Complex Manufacturing Made Easy

April 14, 2004 by admin

Whether it’s a heavy lifting crane for oil machinery or a combustion engine for an aircraft, the project cycles for these industrial products can stretch over months or even years. For complex manufacturers that make these highly customized products, sluggish supply chains, uncontrollable costs and strains on customer service are the norm. What’s needed is a faster, easier, more cost-efficient way to manage operations throughout the entire manufacturing cycle – across engineering, quality, sales and service, and finance functions – especially for small and midsize business (SMBs) with limited resources.
Enter N2 FastTrack, a qualified pre-packaged, fixed-price and timeline mySAP All-in-One solution. FastTrack delivers an end-to-end solution to easily manage projects and vendors, accurately track costs and streamline customer service from the first interaction to final delivery. As a result, SMBs get all the benefits of SAP, once reserved for the big guys. And N2 implements core SAP business processes in as little as 16 weeks, for a fixed price that starts at just $325K.

A proven SAP track record

N2 was founded in 1998 by former SAP senior consultants who saw a need for top, cross-functional SAP solutions expertise at a price SMBs could afford. Today, N2 has 40+ notches on its implementation belt, all representing successful SAP solution installations in the SMB space. N2 leveraged SAP expertise, industry best practices and the mySAP All-in-One suite to develop and package the FastTrack solution. Announced in February, FastTrack is the only SAP-qualified solution for complex manufacturing in the US.
According to N2 President Allen Abell, cross-module SAP expertise is still the hallmark of N2-delivered solutions. “Our cross-functional implementation model differentiates N2 from other companies that implement SAP,” says Abell. “Considering the many modules within SAP, the typical one-consultant-per-SAP-module approach is too expensive for SMBs,” he explains.
N2’s approach is to leverage the knowledge of senior consultants, who have in-depth expertise across multiple modules and understand how each module affects the others,” Abell continues. “This drives implementation costs down for SMBs and also makes integration – a must for any end-to-end solution – easier and more complete.”

Fusion UV Systems, an N2 reference customer, designs, builds and sells complex configured products to customers all over the world. Fusion witnessed the benefits of the integrated FastTrack solution first-hand. “N2 consultants were able to understand and configure business processes that cross over several functional modules, allowing us to obtain a truly integrated software solution,” says Sarah Mather, VP of Business Systems and Administration. N2’s approach also helped to keep costs in line.
To start, N2 compares existing processes with a “blueprint” of standard business processes for the industry. Customers decide to adopt FastTrack’s recommended processes or to customize FastTrack to support unique processes. N2 accommodates customers either way, quickly easing the industry’s most nagging pain points: tracking costs, managing suppliers and shortening response time to customers.

Speeding customer response time

FastTrack automates all sales and service activities across the manufacturing spectrum. This is particularly important in the made-to-order and engineered-to-order worlds with long project cycles that spawn a myriad of customer interactions across a range of functions.
Elongated sales cycles are often the first hurdle, and one that FastTrack quickly jumps over. As customers communicate specs to place an order, FastTrack’s product configurator makes it simple for salespeople to enter customer requests on-screen, choosing from a range of options. FastTrack instantaneously translates this data into a real-time price quote, cutting days from the quoting process.
Once won, FastTrack automatically triggers processes along the order fulfillment cycle, from generating bills of material, purchase orders and invoices to product delivery and post-sale support. In customer service – where scheduling and component availability present challenges – service management capabilities within FastTrack increase on-time service, reduce costs and ensure technicians have access to the right parts at the right time.
Abell says it’s the integration across sales and customer service processes that makes the mySAP All-in-One solution so powerful. “In the SMB space, a lot of software vendors tout integration,” he says. “But when you get down to the details, they just can’t compare to a mySAP All-in-One solution.”

Leveraging suppliers and savings

Managing a supply chain that includes multiple vendors and components is a challenge for complex manufacturers who also want to leverage the cost-saving advantages of outsourcing. The right vendors are critical to keeping costs low and customer satisfaction high.
In response, FastTrack monitors vendor performance, revealing who the best vendors in terms of cost and quality are. This not only helps reduce the cost of goods, it identifies suppliers that can be trusted to deliver components at the right time to keep production flowing.
Automatic routing features within FastTrack also make it easier to outsource some or all of a process to multiple global suppliers. For example, FastTrack automatically creates POs for each outsourced component. Doing so at just the right time keeps components on hand and timetables on track.

Tracking prices and profits

Project management tools within FastTrack help manage the complex costing elements involved in any custom project. An integrated information flow throughout configuration, production planning and project management functions means costs can be tracked every step of the way for an accurate financial picture at any time during the cycle. This allows project managers to take action, reallocating resources to reduce costs and increase profitability. At the end of a job, they have a true, accurate picture of total costs, which is critical for future pricing.

Why SAP?

Abell says the merged strengths of SAP and N2 in the SMB complex manufacturing industry make the partnership a success. “SAP has always been a leader in ERP, and we want to partner with the best,” he says. “The amount SAP invests in R&D is phenomenal, giving us confidence that SAP solutions will always be at the cutting edge. The combined SAP and N2 solution gives complex manufacturers all the benefits big companies enjoy, but in a way that’s more affordable for SMBs.”
For more information on N2 and the FastTrack solution, visit www.n2c.com or link to: http://www.sap.com/solutions/smb/allinone/prepackagedsolutions/fasttrack.asp.

Susan Twombly

Susan Twombly

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