Wood products and real estate corporation reworks entire software stack to keep pace with recent business restructuring and plans for expansion

Introduction

Established in 1903, the Potlatch Corporation (now PotlatchDeltic since 2018) is a vertically integrated Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) that owns nearly 1.9 million acres of timberland in the American Midwest. Through a spun off subsidiary, Potlatch also employs close to 5,000 people operating sawmills, an industrial-grade plywood mill, a residential and commercial real estate development business, and a rural timberland sales program. A leader in sustainable forest practices, they pride themselves on their ability to meet the rigorous standards of the Forest Stewardship Council while maximizing profit on every acre used.

By 2008, Potlatch had just recently established themselves as an REIT and spun off their manufacturing businesses into an independent company named Clearwater Paper Co. They were well-positioned to expand, but were held back by unscalable legacy systems that required large amounts of hands-on IT maintenance on a day-to-day basis.

In 2009, Potlatch approached SSNW to build a new project management tool (PMT) along with a few software modifications to manage data and common practices across their Midwest locations. During our assessment, we found that Potlatch would benefit greatly from larger changes to their software, processes, and workflow. To wit, we proposed replacing their legacy ERP software, consolidating workflows, reducing unnecessary third-party applications, and generally streamlining not only the reporting process but process across the board.

Challenges

  • Work within a small time frame

  • Perform transformations while maintaining current operations

  • Re-train business users on the new software stack

Solutions

  • Implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009

  • Creation of custom project management tool (PMT) integrated with Dynamics AX

  • Re-implementation of necessary third-party solutions

  • Reduction of IT maintenance staff and reorganization of IT structure

Results

  • Reduced IT maintenance from a full team of FTEs to one part-time analyst

  • Lowered high costs of operating and maintaining JD Edwards.

  • Realized a consolidated platform with easier integration for future reporting needs. 

  • Provided continued support for over ten years at a fraction of the cost of maintaining previous processes and workflows

History 

Potlatch was in dire need of better tools to develop annual budgets and quarterly forecasts. They were using spreadsheets and custom databases, with different processes used in different locations. The manual work alone required a tremendous amount of time and effort, and produced numerous errors that further slowed down accurate reporting and therefore the business’s ability to respond to changes.

As SSNW completed its assessment, we realized that replacing Potlatch’s legacy JD Edwards system with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 could reduce their yearly software costs by a tremendous amount, and would allow us to streamlining their application portfolio while retraining staff, giving them a competitive edge.

Software

Primary

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009

  • Provides a strong financial foundation and supply chain management capabilities

  • Provides a robust platform for future enhancements

  • Uses Role Center business intelligence for charts and reports

  • Does not require any supplemental systems for security

Third-party applications

Custom PMT solution

  • Allows for the eview of up-to-the-minute financial data to compare with forecast and budget

  • Integrates with Dynamics AX interface to simplify future forecast and planning

  • Use different scenarios for automatic budget uploads that integrate with the general ledger 

Lumbertrack

  • Tracks lumber inventory from log yard, to mill, and reload yard

  • Improves accuracy, efficiency, and responsiveness for customer service 

  • Analyzes and optimizes operations to reduce costs and maximize return on inventory investment

  • Accelerate sales with real-time visibility into demand and production

Cengea

  • Spatially-enabled business operations and supply chain management software for the forestry, agriculture and natural resource industries

  • Operational data can be integrated with maps and other spatial data to provide a complete perspective on activities and costs

DaxEAM

  • Enterprise asset maintenance solution that manages the complete asset life cycle

  • Integrates with Dynamics AX’s back office ERP functions and user interface

  • Provides the user with a single point of data entry, single source of records for vendors, inventory, assets 

Game Plan

SSNW built the new project management tool (PMT) along with a few software modifications to manage data and common practices within 8 weeks. After our initial assessment, we proposed replacing their legacy ERP software, consolidating workflows, reducing unnecessary third-party applications, and generally streamlining not only the reporting process but process across the board. Over the next several months we revamped the processes for requisitions, purchase orders, and storeroom inventory. We implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, consolidating the company’s software stack while re-implementing essential third-party applications only where necessary.

 

 

 

Strategic Solutions NW

 

Strategic Solutions NW is a tight-knit tech and management company headquartered in Beaverton, OR with clients around the world. A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, we specialize in integrated software implementation and recovery, approaching every solution with a business-wide approach. Our repertoire includes creating and managing accounts software for 500 million dollar manufacturers, specialized forest product experience, and longstanding partnerships with a swathe of major software vendors. Led by three partners with decades of experience in software and business solutions, we approach each client with a long-term relationship in mind, providing continued support and communication beyond project timelines.