Magazine Article | June 22, 2006

Enterprise Software reduces Monthly Closing Cycle By 50%

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By replacing its 20-year-old, mainframe ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, this

automotive aftermarket manufacturer reduced its monthly closing cycle from 5 days to 2½.

Integrated Solutions, July 2006

With a 20-year-old legacy enterprise software system, Wiseco Piston, Inc. knew it was time for a replacement. This thought was further driven home when Wiseco, which manufactures pistons for the automotive aftermarket, learned it was required to be in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) requirements. “The system we had in place didn’t meet any of the security needs of SOX,” says Mark Chollett, director of technology for Wiseco. “It was one-layer security with one password. We knew there were features in enterprise software that we were missing; the SOX requirements pushed us to look for it.”

Wiseco also needed an enterprise solution that would help it better manage its inventory. Its legacy system was composed of disparate modules for purchasing, distribution, financials, etc. “We didn’t have the inventory visibility we needed,” says Chollett. “The purchasing module, for example, didn’t tie in with anything. It didn’t show receipts against goods and couldn’t automatically put orders into the inventory.” With the need for SOX compliance and inventory visibility in mind, Wiseco investigated solutions.

When Wiseco began looking for an ERP software solution, it started heading down the path toward a JD Edwards (now part of Oracle) solution. However, Wiseco felt the solution was targeted at companies larger than the $50 million company; therefore, the software had many features that Wiseco didn’t need, especially for the cost. “Solutions like JDE and SAP have tens of thousands of switches you can set to change how it works to fit unique business processes,” says Chollett. “We, as a midsize company, don’t need all that functionality, and frankly, don’t have the staff and budget to support it.” Wiseco wanted to find a solution geared more toward small to midsize businesses and eventually found it in Sage software, choosing the Sage MAS 500 ERP system. “Sage’s software had what we needed, and when we visited its site, we saw the company was putting a lot of effort into research and development, which was reassuring,” says Chollettt.

To manage the implementation, Wiseco assigned key people from each of the functional areas of the business that would be affected by the software. Those people were responsible for making decisions on how the software would operate in their area and were also responsible for training the people in their department. Wiseco worked closely with Sage’s development team and also enlisted a systems integrator to be an implementation partner.

Once the software was written to Wiseco’s specifications, the manufacturer had to find the right time to integrate it into its systems. “We decided to go with a rip and replace approach and just do the replacement in one fell swoop,” says Chollettt. “I didn’t want to replace the legacy system piece by piece and for some reason stop in the middle and end up with two systems running.” Wiseco took advantage of the plant shutdown during the three days between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays (and the four days for the holidays themselves), and the development team spent seven days moving the new software in.

Wiseco uses the MAS 500 to track incoming raw materials, manage inventory, print pick tickets, maintain bills of materials, prepare shipments, create invoices, process payables, and even organize returned merchandise processing. Inventory items are scanned at the beginning and end of the manufacturing process using tethered bar code guns.  The solution also enables Wiseco to mine data more easily. With the old system, getting data from it was a process that only one person in the company was skilled in.  The MAS 500 solution runs SQL and Crystal reports, so anyone can pull a report and work from it in minutes. These improved reporting capabilities have enabled Wiseco to reduce its monthly financial reporting closing cycle from 5 days to 2½. Also, Wiseco has been audited for SOX compliance  and was deemed compliant.