The Client – AC Photonics: Adam Schader, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Photonics is more than the answer to a question I missed on an exam back in high school, it’s also known to be a branch of technology focusing on the properties and transmissions of photons, as well as a thriving industry. AC Photonics (ACP) is a value-added re-seller of fiber optic components. Fiber optics is the process of using thin flexible fibers of glass or other transparent solids to transmit light signals to be used for telecommunications and computer networking. ACP has an expert team of over 1,400 members and operates at a global level. As their business size and operations grew, they were ready to move on from QuickBooks to a software that could fully capacitate what they wanted to do.
Challenges – Inadequate Inventory Management in QuickBooks
There comes a time for every successful business where they must upgrade, whether it’s software, facilities, or manpower. For ACP, it was time for the former. Their old accounting software, which catered to small to mid-market businesses, was destined to be replaced with NetSuite. Adam Schader, CFO of ACP, commented, “The biggest issue for us with QuickBooks is that we were not able to track the movement of inventory from purchase to the manufacturing floor. This was where we do the assembly, make the changes, add the components, and then ship it out”. A high caliber business like AC Photonics must have a thorough and detailed view of their business, and a change was coming.
Action/Solution – Paapri’s Services and the NetSuite Software
Customer service is an important aspect for any business, especially one handling pivotal changes like an ERP implementation. A company needs to be reliable, informed, and driven to be entrusted with the digital transformation of a business, and Paapri does everything in its power to keep to that. In support of this statement, Adam said, “I think Paapri is very customer-service oriented and I definitely appreciate that. I think that is a great characteristic of the company. “P” [the CEO] exhibits that and is very committed to making sure that the customer has a positive experience and outcome. So, I think that is key in the professional services.” Quality services and actions go hand in hand with customer service. Each are needed to create a successful partnership connection and ensure success. Adam added, “The quality of the people was great. Satish [the lead consultant] did a great job. The team’s contribution was very good.”
Despite our best efforts, and a successful result, the road wasn’t so easy, as we picked up some bumps and bruises along the way. Even following protocol and best practices, mistakes can be made, and they come along, Paapri will acknowledge and own up to ours.
Paapri Challenges – Lack of Upfront Discussion on Business Processes
An average full NetSuite implementation from Paapri takes roughly 100 days. That’s what we expect and advise our clients to expect – anything significantly faster or slower comes down to the specifics of the business, client participation, decisiveness, and the speed at which they can learn the process. The ACP implementation blew these 100 days out of the water, being completed in just 57. However, in this small, frantic window of time, the team was eager to “take NetSuite out of the box”, and following the setup was left with “no understanding of the company process.” The system was in place, but not quite adapted to the ACP way, which is the opposite of the customized and form-fitted solution that we promise.
As a result, we had to backtrack, and this time we really tried to understand how ACP runs. This allowed us to map out the optimal way to mold NetSuite to fit and optimize their business. Fortunately, Adam agrees that “once we got all that figured out, things went much better”. After some well-needed retroactive discussion on ACP’s process flows, everything was back on track and progress was made.
Lessons Learned – What Changes Has Paapri Made?
Our goal at Paapri is always to leave our clients satisfied in our work, confident that it’s going to be a difference-maker and trained to fully utilize the system. When that doesn’t happen, we’re not giving the full Paapri experience.
We’ve learned from our partnership with ACP. A quick implementation means nothing if the client isn’t able to use it to its fullest. Since then, we’ve instituted various protocols to make sure we have easily referable business information throughout the process. Following the ACP implementation, the team instituted “Alliance Meetings”. These four-hour meetings are between Paapri and the client. Throughout the discussion, clients see the fundamentals of NetSuite and speak in-depth on their business and its processes. Satish Jha, the lead consultant on the ACP implementation gives a brief description of an “Alliance Meeting”, “we usually bring the software [to the alliance meeting]. We sit with the customer and try to understand their business process. After understanding the process, we start the implementation”.
Another fail-safe that we’ve implemented for certain businesses is a detailed questionnaire for the client on business processes that can be referenced at any point by Paapri consultants. When completed it provides a tremendous view of the business for us to break down and map out.
With these two additions to our information gathering stages, we’re implementing more customized NetSuite builds than ever before. Satish believed (and now knows) that with this extra information gathering “we can come up with different solutions, have the [solutions] reviewed by the internal team, and finally present them to the customer”, allowing for a more transparent exchange than ever.
Results – Better Tracking and Reporting
After his successful NetSuite implementation, Adam doesn’t have to worry about where his products are any more. From the moment an item is purchased, up until it’s shipped, he can track everything. He’s confident that “there’s better transparency in where the information is flowing within the system. Now, everything is captured, and we are tracking inventory in real-time. It was a night and day difference.” For AC Photonics, NetSuite was a dramatic improvement over QuickBooks, as their “reporting capabilities are also much improved.” At the end of the day, we had another successful implementation on our hands, but the process wasn’t perfect, and both sides ran into an avoidable headache. It’s trials like this that have allowed Paapri to learn, grow, and implement more of its own best practices. Check out our electrical and electronics manufacturing customer portfolio.