISO auditor if we need to.”
As one of the reasons for moving away from their previous systems was support, Inoplas has been delighted with the level of support available to them with 123insight. They fall well under the 123insight customer average of one call per month to the Help Desk, and Jon Davies felt that there was continued benefit from regular communications with their 123insight contact; “There's always a face to the name, even if it's been on the other side of a screen, due to COVID. We have almost a personal relationship, particularly with Charley when going live, as she provided that higher level of support for us. Since moving over to Tony [in Customer Care], he's always there for us. I'm happy with the support we get. Clean, concise answers to not too difficult problems.”
Now celebrating its fiftieth year, Inoplas has seen continual growth, which 123insight has made it far easier to manage. Jon Brooks finalised; “123 has been what we hoped it would be. We implemented smoothly, increased our efficiency, and it had some important benefits, particularly through COVID, Suez [canal blockage], Brexit, global supply chain issues. This meant we had better visibility of our costs, had the information at our fingertips to keep our customers supplied, and to make sure that our margins stayed consistent over time. So it's done a strong job for ‘what it said it would do on the tin.’”
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