Joseph and Jesse Siddons is an iron and steel foundry in the Black Country – the heartbeat of England’s industrial revolution. The foundry, which boasts 160 years of experience, deployed SAP Business One in a phased roll-out in October 2013 with support from SAP partner IIS Group.
In this interview, Neil Dalton, Financial Director, JJ Siddons, discusses the problems the company was having with disparate systems and how SAP Business One has simplified and streamlined important financial reports, as well as boosted production levels.
Q: What system did you have in place prior to the implementation of SAP Business One?
A: There were quite a few. The accounting was done on one system, the production was done on another system and the sales, quoting and order processing was done on a separate database.
Q: What problems were the company experiencing before it considered SAP Business One?
A: The biggest issue was the limited functionality on all three systems. [The accounting system] is an old system that has never been upgraded. From an analysis point of view, there wasn’t any. When it came to month end, the solution consolidated everything together so we ended up with masses of paper which were printed out at the end of every month – we had folders full of reports. The problem with [the production system] is that it was created by an individual. If we ever wanted anything done we had to wait for a space in his diary. We just ended up being pushed further and further down his list of things to do.
Q: So how has JJ Siddons benefited from using SAP Business One?
A: For a start, the information is now more readily available – both to analyze and to get real-time updates into what’s going on. Previously, we only used to do quarterly accounts due to the slowness of our former software. But now we do monthly accounts and we can react a lot quicker.
The problem we had with our quarterly reports is that we thought we were doing well but when it comes to the end of the period you haven’t got the full picture. Controlled labor is very important for us. If we don’t react quickly enough with labor we can either have too many people on our headcount or not enough to manage demand. If you’ve got to wait three months to see how you’ve done over a certain period, it’s not a good system to have.
The move to monthly accounts allow us to see how we’re doing and to see what we actually spend. There’s also different reports we can generate in SAP Business One, which parts of the business use to analyze progress.
Another big saving that SAP Business One has delivered is the reduction in data duplication. Whereas before everything was duplicated three times, SAP Business One has saved the business a lot of time and effort.
Q: How has SAP Business One helped to boost levels of productivity at JJ Siddons?
A: We did a phased go-live, initially with accounts and purchasing. The purchasing system the company used to use was hand written on various bits of duplicated paper. There was no formal record kept of what the company did, they just kept records of paper which were filed away. It was a very old way of working. Thankfully, all that has now gone.
Nobody has left the business yet, but people have a lot more time to complete more profitable tasks. One employee has been able to reduce her hours, so there is definitely clear savings to come from using SAP Business One.
SAP Business One has helped us streamline the purchasing process, the accounts process and the sales order process. That’s a big plus as there was a lot of duplicated effort and a lot of manual work which has all been eliminated.
Q: What about levels of return on investment? Have you calculated when this will be realized?
A: When we were discussing possible solutions, I said to my MD that we could easily save the cost of a person’s job and see return on investment within two years. Within the company, we’re having three people retire at the end of our financial year in June 2015. They are not being replaced, as we’re able to replace the manual processes they had and remove it from the organization with SAP Business One by streamlining and automating processes and making savings.
Q: How would you describe the customer service provided by IIS?
A: I worked with the IIS Group before at a previous company so I was aware of the services and support provided. I know a lot of people who work at IIS and it’s a good relationship. When we went through the process of deploying SAP Business One, we did consider another SAP Business One partner. But the buying committee at JJ Siddons preferred what the IIS Group said and the services they offer to customers – regardless of my thoughts and preference.