HL Plastics Limited
HL Plastics is one of the UK’s leading PVCu extrusion companies – a one stop buildings plastic provider – with a reputation for innovation, quality and responsiveness.
Based in Denby, Derbyshire, they date back to 1974 and currently employ nearly 500 staff. The premises consist of a purpose-built extrusion plant, warehouse and corporate Head Office, together with one of the biggest PVCu mixing plants in Europe.
HL Plastics chose to implement SAP Business One as they had outgrown their existing software and wanted a solution that could help support their future business plans. After considering a number of software solutions and SAP Business One partners, Frontline were selected to implement and support the new ERP software.
Data had become siloed with no ‘one true version’ of the truth
The business was previously using Pegasus Opera along with Pegasus Operations, however, over a period of 10 years where turnover increased from £2m to £20m, it was no longer supporting the rapidly growing needs of the business.
John Haywood, IT Manager states that “whilst Pegasus was fine when we were a small company, as we stepped up a level we found that pools of data were being created by different departments through various manual processes. We realised that we needed to consolidate all of that into a single unified system”.
With no centralised package, HL were experiencing operational issues such as duplication of effort and misleading information due to conflicts between different systems. In addition to this, although they only had 10 users they were encountering problems with database corruption due to the underlying architecture at the time. John goes on to say that “we needed a system that would be able to provide one true version of the truth”.
An out of the box solution with minimal customisation
HL looked at a number of different solutions from leading ERP vendors including Microsoft and Sage, along with Business One from SAP. When discussing the decision making process, John mentions that “we were very cautious about going down a bespoke route and then being tied into a partner. We wanted to find the closest fit ‘out of the box’ and then tailor the last 5-10%”. SAP Business One is an ‘off the shelf’ product with over 55,000 implementations worldwide which was a key factor in HL selecting this leading ERP brand. “SAP is exactly what we wanted. We now have a single view of the company across logistics, finance and manufacturing” says John. SAP Business One allows HL Plastics to respond quickly, with accurate, real-time business information. With the support of Business One, HL has continued to grow significantly with user numbers rising from 10 to 90 and turnover increasing to over £66m. John goes on to say that “during this period we have also launched a number of additional companies who are also benefiting from SAP Business One”.
An experienced partner with a proven methodology
Alongside Frontline, HL Plastics were also speaking to another SAP Business One partner. When discussing why they chose to work with Frontline, John comments that Frontline’s Connected Delivery methodology was an important factor, “Frontline’s approach and methodology for delivering the solution impressed us”. In addition to this, HL were keen to avoid going down a bespoke path with the implementation. Although there was customisation involved in the project, the tools recommended by Frontline were ‘off the shelf’ which ensured that should anything go wrong in the future, HL wouldn’t be tied into a particular partner. HL use a workflow and automation tool called TaskCentre, and a customisation tool from Boyum called the Usability Package, which enables SAP Business One to deliver a Return on Integration. John states that “by using these ‘off the shelf’ tools to customise the last 5 – 10% of our requirement, we have experienced the benefits associated with both an ‘out of the box’ and bespoke solution, without any of the associated draw backs”. As a SAP Gold partner with nearly 100 staff, Frontline has been supporting ERP solutions for over two decades. When looking back at the initial implementation and the first few weeks of go live, John recalls that having a partner with significant resources and expertise proved invaluable. “We had initially planned to carry out a phased approach, with Finance and SOP going live initially, followed by manufacturing and stock control as a phase two” says John. It soon became apparent that due to the volume of data and syncing issues with Pegasus, HL had to quickly bring across the stock to SAP Business One. John states that “we worked closely with the Frontline project team to highlight the issue and identify a solution, which was implemented and provided a resolution within a couple of weeks”. HL then brought across the manufacturing functionality from Pegasus Opera later in the year as planned.
Improved efficiency – Doing more with less
John goes on to discuss the benefits they have experienced with SAP Business One and highlights improved efficiency, “if we had carried on as we were, the headcount would have been significantly higher to process the same volume of work”. In the short term, HL have plans to upgrade their current version of SAP Business One in order to benefit from the continued investment from SAP in this software. Looking to the future, HL Plastics have plans to improve efficiencies further by integrating their demand forecasting process into SAP Business One.