For Immediate Release
11th November 2019
Gourmet Classic Ltd, based in Ringwood, Hampshire, is the UK’s leading supplier of cooking wines, supplying over 5 million litres per annum. Previously, the company tried and failed to implement a manufacturing system associated with their accounts package, and with a planned move to larger premises in 2017 they decided to revert to spreadsheets. Of the previous software, Sarah Timmins, General Manager, said; “It just didn’t work. Nobody could use it or really understood the functionality of it, and we couldn't get the right information in or out of it”.
Jon Rix, Commercial Director added; “There were two main straws that broke the camel’s back. One was planning, which was literally done visually by walking around the warehouse and saying ‘fill those shelves up’. Secondly, there were massive stock losses, because we weren’t consuming stock in a way that was being transferred into the accounts package properly.”
Jon Rix, Commercial Director and Sarah Timmins, General Manager
However, despite in-house expertise to build complex spreadsheets that tried to mirror basic MRP functionality the company still suffered from poor visibility and stock control issues. They started to research the market, but Jon had previous experience with MRP that led to concerns; “Having seen in a larger company a £1.5m ERP project turn into an £8m project, which, as far as I know 20 years on still has consultants there, we were very nervous. It was obvious that some systems were going to cost up to £100,000 before we even got going.” What concerned him most was that many traditional vendors tried to shoehorn their system to fit the business; “They can't because they haven't understood the complexity of the business that they are going into, and that everyone has developed their own very specific ways of working. All the time then is consumed trying to match these old ways of working into a technological system when actually if they had said 'No we are going to work in a different way’ it would be more efficient.”
Sarah was also concerned about the risk, with traditional systems all demanding up-front payments; “There were a lot of upfront costs - five figure sums. It was just paying out for something that you initially don't really know what the system is going to be like. It was very daunting - a big change.”
After discovering 123insight online they attended an Evaluation Workshop in August 2018, choosing to involve staff from multiple departments. Jon found the direct non-sales approach refreshing in comparison to that of other companies; “The communication of 123insight's abilities was a lot slicker than anyone else that we spoke to. Quite quickly we got to grips with what 123insight could offer us.” Sarah added; “It was very informative. We were able to ask a lot of our own questions. There were people from various departments that perform different functions, and they were able to ask questions from their own perspective. 123 Insight had all the answers for us. It was quite stress-free, and the explanations were not complicated at all.”
The decision was made in January 2019 to select 123insight. Nine people attending training, three of which were designated as ‘super-users’. Sarah noted; “We decided that we needed to have three champions in the business, which was Jon, one other and me. We then picked key staff from the various departments.” Jon added; “There was a discussion as to whether we should postpone for a few months, but after the training we were very confident that we could do it, as were the others that attended. Ideally, we would have put everyone through all of the courses but you've got costs and you've got to run a business at the same time.”
Gourmet Classic set themselves a target of going live in early March - just five weeks after training. An Implementation Day was planned with 123 Insight staff in early February, where common tasks were divided up between key staff. Jon found the experience entirely different to an MRP implementation he’d performed in a previous company; “The other implementation was just not comparable - it went on for a year. It was ‘death by a thousand cuts’. The 123insight Implementation Day was rapid, succinct and they took us through our paces. It was very helpful and we came away seeing the functionality of it; seeing we got everything right. The hardest part of the whole thing was data transfer, and even that wasn't a problem.”
The company performed a ‘Conference Room Pilot’ in late February, running through all common processes using a test database. When that proved successful they arranged their final data transfer and went live a week later on March 4th 2019.
Immediately they saw significant benefits, and staff that were previously tied up reacting to issues now had much more time to be more proactive. Jon estimates that staff have consequently freed up around a quarter of their time; “It's about creating oxygen in everyone's role. 123insight has given people time and space to use their potential instead of occupying their brain power doing the basics.”
As the company gained control over their purchasing and stock they saw further savings. Down time on the shop floor was virtually eradicated as the right stock was always available. A knock-on effect was that lead times on new projects was reduced by up to 40%. New product development (NPD) is a major focus for the business, so this was important to Jon; “When we raise a works order it puts a nail in the ground that it's going to happen. This then generates the demand within 123insight, so it's much more organised. It's probably taken up to 40% off the delivery times just because it organises us.”
Gourmet Classic also implemented 123insight’s CRM+ option, and its process management impressed Jon; “We've set up a new product development process in CRM+ that engages the right people at the right time, so that we can see where any bottlenecks are. CRM+ and its processes functionality has blown me away - it’s an incredible tool. The one big revolutionary thing that I never thought of approaching this way is that 'everything is attached to a company' - that really brings a focus to the business.”
With hindsight, although some down-stream training was performed in-house Jon felt that more internal training in some departments would have been beneficial. Some resistance to change was encountered in the first couple of weeks after go-live; “Those people that we didn’t capture were our biggest issue even though we tried to do it in-house. The problems that people were getting descended over three weeks to nearly nothing.”
After previously dropping an integrated accounts and manufacturing solution Gourmet Classic opted to integrate 123insight to their Sage 50 accounts software using Accounts Gateway®. They also implemented 123mobile, allowing them to perform stock control and shop floor functions using iOS/Android tablets. As a result of better purchasing along with accurate stock levels and locations Jon believes that they will achieve a 40% reduction in stock; “Previously we probably sat on around £500,000 of stock. We believe now that we can operate with £300,000 and still deliver the same turnaround to customers.”
Sarah added that 123mobile has been instrumental in reducing items being misplaced on the shop floor; “The shop floor is like a carousel - everything is constantly moving. People often move something temporarily and then forget about it. With 123mobile you scan it there and then and you’re done. It’s made masses of improvements.” Jon noted; “We've got one simple rule that 'if you can't scan it, don't move it'”
123insight allows documents to be stored against products, BOMs, etc. which Jon found useful; “I love the functionality of being able to print off documents on demand. At the point of printing off the works order the lab analysis sheet also prints off automatically, which is nicely joined up.”
In the food industry quality is paramount. Gourmet Classic holds a Grade A British Retail Consortium (BRC) food safety and quality standard, and Jon believes that 123insight has been instrumental in improving their audits; “With all quality management systems and especially in the food industry it's all about traceability. You've got good batch control in 123insight and every action is captured. We had our last BRC audit in April, so we'd had 123insight up and running for about five weeks. The auditors looked back at the last three months, so it wasn't a full audit of data using 123insight but what it did do was enable us to seriously impress the auditor with future improvements.”
In addition to the savings in stock, lead times and staff time there are expected environmental benefits. The company can now track by-products and are assessing whether they can become a revenue stream as well as being more environmentally-friendly. Jon noted; “We've used the by-product function on the works orders on two particular liquid products, which means that we now get a handle on something that was going down the drain and start to re-use that. Our coffee production will be full-flight with tracking by-products and the works order will also assist with what's happening with the coffee grinds. We're always looking to make money from it.”
Ongoing regular visits from the 123insight customer care team have delivered further benefits. Said Jon; “Conversations with Marc (our Customer Care Manager) are more about our strategic approach to using 123insight, and he can give us the strategic answers as to how we can do that.” General support from the 123insight Help Desk has also been problem-free, with Jon noting that all staff have been able to help; “I think there's an obvious level of competency at 123insight. You don't feel like you are talking to someone that's just been taken off the street and given a script to read. In other careers I’d have to pay £800 per hour to have a consultant solve problems. There was no-one to ring up, no help line. It just doesn’t compare at all.”
Gourmet Classic has ambitious plans for the future, with a target growth of up to 40% within the next 6 years, and Jon is confident that 123insight will be able to help, regardless of which direction the business takes. He concluded; “We’re expanding our product portfolio across the three core aspects of the business - food service, coffee and contract packing. 123insight has become so much a part of the fabric of the business and is obviously so capable that we would just assume that it'd support us in whatever we do.”
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About 123insight: The company was founded in 2000 as a response to the fundamental flaws inherent in the traditional MRP selection and implementation process. They have been either nominated or have won dozens of awards, often due to the speed of implementation and the immediate return on investment.
About the Author: Martin Bailey has been the Marketing Manager for 123 Insight since 2002 and has written dozens of case studies on successful MRP implementations. This is his ninth book, and he regularly writes for the manufacturing trade press.