Since being established in 1989, Allied Modular Building Systems, Inc. has become the largest manufacturer and distributor of modular products in the Western United States. It is also one of the fastest growing companies in the country. Allied Modular manufactures, distributes, and installs what it terms "The Perfect Solution"—the most durable and cost-efficient modular buildings, offices, and cleanrooms in the world—for thousands of military, commercial, and industrial organizations.
Most importantly, Allied Modular is proud to offer an unparalleled product line and a commitment to customer care and satisfaction. The company's motto is "Service Beyond Belief" and its ability to deliver on this has positioned Allied Modular as the premier company of choice within the industry. With superior products, fast quotations, on-time deliveries, and factory-trained installers, Allied Modular can meet the needs and exceed the expectations of the most discriminating customer.
Fast Growth Often Invites Challenges
"Having a solution that supported and reinforced our business processes and desired behaviors was key. We're now able to use Microsoft Dynamics to shed light on where our weaknesses are so that we can react quickly to correct and strengthen them. It's also driving validation for and behaviors from our employees so that they feel confident in their decisions and equipped to win."
Common among most companies fortunate to be struck with fast growth, Allied Modular found itself running its business with 14 disparate software programs. This made it both challenging and costly to maintain, share information, and ensure data integrity. In addition, the company's technology platform was not very scalable or responsive to its changing business needs.
The pains associated with disparate systems spread across not only the finance team, but across the entire organization: sales, marketing, purchasing, manufacturing, service, etc. Sales spent countless, costly and unproductive hours trying to merge information between applications. Redundant requirements for data entry were skyrocketing; data integrity was poor and inconsistent; and the amount of paper flow issues was spiraling out of control. The disparate systems also caused issues with inter-departmental collaboration and communication, and resulted in major gaps in visibility over Allied Modular's operations.
The disjointed business systems and fragmented information flow were impeding Allied Modular's ability to meet customer expectations and deliver products on time. That is when company president, Kevin Peithman, started to ask several pivotal questions relative to the future of the Allied Modular business: "Businesses need good data. You can't run a successful business without it. And since we didn't have good data at the time, we needed to ask ourselves, "How do we run most effectively? And how then do we integrate software into our business to help us in that effort?'"
Questions such as these led to the search for an "all-in-one" business management solution. After having little initial success finding a comprehensive solution that would track an order from lead generation through post sale, Allied Modular contemplated the option of writing its own software solution as it had done in the past. It also considered hiring an external resource to develop a solution for the business. Neither option was compelling enough to outweigh the innate challenges associated with homegrown applications.
At this time, the company was at $10M in sales, with a vision of someday being at $100M. Unfortunately, the more Allied Modular was growing, the more problems it had. This was a critical point for Allied Modular. More tough questions were asked by Peithman. Does the company define policies and procedures that will lead it to $100M or does it simply remain content and sustain itself "as is"? The team's decision was to write policies and procedures as well as find a packaged business management solution that would support the company's future business growth and expansion.
The Perfect Solution
"We found an immediate trustworthiness in Tectura. They didn't promise the world or paint the sky relative to what was possible for our business solution. They took the time to obtain a keen understanding of Allied Modular's business processes and then shared what applications they believed would best fit our environment.".
While working on the development of business processes, the Allied Modular team started researching a few known business management software vendors including Best, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce.com, and PeopleSoft. Unfortunately, each application solved only one problem, thus not satisfying Allied Modular's "all-in-one" requirement. During this period, Peithman hired a new Sales and Marketing Vice President who was familiar with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Peithman was excited about the potential of a Microsoft solution. He felt that if his team members used Microsoft technologies at home, they would feel just as comfortable and confident using them at the office.
To learn more about the Microsoft Dynamics product suite, Allied Modular selected three Microsoft partners to evaluate. Tectura was the only team with the level of product knowledge and confidence to share where the products' strengths and weaknesses were. The Tectura team members were practical, realistic, and open, which Allied Modular appreciated. After contracting with Tectura, the decision to move forward in implementing Microsoft Dynamics NAV was made. Allied Modular was attracted to the level of adaptability and personalization the product would allow, assuring the solution would map to the needs of its business. This turned out to be a very significant requirement as the Allied Modular team made more than 50 changes to Microsoft Dynamics NAV almost immediately. The company's decision was also influenced by the scalability of the product; the user friendliness of the interface; the incredible depth of reporting and monitoring tools; as well as the integration with other Microsoft Ofﬁce applications such as Word, Excel and Publisher.
Building the Solution Leading to $100M
With the decisions of what partner and what solution now made, Allied Modular and Tectura worked toward implementing a comprehensive business management solution that would help the company strive towards its $100M future sales goal. Together, the teams focused on deploying a complete Microsoft solution that included Microsoft Dynamics NAV for ﬁnancials, manufacturing, and distribution functionality; Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration and integration to both ﬁnancial and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) information; and a new infrastructure based on pure Microsoft technology, including Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server.
Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM into the total solution proved to be a huge advantage for Allied Modular. Although Peithman realizes that the team has yet to fully harness the full power of the solution, he has recognized how much Microsoft Dynamics CRM can and will help his business. Not only did the application scale, it completely and easily mapped to the Allied Modular business processes. Previously overlooked or forgotten tasks and information are now routinely accomplished because of the robust workﬂow capability within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Everything is tracked and viewable, making accountability inherent in team members' day-to-day behavior. Customer needs, too, are better managed using Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Before, a customer would fill out an inquiry form, an email would go to the Allied Modular receptionist, then to sales, and ultimately get lost. Today, Allied Modular staff, using Microsoft Dynamics, can follow and track an inquiry throughout its entire lifecycle, communicating status and notifying key team members at critical stages.
In addition, an employee portal was built to provide remote users access to Microsoft Dynamics NAV, enabling them to check the status on their own projects and monitor key reporting dashboards. SharePoint also allows the Allied Modular team to store all documents such as building drawings, standard agreements, expense reports, and travel requests in one place. This type of collaboration toolset makes it easy for the team to merge documents as well as ensure a consistent marketing messaging is being used.
Prior to solution implementation, solution training began for the Allied Modular users. The ﬁrst step of training included installing a demonstration lab onsite where Allied Modular team members could test the installed software for a few months prior to solution implementation. Following that exercise, key users were trained offsite by Tectura. After a tremendous amount of information was shared by Tectura, it was up to the Allied Modular team to capitalize on the knowledge transfer. As November approached, the Tectura and Allied Modular teams were deeply involved in solution programming in support of the company's business processes. To ensure buy-in across the organization, Allied Modular management required that every department wrote its own test scripts, leveraging the support from Tectura.
Results Beyond Belief
"With Tectura, every day was a new, beneficial adventure. With their support and guidance, so many new business processes were overcome. They challenged us to make hard decisions, answered our many questions, and made us think about what would set Allied Modular up for future growth. That's a good partner."
Although a fairly recent implementation, Allied Modular has already realized some solid results with huge promise to deliver even more in the future. In the past, more business translated to more problems for Allied Modular. Today, more business translates directly to more profit. Before, the company employed 52 employees. Currently, Allied Modular has 41 employees and feels that it's more efficient than ever. The company attributes these results to improved visibility across the entire business, improved communication and collaboration among its employees, improved customer service and improved sales operations-all of which is founded on a much more flexible and responsive technology platform.
The Allied Modular team has realized how it underestimated the real power of Microsoft Dynamics. Not only is the access to real-time results and data incredible, it has given the company ten times the results they had originally expected. Factory and production rates are 300% faster than before implementing the business management solution. It used to take one-and-a-half weeks to complete an order where now it takes less than two days.
Because of the new business solution, the team has greater access and visibility into information and global trends, and can respond more quickly to these opportunities. In addition, the marketing team can make better spending decisions.
"It's not just data to us. All the information we're collecting out of our Microsoft Dynamics solution provides us with a true outlook on our business, while also demanding accountability and camaraderie across the organization. Every company striving for success and to become better needs that," stated Peithman.
Looking ahead, Allied Modular hopes to work with Tectura on including three-dimensional drawings of its buildings within the business management solution. This would require a link between Microsoft Dynamics and a three dimensional design application, ultimately providing the opportunity for customers to see what they are considering and/or purchasing. With still so much power to tap into, Allied Modular has very high hopes for its future and its ability to harness more out of its Microsoft solution.