South Coast Lumber realizes operational effectiveness and cost savings through implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations

Abstract 

 

South Coast Lumber (SCL) is a privately held, family-run timber business based in Brookings, Oregon. They are vertically integrated with a substantial acreage, operating divisions in lumber, plywood, and engineered wood spread over three manufacturing facilities. 

 

Despite the size of their business, SCL was still working with various custom green screen software packages that were built for them decades ago. These were not integrated with SCL’s financial system, resulting in a significant amount of business being conducted on paper. Realizing the need for a quickly scalable cloud-based software foundation, they hired SSNW to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.  

 

Employing Microsoft SureStep’s gated standard ERP implementation methodology with iterative CRPs, we built and customized the Dynamics platform, including a few select third party solutions and F&O Add-ons to handle the specific knots and flows of the timber industry. 

 

Challenges 

 

  • Fully integrate the interface and workflows of three core divisions and locations 

  • Provide a flexible, scalable infrastructure with limited need for supplemental systems and customizations 

  • Perform transformation while maintaining current operations 

 

Solutions 

 

  • Implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations as cloud-based ERP platform with customizable third-party add-ons 

  • Minimal replacement of existing third-party integrations due to heavy customization 

  • Train-the-trainer model for managers and senior staff 

 

Results 

 

  • Realized significant reduction in costs and risk. 

  • Realized shifts toward automated workflows 

  • Freed up manpower to focus on gestalt processes  

  • Through training, provided a competitive structural advantage for all employees 

 

History 

 

SCL’s custom green screen software was unintegrated with their financial system (Microsoft Great Plains) and required constant fixing which necessitated dependence on an two aging contractors. These systems required a lot of manual mapping and onboarding, with warehousing partly being conducted on paper. Great Plains itself was also a local system, requiring the company to pay for servers that they then moved to a cloud network. Compounding these issues, Great Plains was being phased out of Microsoft’s support platform. These issues meant that SCL’s systems required a complete overhaul, with many of their legacy software being replaced by D365’s readymade solutions. 

 

Software Plan 

 

While all custom green screen software was replaced by D365’s in-house functionality, a few third-party integrations were brought over. The result was a greatly reduced and better managed software footprint. 

 

Primary 

 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (F&O) 

 

  • Provides a strong financial foundation and supply chain management capabilities  

  • Provides a robust cloud platform for future enhancements 

  • Provides a user-friendly mobile platform 

  • Allows for better inventory management, providing a platform for handheld scanners 

  • Microsoft’s One Version services application and platform updates remove significant burden from IT resources. 

 

 

Third-party integrations 

 

Paragon 

  • Cloud backup solution integrated with Microsoft Azure 

  • Already heavily customized by SCL for management of raw materials 

 

BOP 

  • Asset management software designed for technical use 

  • Already heavily customized by SCL for management of finished products 

 

F&O Add-ons 

 

BizAX 

 

  • Custom software made in-house at SSNW, designed on and for the D365 platform 

  • Provides positive pay, check reconciliation, and unique lockbox capabilities 

  • With lockbox, automates financial processes relating to check payment, cutting down on delay and overhead 

 

Game Plan 

 

SSNW’s team was kept small and organized around Microsoft SureStep’s standard gated implementation methodology. This allowed for a clear, staggered timeline gated along well-defined stages. Within these stages, the Conference Room Pilot (CRP) methodology was used, involving users and Business Systems Analysts in the tooling process. The following chart provides a simplified view of SSNW’s timeline for the project. 

 

 

Toward the end of the project, SSNW helped create some basic training materials, which combined with our train-the-trainer model implemented during the CRP sessions. The project went live in 2018.  

 

SCL is currently considering a second phase, expanding D365’s asset management capabilities to include SCL’s manufacturing operations and so retire remaining legacy software that currently handle those processes. 

© 2020 by Strategic Solutions NW

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