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Taking Things National With ERP

When one company decided to bring its business national in 2010, the company’s leaders recognized the need for a modern ERP solution that would cost-effectively scale to support the company’s growth and drive improved efficiencies. From its headquarters in Preston, Wash.

When one company decided to bring its business national in 2010, the company’s leaders recognized the need for a modern ERP solution that would cost-effectively scale to support the company’s growth and drive improved efficiencies.

From its headquarters in Preston, Wash., Talking Rain Beverage Company manufactures and distributes a variety of water and sparkling-water beverages. The privately-held company draws a majority of its water from an artesian spring originating in the Cascade Mountains. When Talking Rain decided to bring its business national in 2010, the company’s leaders recognized the need for a modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that would cost-effectively scale to support the company’s growth and drive improved efficiencies.

Fresh Solution

After considering its options, including an upgrade to the latest version of its aging Fourth Shift ERP system, Talking Rain chose to start fresh.  “In looking to bring a next-generation ERP solution to our business, we decided on Microsoft Dynamics NAV because it provides us with the most manufacturing capabilities without requiring us to buy a whole host of additional solutions,” says Kevin Klock, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Talking Rain Beverage Company. “For example, if we went with the next version of Fourth Shift, we would have had to also purchase a third-party warehouse management solution.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV, on the other hand, provides us with a complete solution.”

The solution also aligned with the company’s plans for national expansion. “Microsoft Dynamics NAV has the capabilities to support our business on a national scale; we could customize and expand it to meet any changing requirements,” explains Klock.

 

Vigorous Deployment

After deciding on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Talking Rain set an aggressive go-live date of under four months. The company engaged Gilbert & Associates, a Microsoft Certified Partner with a Silver Enterprise Resource Planning competency, and successfully implemented the system in only 90 days to meet the deadline on time and on budget. In addition to its new ERP solution, Talking Rain also implemented Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services. Instead of waiting for more than an hour each day for reports, users can now compile reports on demand by pulling real-time information directly from Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

Fast User Acceptance

Of Talking Rain’s 100 employees, 12 people in key roles across accounting and manufacturing are active users of Microsoft Dynamics NAV each day. Jeff Apel, Controller of Talking Rain Beverage Company says, “Microsoft Dynamics NAV touches every key point of our business, including forecasting, sales orders, bills of lading, shipping, purchasing, receiving, inventory, costing and production.”

Helping to make accounting and manufacturing as intuitive as possible for its employees, Talking Rain opted to use the Role Centers in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. With Role Centers, employees get all the functionality and information they need for their specific job on a single, easy-to-use screen. Apel says, “Within 60 days, we had equaled or surpassed the usage of our previous solution and most users became comfortable with it relatively quickly.”

Measurable Benefits

Since successfully deploying Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Talking Rain has realized significant benefits including:

Support Double-Digit Revenue Growth— Talking Rain’s deployment came at just the right time, with its new ERP system helping to drive the company’s cost-effective growth from a regional to a national brand without adding overhead. “We are seeing considerable double-digital growth in revenue this year, and with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, we haven’t had to add any staff,” Klock says.

 

Gain Holistic Business Insight — With all company information within one system, executives have a global view of the business. Klock says, “From a management perspective, we can now hold people and departments accountable for their responsibilities. For example, we can quickly view departments and their spending at a detailed level and automatically compare that against our budgets and determine variances.”

Improve Customer Relationships — Talking Rain has also seen the new system have a positive effect on its customer relationships enabling it to provide customers with strategic insight. Klock says, “We can now go into a meeting with a prospective customer and very easily show them the year-over-year growth of a product. We can even show them the performance of that product by region. Now, our customers can more easily determine the impact that providing our products will have on their business, and make a quicker decision regarding stocking our brand.”

Reduce Out-of-Stocks — Easy access to information and advanced capabilities in the system has enabled Talking Rain to deliver a better customer experience. Ron Denison, Production Manager of Talking Rain, says, “By using Microsoft Dynamics NAV, we have reduced out-of-stocks, delayed shipments and the risk of losing invoices and orders, which equates to a much better experience for our customers.”

Streamline Accounting and Manufacturing — With the robust capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Talking Rain has eliminated many of its once manual, paper-based processes. In manufacturing, warehouse staff can now print bills of lading and ship products all through Microsoft Dynamics NAV. In accounting, Klock notes that, “We expect our closing time to be cut in half — going from about 8 to 10 days to about 4 to 5 days. And we can now perform ad-hoc reports and queries within minutes, not days.”

For more information about Talking Rain Beverage Company products and services, visit the website at www.talkingrain.com. For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to www.microsoft.com/dynamics.

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