Virtual Supply (VS) is a national wholesale distributor with rapidly growing segments in direct retail and third-party logistics. Their corporate offices and 60,000 ft² distribution center are located in Beaverton, Oregon. Most of their employees work on site. 

 

As their retail and 3PL segments began to grow, VS realized their trajectory was being hampered by unintegrated software, which forced additional manual steps to small processes across their three divisions. Realizing the necessity of a quickly scalable cloud-based software foundation, they hired SSNW to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. Employing Microsoft’s Sure Step implementation methodology, we built and customized the Dynamics platform, including a robust network of third-party solutions that could handle the specific knots and flows of the distribution industry. 

 

The tooling of the F&O software formed the bulk of our year-long effort. We leveraged in-house customizations as well as Microsoft’s AppSource Marketplace to build an advanced warehousing module that shifted all of VS’s previously bottlenecked processes on to the Azure cloud. Through this, SSNW was able realize significant shifts toward automated processes and internal translation services across VS’s divisions, allowing the company to communicate more effectively within and without. 

 

Challenges 

 

  • Fully integrate the interface and workflows of retail, logistics, and wholesale divisions under one ERP platform 

  • Provide a flexible, scalable infrastructure for growing segments 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 

  • Combined in-person and online training for managers and staff 

  • Reorganization of warehouse facilities 

 

Results 

 

  • Realized significant shifts toward automated workflows 

  • Freed up manpower to focus on gestalt processes  

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

 

History 

 

VS’s accounting system (Everest) was not fully integrated with their Foxfire Warehouse Management System and Camelot 3PL. Since their systems did not automatically share electronic data, a substantial amount of manual mapping and onboarding was required. The unintegrated nature of their workflow also meant that the system could not be corrected in a discrete steps and required a complete overhaul. 

 

Software Plan 

 

Primary 

 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (F&O) 

 

  • Provides a strong financial foundation and supply chain management capabilities  

  • Provides a robust platform for future enhancements such as special price agreements and CRM integration. 

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

  • Allows for seasonal stock surges via promotional order batching (promo batching) 

 

Third-party integrations 

 

Value Added Billing (VAB) 3PL solution from BlueHorseShoe 

 

  • Highly sophisticated integration designed for Microsoft Dynamics 

  • Allows for automatic rate-shopping on delivery services (FedEx, UPS, etc.), choosing the cheapest available option in real time 

  • Scalable 

 

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solution from TrueCommerce 

 

  • Streamlines order processes, providing a unified format for all orders moving within the company’s software systems 

  • Automatically translates various order formats coming in, and translates the invoices generated back to the format preferred by the customer 

  • Simplifies and speeds up the process of adding new trading partners 

 

Tax solution (AvaTax) from Avalara 

 

  • Integrated with the Microsoft Dynamics platform. 

  • Automates tax calculation and filing 

 

DesktopShipper 

  • Links to online marketplaces to pull orders in real time 

  • Automatic carrier routing and preferences 

 

F&O Add-ons 

 

Special Pricing & Chargeback Management (SPA) solution built by Vyas Consulting, sourced from Microsoft AppSource 

 

  • Highly flexible integration customized for Microsoft Dynamics 

  • Lowers operating costs with streamlined management of vendor claims 

  • Automates changes to SPAs, significantly reducing manpower as SPAs are frequent and change through the year 

  • Increases integration by removing the need for spreadsheets 

  • Allows any one of three involved parties to initiate 

  • Speeds up time between initiation and implementation of SPAs 

  • Reduces the costs of resolving disputes arising from and related to SPAs 

 

Game Plan 

 

SSNW’s team was kept small and organized around an implementation methodology that allowed for a clear, staggered timeline gated along well-defined stages.  

 

The project was divided into two phases. The first phase dealt with the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics, TrueCommerce, Blue Horseshoe, Avalara, and Desktop Shipper. The second phase included the SPA and CRM customizations to the Dynamics framework. 

 

The project went live at the end of Phase 1, following which SSNW provided two weeks of technical support and training for warehouse workers. VS’ managers had been fairly hands-on in the earlier stages of the project and were already familiar with the system once it went live. 

 

COVID-19 Response 

 

The beginning of the project necessitated several in-person meetings with managers, and trips to Virtual Supply’s distribution center and corporate offices. Thankfully, the primary in-person work was completed before the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown and any further work, while completed virtually, was carried off without a hitch. The original timeline was extended by a month to relieve pressure on the team. Since VS’ corporate offices are very close to SSNW’s, travel was minimized for any necessary in-person meetings post-lockdown, which were kept to a minimum. 

 

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. 

Virtual Supply implements Microsoft's D365 for Finance & Operations to enable continued growth in new business segments.

© 2020 by Strategic Solutions NW

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