Oil distributor gets slick with ERP

With an IT team of two, Wakefield Canada may have braced itself for a slippery ride when faced with the prospect of rolling out a company-wide ERP system in a short time frame.

With right planning and technology partner, however, this Canadian distributor of Castrol premium lubricants managed to build a system that improved its finance and wholesale distribution process.

One significant advantage, said Don Weston, director of business technology for Wakefield, was that the company was building the system from scratch.

“We were fortunate that we had no legacy systems – we didn’t have one line of legacy code we had to worry about,” said Weston. “We built the computer room, we put the empty racks in and started loading them up.” Wakefield now has 24 physical servers.

Wakefield stepped in as a strategic partner for British Petroleum (BP) when BP decided to exit the sales, marketing and distribution of Castrol within Canada. At that point Wakefield faced the challenge of building a remote office in Canada from scratch.

Wakefield has grown from a staff of 68 people to 110. “All of our processing had been done prior to the acquisition by BP out of Wayne, N.J.,” said Weston. “We had to take on everything right down to telephones – we didn’t even have a computer room in this building.”

When global partners are looking to grow their business in Canada, integrating infrastructures and application software for the Canadian marketplace is often the biggest challenge. Wakefield was no exception.

Faced with a tight timeframe, Wakefield turned to the technology experts: Microsoft and its partner Tectura. Weston’s team started the implementation of Microsoft’s Dynamics AX solution, but the company needed more time to set up. So, BP granted Wakefield the temporary use of its old J.D. Edwards system. That was up and running until August, when Wakefield went into production with Dynamics AX.

“Where they’re going to see enhanced benefits and where Wakefield will go after that tipping point is in visibility into their system,” said Wehuns Tan, corporate account manager with Microsoft Canada. They’ve taken steps by investing in SharePoint and InfoPath to move toward automation across the business.

“Where there’s paper processes, you’re going to see a transformation to complete automation,” he said. While many firms haven’t had much success in moving from paper to electronic forms in the past, he added, users today are intuitively able to use these types of tools.

Wakefield is also evaluating Microsoft’s PerformancePoint tools in areas such as budgeting and forecasting. “We’re looking at other integration strategies to get even deeper integration,” said Tan.

“Because we control the environment, we can now impact how we do pricing and how we process orders,” said Weston. Wakefield has created a custom business intelligence application beside AX so that all sales reporting is done through a data cube, creating consistency across the organization.

Wakefield also plans to roll out an application this September that will allow its territory sales reps to access its customer relationship management system directly from their BlackBerry devices.


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