Getting Juice to Flow Across Wireless Networks

How Capri-Sonne is using ERP on handheld devices for cost reduction and efficiency By 1999, growing competition made it imperative for Capri-Sonne Arab Beverages Est. to revamp its sales information system. Although the company was growing rapidly its systems were not keeping pace, inhibiting its ability to control costs while expanding operations and increasing sales.

How Capri-Sonne is using ERP on handheld devices for cost reduction and efficiency
By 1999, growing competition made it imperative for Capri-Sonne Arab Beverages Est. to revamp its sales information system. Although the company was growing rapidly its systems were not keeping pace, inhibiting its ability to control costs while expanding operations and increasing sales. The existing system was only able to provide total sales numbers, with no method to track manufacturing, sales or inventory.

Consequently, critical decisions were delayed or couldn't be made at all. Management had no way of judging the impact of campaign promotions on profits or of tracking sales leads. The lack of reliable data prevented production schedules from being synchronized with sales cycles, which meant larger than necessary inventories and bloated expenses.

ICICI Infotech in the Mix
Capri-Sonne needed a solution to standardize operations, which could integrate data sources and deliver results in real-time, using wireless technology. After evaluating ERP solutions from numerous global vendors, the company selected ICICI Infotech's Orion, a Web-based open platform, second generation ERP solution.

"We wanted to assign the work to an organization with relevant experience in this area, and Orion had already been implemented in food and beverage distribution operations like ours," explained Jose Mathew, finance manager and coordinator-ERP, at Capri-Sonne.

ICICI Infotech customized the manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and sales, accounting, and payroll modules of Orion and the system went live seven months later. Comprehensive testing at the company's eight warehouses before roll-out saved months of development time and minimized duplication of work. ICICI Infotech also provided training and support to familiarize Capri-Sonne employees with the Orion package.

Wireless at Work
Integrating Orion with handheld devices makes it possible to track invoices and collections on a daily basis, with sales and distribution data online.

Each salesman carries a handheld device so they can send invoices and manage collections directly and without delay. Previously, the data was entered manually from customer invoices filled in by salesmen, which was a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

The devices are now plugged into a computer at the company's office every evening, when sales and delivery data is downloaded to the Orion-based system, ensuring the most recent information is available to management for reporting and analysis purposes.

"The wireless network adds to the speed of data availability, and the system also works well in terms of sales feedback," said Nils El-Accad, managing director of Capri-Sonne. "The sales representatives can see customer-outstanding levels and what stock is still available to them."

Using Orion, inventory can be tracked faster, and the mobile solution means invoices and collections can be registered online and managed efficiently on a daily basis.

"The system allows a lot of flexibility," El-Accad continued. "Salesmen can customize marketing schemes differently for each customer, set sales targets, push these through new marketing schemes by deciding on prices, and print schemes for customers and give them out instantly."

Sales data is now readily available by several different criteria, such as region, country, product, flavor or salesmen. This means greater control of the overall process, and better analysis has resulted in improved sales realization.

Capri-Sonne can integrate shop-floor procedures and track materials coming into the work-in-progress location from the warehouse. Marketing, distribution and sales processes are streamlined, and better information makes for efficient production schedules, and shorter lead times between order and delivery.

Doing More with Less
"I can now get month-end sales figures by the beginning of the next month," said El-Accad. "Previously, sales wrote invoices by hand which were then manually entered into the system. This process took five days and there was a lot of pressure on the four data entry people we had to deliver on time. Now we need only one person for data entry, and I get my information faster."

"I now know when to order more stocks, which has reduced inventory," added El-Accad. "We trade in different products, and I need to know what I have sold, where and in what time period. I can see that very easily with Orion, and I can fine-tune my re-orders. I can also account for random, one-time re-orders, and I can judge these well."

Orion has helped integrate and standardize operations, reduce inventory costs, and save time. Moreover wireless access has helped to reduce costs as the management team has instant access to information for critical decisions, and what previously took as much as five days is now decided in a few hours.

"We can do physical inventory in the warehouse in just one or two hours," said Jose Mathew. "Different departments are involved at each level, the operations are transparent, and the management has much greater control."

An additional gain is greater control of employee-related processes and expenses with Orion's payroll module. "Now I can easily keep tabs on employee expenses," concluded Mr. El-Accad. "Recurring expenses can be checked on the system and this helps in preventing fraud."

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