Clodhoppers jumps on SAP bandwagon

Larry Finnson readily admits that business software vendor SAP AG is typically regarded as a large enterprise vendor.

But the president and co-founder of small-to-midsize business (SMB) candy manufacturer Chris and Larry’s Clodhoppers recently deployed an SAP software solution anyway.

The project paid off in spades.

The firm implemented SAP Business One enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, a product SAP says is geared specifically to the SMB market.

“Chris and Larry’s is a great example of how a successful small-to-midsize business that is competing globally, is making IT its competitive advantage to improve overall productivity,” said Jeffrey Watts, senior vice-president of Toronto-based SAP Canada Inc. in a statement.

Chris and Larry’s Clodhoppers make a graham wafer and fudge confection and have grown from a home-based candy operation to a 2,500-pound-per hour manufacturing facility in Winnipeg with annual revenues ranging from $12 to $15 million.

The SMB’s staff varies from 30 to 40, depending on the season.

As an ISO 9001 accredited manufacturer, Chris and Larry’s sought to upgrade and consolidate its legacy IT infrastructure that included an accounting system working part-time as a manufacturing system with Excel for shipping. “I was doing a lot of spreadsheets outside the system,” Finnison said. “We needed to consolidate under one hood and streamline and improve the ISO.”

The company went live on the SAP solution nine months ago. The product provides a complete view of business operations and customer activities, Finnson said.

He admits choosing SAP was “a kind of a gamble in the beginning,” but adds that the company did perform research and due diligence before deciding the SAP Business One product was the right fit.

“I’m a risk taker to get returns…I jumped in,” Finnson said. Chris and Larry’s is a competitor of companies like Nestle and Hershey’s, Finnson said, adding that the company wanted an enterprise-class solution in order to effectively compete. SAP has experience working with large manufacturers and as a mid-sized company, Chris and Larry’s hopes also to gain from this expertise and knowledge, Finnson said.

SAP recently unveiled the latest version of SAP Business One. New features include updated materials requirement planning (MRP) capabilities, enhancements to its financials and embedded customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities. A key facet of the new release is integrated material requirement planning, which gives small manufacturers greater oversight and control of their operations, SAP said.

The new system improves transparency in the company’s operating procedures and business reporting, Finnson said, and also streamlines inventory and production. “It’s completely suited for a manufacturer. It’s very unforgiving, which is a good thing. In the old system you wouldn’t find the mistakes.” He said the ERP solution quickly spots existing procedural inaccuracies and provides a layer of transparency and accountability to overall business operations and processes.

According to Bob Glandfield, president and CEO of the Markham, Ont.-based Innovation Synergy Centre in Markham (ISCM), SMBs should choose wisely when selecting a software solution. The non-profit Canadian advisory center was established in 2003 and provides small to medium-sized companies with technology and business advice and resources.

SMB typically are served best with solutions that can be quickly modified on the fly as needed, Glandfield said. He added that issues surrounding overall investment costs, maintenance and the level of complexity should also be considered.

Some ERP solutions deliver everything but some SMBs may not need everything, Glandfield said.

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