Polem B.V. has been making silos for the agricultural and industrial sectors since 1972. The silos home, amongst other things, grain, sugar, livestock feed, water and salt. The business handles all processes themselves – from the sales and construction to transport to the end user.
During a period of explosive growth more than 10 years ago, Ton Slagboom, finance and operaitons manager, realized changes were needed within their IT setup to ensure their growth could be properly supported. The processes for logistics, sales and purchase and for the financial administration where not well set up.
‘We decided then to look for a new IT partner. We wanted an organization that could think with us, that could advise us. A lot needed to change and we couldn’t get to grips with it completely ourselves,’ remembers Slagboom. Polem eventually chose for A.B. Software and the click was immediate. Slagboom: ‘I found that very important. We spoke each others language, and they really understood what we were trying to achieve. That fostered real trust.’
A.B. Software and Polem sat down together and decided that before new system could be introduced, it was first necessary to carry out a reimplementation. ‘We wanted to see first of all whether we could set up our processes more effectively in the current system. And, furthermore, ensure that the people within Polem that used the system did so according to the guidelines that had been agreed upon,’ explains Slagboom.
More growth, more challenges
In 2004 the processes were running largely as required. ‘If i had to give them a report gradew, I’d say we went from a 4 to about a 7,’ continues Slagboom. However, Polem continued to grow, the continuing expansion creating new challenges. Slagboom: ‘We grew on average at about 15-20% per year. How do you keep up with that?’
Polem looked again at the business processes and kicked-off an intensive lean improvement program – exploring how they could set up business processes for optimal efficiency and minimal waste. ‘Our entry point was simple – anything a customer is not willing to pay for, we shouldn’t be willing to do. And that also applied to automation.’
Time for a new system
‘We wanted to avoid doing anything that wasn’t going to add real value,’ explains Slagboom. ‘To give an example, every component of a standard silo had it’s own production order. All the piles of paperwork, all that information – we really didn’t need it and wanted to stop. The processes needed to be set up as simply as was possible.’ And that wasn’t the only challenge. ‘We didn’t have one central database, the system would continually freeze up, the project administration contained too much half information and we couldn’t combine our hour registration system. In short, it was time for a new system that mate complete integration of our business processes possible.’
Realizing total integration with Exact
Slagboom: ‘For us one thing stood out above all others: we had to have a totally integrated business solution. Payroll, projects, financial administration – everything needed to be linked together. Given that one supplier would be responsible for everything , it was also important that we could work with a partner with a major local presence. That makes effective communication much easier. ‘
For CRM and document management, Polem subsequently implemented the Synergy front office system. ‘The forms, drawings and other documents can now be stored and accessed easily in the front office software. They no longer need to float around the organization, being centrally stored now and easy to find for everyone. That really is significantly more efficient.’
Bron: The Biz Box