Brother Gulf to install IFS ERP

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By  Published  September 15, 2006

Printing vendor Brother Gulf is in the final stages of implementing a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from Swedish business software developer IFS. The new system will replace an Orion ERP system from 3i Infotech.

IT managers at Brother Gulf said it had decided not to upgrade to the latest version of Orion because it felt that the system had too many disadvantages.

The firm also decided not to use SAP software — despite the fact that its parent company is an SAP user — because of cost issues and concerns as to how long the implementation process can take. “They [3i Infotech] changed the interface only [with the upgraded version] but the core was the same.

The old one was like two or three modules, hardly related or integrated together, and it does not have many things that we required,” Nizar Wehby, customer support manager at Brother Gulf, told IT Weekly. “The simple things you cannot do [with Orion] like export a report sheet to Excel for example.

In the new system, from every window, from every module, you can export to Excel. Everything is integrated together.”

Kalpesh Desai, chief operating officer of 3i Infotech, Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), said that Brother Gulf had not evaluated the latest version and therefore he did not know how the vendor could make a comparison between its version of Orion and the latest upgrade.

“We have not participated in any conversation whatsoever about the upgrade other than actually giving the costs, but they haven’t seen the application in this form or shape,” Desai said, adding that 3i Infotech had a number of customers in the same sector as Brother that had upgraded and were very happy with the solution.

Wehby said Brother Gulf went for IFS over SAP because it was less expensive and easier to use than the system that its parent company runs its operations on in Europe, the US and Japan.

“It [SAP] is very expensive, the implementation will take a very long time, and it has a lot of modules that we don’t need,” Wehby said, claiming that in Germany it took Brother two and a half years to finish the implementation.

Brother has purchased six modules from IFS including finance, distribution, accounting, service management, and customer relationship management (CRM) at a cost of around US$700,000.

Ranjit Gurkar, Brother Gulf general manager, described the implementation as a “total overhaul”. He told IT Weekly that the new system would allow Brother Gulf to respond to and process customer requests more quickly.

The system has been running since the beginning of this year on a HP Compaq server and most of the modules have now been implemented, but Brother is holding off on one or two until it has ironed out a few minor issues.

“We started implementing it around 18 months ago. We have been online since the beginning of this year and we just have a few small issues here and there,” said Wehby.

He said once these problems had been resolved, Brother would implement the CRM system and a web portal that would allow partners to log into the vendor’s system and check their account status and place orders. He said this would happen next year.

“So far we are not working on that option [the web portal]. We will be in the future, but we have to teach our distributors how to use this ERP and we have to make it secure before we give access to anyone else,” Wehby commented.

He said the most time consuming part of the implementation was migrating data to the new system. “This took around three or four months. Even though we did not have a lot of data in our databases, linking the fields was the main problem,” he explained.

“Orion has many tables so we had to find out which field would go where and some tables were merged to one table and some tables were divided. This took some time,” he added.

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