- Name: Rough Country
- Location: Dyersburg, Tennessee
- Industry: Automobile/Off-road/Consumer Product
- Products: Suspension Systems for Trucks, Jeeps and SUVs
- Website: http://turbotires.net
- System: SAP Business One, Magento, Solid Commerce, Production
Unreliable ERP Systems Fail to Manage Production, Inventory and Accounting for Fast-growing Company
When Business Systems Need a Lift – Softengine and SAP Raise the Bar
Rough Country (originally known as Heckethorn Products, Inc.), was founded in 1986 by Patrick and Michael Heckethorn in Dyersburg, Tennessee. While initially focusing on manufacturing steering stabilizers, management expanded its product portfolio in 1992, acquiring the suspension system inventory and intellectual property of Rough Country, a California-based, branded off-road products manufacturer. Over the last 15 years, Rough Country has greatly expanded its suspension system product offerings, and its consistent growth has catapulted the company into an industry leader. Rough Country offers best-in-class service and value to its enthusiast client base, with offers that include 100% same-day shipping, 90-day satisfaction guarantees and a limited lifetime replacement warranty.
When companies experience rapid growth, the inevitable question arises as to whether or not their business systems are adequate to handle the increased workload that growth entails. All too often, non-integrated inventory management and accounting programs designed for small businesses strain to keep pace as sales take off, struggling to process the rising number of daily transactions and work orders and to report on the growing volume of historic transactional data.
Rough Country sales grew by leaps and bounds and the company’s existing business software couldn’t handle the increasing accounting, inventory management and reporting demands. According to Rough Country CFO Patrick Just, “We had to run reports within tight time windows in order to not overburden the system and then manually combine the data. Syncing the inventory and accounting systems also presented a growing problem as the number of transactions to post grew. This task had to be performed at night while neither system was in use and, if any problems arose, we had to wait until the following morning for our in-house team to trouble-shoot. Given the strain already evident on the system, we resisted other automation projects such as importing orders directly from our website. We knew we had to get to a place where some of these tasks could be built in without worrying about crashing the system.”
As the gulf between increasing sales transactions and overmatched business systems widened, management concluded that it was time to move up to an industrial-strength ERP solution that would be flexible and powerful enough to keep pace with growth and accommodate changes well into the future. The new system had to deliver seamless integration between every component of its go-to-market process, including engineered design, marketing, manufacturing, sales and customer service.
An examination of the ERP options on the market revealed a clear winner – SAP Business One. A search for a local SAP reseller to collaborate with them on the implementation ultimately led to California, where they discovered Softengine, an SAP Gold Partner, (http://www.softengine.com/), who had the expertise to not only implement the solution remotely, but who had developed a number of “extensions” that could add flexibility and deliver seamless integration throughout the entire system.
Priorities for the new system included: 1) inventory, production and shipping management from multiple warehouses, 2) all operational and financial software needs integrated under one platform, 3) fully automated customer fulfillment and communications that would make the customer ordering experience as fast and reliable as leading e-commerce platforms and 4) the ability to automatically import online orders from the company’s Magento-based site and third-party marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
As the design of the new system crystallized, a rather complex chain of add-on products was included to ensure adaptability for future growth and seamless two-way interaction between all connected pieces. Softengine consultants and developers were called upon to oversee all the integrations and make modifications to the system, where necessary.
Magento eCommerce Connector
Magento enables Rough Country’s retail (consumers) and wholesale (resellers) customers to buy suspension kits and parts directly off their website. When a customer makes an online purchase, Magento sends a sales order with an “eCommerce Order No.” to SAP, which then “writes back” a status update to Magento, including a tracking confirmation email that is sent to the customer. Softengine performed a modification in the Magento logic that enables the system to determine which of the company’s warehouses is located nearer to the customer to facilitate quicker delivery of products ordered. The system automatically checks that warehouse to determine if the ordered items are in stock and, if not, reverts to an alternate warehouse to check availability.
Solid Commerce Marketplace Connector
Solid Commerce’s online marketplace solution facilitates transactions of products for sale on eBay and Amazon. When Solid Commerce is integrated with SAP Business One, updates appear dynamically, almost in real time. For example, when a customer makes a purchase on Amazon or eBay, that sale is recorded in Solid Commerce (which has all the SAP item numbers of products for sale on Amazon and eBay) and then transferred to SAP, which then writes back to Solid Commerce with the related SAP Sales Order number for that transaction. Once an order is shipped from SAP, the system updates Solid Commerce with tracking data. An order is considered “Complete” after the tracking number has been sent to Solid Commerce and from there to Amazon or eBay. A confirmation email with applicable shipment tracking information is then sent to customers.
To ensure timely processing of every online transaction, Softengine configured the system to retrieve all new orders and payments from Solid Commerce every 15 minutes and post that data into SAP. Once an order is imported to SAP, the status of that order is instantly updated to “Imported into SAP” in Solid Commerce and the applicable SAP Sales Order number is added to the notes section for cross-reference.
Softengine Mailer One Extension for SAP Business One
According to IT Manager and Marketing Director Chad Enochs, “We wanted our customers to enjoy a rapid and seamless ordering experience. We ship over 99% of our orders on the same day they’re placed and we want our customers notified right away at every phase of the process. Customers should never have to wait.” To make that goal a reality, the Softengine implementation team installed their Mailer One extension, a tool that enhances the core functionality of SAP’s Business One Mailer program.
With Mailer One, Rough Country staff can create templates for email messages that are sent to customers on a pre-scheduled basis. Some of the more common notifications include order status, shipping confirmations, invoices, credit limits, past-due notices and statements. The Scheduler is dynamic, picking up all orders placed in Magento or Solid Commerce and sending confirmations to customers every 15 minutes, shipping notices every 30 minutes, invoices every hour and statements every 30 days.
In addition to the aforementioned add-on programs, Softengine integrated other SAP Business One extensions into the system, including:
- Softengine eCommerce Connector
- Softengine UPS/FedEx/USPS Shipping Connector
- Softengine Production System for bills of materials
- Softengine Credit Card Integration Connector that enables Rough Country to charge its customers’ credit cards directly from SAP Business One
- Boyum Usability Package for SAP Business One, which enables auto-packing of items in packages
Practice Makes Perfect – In-house Training and SAP eLearning Curriculum Gets Management and Staff Up to Speed
A key to the success of the rollout was Rough Country’s commitment to training and intensive practice prior to going live. Led by Chad Enochs, Rough Country required department managers throughout the entire company to attain a high level of understanding of all the core functions in the system that apply to their department. To accomplish this, an internal SAP team was established to oversee hands-on training for each department. The training regimen included SAP Business One’s online eLearning modules, which cover every area of the product, such as sales, purchasing, banking, MRP, inventory production and reporting. Enochs also trained his staff to run a series of tests on the system to simulate appropriate actions to take when responding to a wide variety of business scenarios. “We trained managers to the point that they could perform the essential functions that comprise 80% of their time. We called in Softengine to provide additional training for the other 20% – the more robust features and capabilities that each department needs to address specialized situations.”
Fully Integrated Systems and Lighting-fast Customer Communications Create a Smooth Ride for Rough Country
According to Enochs, the primary goals that he and the rest of management set for the new ERP system have been met and additional features will be activated over the coming months.
“SAP Business One and the suite of add-on products have combined to help our business run at peak performance and boost our customer service to the highest level ever. Our reporting is timelier and more accurate, our business processes are totally integrated and we’re confident that this system will grow with us for a long time to come.”
– Chad Enochs, IT Manager and Marketing Director
Enochs is also quite bullish on the contributions that Softengine made to the success of its new and improved ERP solution. “We really enjoyed working with Softengine and think they did a great job on the implementation of the new system. We can be very demanding in terms of knowing what we want and expecting our technology partner to deliver. Since we are already quite self-sufficient on the technological side, we most needed Softengine to design and execute the rather complex integration and perform all the customization we desired to make this implementation as powerful, efficient and flexible as it could be. Moreover, if we discovered something that needed to be added or changed in the system, the Softengine technical team would listen very carefully and execute the game plan quickly and according to our specifications. I would rate the combination of SAP Business One and Softengine as an unqualified success.”