Implementing Great Plains
ePartners implemented Microsofts Great Plains ERP suite to tighten costs and control inventory. At the same time, the company customized a third-party call center, Concord EFS credit card processing, and a third-party fulfillment centerhelping Blue Stuff to rein in its B2B activities. "On the B2B side with ePartners, the customizations we did was to bring in our third-party call center and migrate all order information from their format to our format, so not only [do we have] a customer history, but we can record the sale and have all that history, right from our system," said Grow. "From there we can send it out in third-party format; they can send it back and say, Here are the orders that are [pending].""Part of the difficulty [of the implementation] was the allocation of the fulfillment process," said Grow. "Traditionally, most companies have their own inventory and account for that themselves. We have to do that with a third party." Part of that process includes credit card acceptance, which includes going from Blue Stuffs systems to the fulfillment center to ensure that the inventory is available and then coming back to fulfill the order and allocate it in inventorya complex process. What was different for ePartners from this implementation and others was the amount of integration work, according to Dan Duffy, CEO of ePartners. "The amount of integration that was done was more than you would typically see," said Duffy. "[Blue Stuff] said we dont want to step back [from our systems], but we definitely need to fix this. One of the first things we did was step back and look at how we could fix the core financials, sales order processing and link that into the call center. It was a critical component." Therein lay the biggest opportunityas well as the biggest challengefor ePartners, which had to make sure it did the integration of the systems and didnt lose data. "The database needed to be rebuilt, so everything we did we put in a more robust system," said Duffy. "One of the problems they had was visibility into what products were selling and in what periods, what advertising campaigns worked well, and what drove sales. They werent able to get data out, and when they did, it was stale."
From the Great Plains suite, ePartners brought in inventory, accounts receivable and sales order processing on the accounting side. Because Blue Stuff uses an outside fulfillment and distribution center, ePartners created a customized view of fulfillment that accounts for inventory within Great Plains.