Havelock AHI revamps operation with Epicor ERP

Interior fit out and manufacturer Havelock AHI makes the move to Epicor ERP with successful results

Tags: BahrainEpicor Software CorporationHavelock AHI (havelockahi.com/)
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Havelock AHI revamps operation with Epicor ERP Following the implementation, Havelock AHI has seen a spiked improvement across many aspects of its infrastructure. Its various divisions are enjoying the benefits of data integrity and improved communications, despite a high traffic of daily users that numbers between 75 - 80 individuals across all of Havelock's branches in the GCC.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  September 14, 2017

Forging ahead and finding success in today's business environment, sometimes requires that one shed their tested but dated models, and instead seek out new opportunities to meet the ever-evolving demands of the market. Such has been the case with the Bahrain-based interior fit out and manufacturing firm, Havelock AHI.

With branches in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, and an operational presence that reaches as far as Russia, Havelock AHI specialises in interior fit outs and manufacturing of furniture, joinery and shop fittings.

For the last decade, the company has relied on its own home-grown solution to oversee its back-end infrastructure and it has been tremendously successful. The changing demands of modern business however, led the company's executive management to conclude that its legacy in-house system could no longer keep pace with the market.

Sensing it was time for change, the leadership of Havelock AHI made the decision to implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Following an extensive evaluation period, the interior fit out and manufacturing firm chose to go with the Epicor Software Corporation and its Epicor ERP platform.

"We reached to decision with the board members that the current system would not serve our needs ... the drawback with the legacy systems was that it was not fully integrated with the finance module," comments Aiman Mahmoud, senior IT manager, Havelock AHI.

"We had a system that is handling financial transactions and another system handling the operation transactions. By end of the month, all the operations shifted the financial transactions manually and then the processing of financial transactions happened again manually. At the end of the day, we felt that this was really a marathon exercise to keep doing and a bit risky as well, in terms of control."

Essentially, the system's architecture operated on two disparate systems, the first of which oversaw manufacturing and contracting processes, while the second handled the accounting and finance. In addition to limiting visibility and transparency across departments, as well occasionally loss in productivity and efficiency, the operational model was challenging to manage at each month-end.

Squaring the books away at the end of month meant that all operational data from the manufacturing system had to be transferred over to accounting. This was followed by a lengthy validation process to ensure the data was void of errors.

Elaborating further, the senior IT manager explains that the business' success depends on a number of critical factors, which include being agile and flexible in order to meet demand for products that fully customisable, while also ensuring on-time-delivery (OTD).

As such the back-end operation demanded tight integration of all processes, all the way from tendering and order entry, to supply and manufacturing, to the final delivery. Delays or hiccups at any stage could result in miscommunication in product design, missing the OTD date, or worse still, a loss in business.

Thus it was decided by the team at Havelock AHI that the ‘home-grown' solution needed to be replaced with a third-party ERP solution. The modern system would need to improve visibility and transparency across the all aspects of the organisation, which included connecting with all the branches spread out across the GCC, while also automating and streamlining business processes.

Other requirements also included the need for the platform to be industry-specific, scalable as to support future business growth, as well as offering a high a level of customisation.

"We started to explore the different ERP solutions in the market and Epicor was shortlisted. Epicor was selected because their system was so scalable, you can do a lot of customisation based on the business' needs," comments Mahmoud.

This proved particularly useful in facilitating the process needs of the firm's manufacturing and contracting departments. In the case of the latter, the tendering process in particular demanded a fairly high amount of customisation, due to the sheer number of requirements from clients active in different areas of the market.

"If you look in the market, most of the ERPs, the well-known brands as well, they don't fit exactly the joinery and fit out requirements out of the box," explains Mahmoud.
"We had good customisation to cover our needs in the estimation module, and we also had small customisations in different areas of the supply chain process."

The senior IT manager went on to point that once the implementation process begun, the platform revealed itself to be incredibly user-friendly and required minimal technical knowledge to implement. As such the team at Havelock AHI took it upon themselves to handle the entire implementation in-house, save for a single module.

"IT took the challenge of implementing this software into the company, except for one module, the finance module. As all the transactions go into that module, we left it to Epicor themselves," explains Mahmoud.

Following the implementation, Havelock AHI has seen a spiked improvement across many aspects of its infrastructure. Its various divisions are enjoying the benefits of data integrity and improved communications, despite a high traffic of daily users that numbers between 75 - 80 individuals across all of Havelock's branches in the GCC.

With access to dashboards and the automation of reports as well, Havelock AHI's upper echelons are also enjoying the benefits of improved visibility and transparency, which in turn is aiding the leadership to make smarter and more effective decisions.
"The efficiency and productivity of the team - this is the biggest factor where I can feel the ERP managed to improve things at Havelock," comments Mahmoud.

When pressed on the type of challenges encountered during the implementation, the senior IT manager was adamant that the project faced few obstacles. However, one of the few minor issues dealt with lay with overcoming resistance from end users in accepting the new product.

Emphasising the importance of a solid change management strategy to ensure project success, Mahmoud explains that the transition was helped along by effective training.

Additionally, as the project was handled in-house and the fact that the training was overseen by company's own IT department rather than a third-party partner, the friendly chemistry between the staff in many ways helped to ease resistance against the implementation.

While Epicor ERP was the biggest deployment undertaken by Havelock AHI in recent memory, it isn't the only technology that the interior fit out and manufacturing company has introduced into its system architecture.

Havelock AHI also recently completed the deployment of Epicor XL Connect, a reporting solution that embeds with Microsoft Office, which the firm is using to generate its own auditing reports. Outside of Epicor technology, the company has also recently signed on with MenaITech to introduce its HR platform into its infrastructure and is also utilising Microsoft's SQL Server Reporting Services.

In terms of future technologies, Havelock AHI's senior IT manager believes that both Cloud and Internet-of-Things will have a substantial impact on the region's manufacturing sectors. As regional capabilities in terms of connectivity matures, so too will adoption of Cloud.

In terms of its own digital journey, Mahmoud asserts that it could certainly be something the company will consider for the future, but as of right now Havelock AHI has no current plans to move to the Cloud. But there are opportunities that the firm, along with the rest of the manufacturing sector, is looking into.

"I feel 3D printing would be the new concept of technology, which might gradually reach to a level of enhancing the manufacturing processes and speeding it up. I feel this will be the main technology that most of manufacturing sector will focus on," concludes Mahmoud.

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