Those in the know, know that enterprise resource planning implementations are disruptive, risky and time consuming…
When Harry Magiros selected SapphireOne for Frutex, he wanted full functionality from the start, rather than a stripped down version with complex licensing provisions, and he wanted an ERP and Customer Relationship Management solution which would support the company’s growth ambitions into the future.
He also did so with the intention of only doing one implementation, allowing the company to focus on its core business.
Based in Sydney, family owned food processing company Frutex is a technology leader in the food industry, investing heavily in state of the art plant and equipment to wash and infuse dry fruit under sterile manufacturing processes. Founded by Peter Magiros in 1968, the company has enjoyed consistent revenue and volume growth and today supplies a broad spectrum of ingredients to the major industrial food manufacturers in Australia.
IT manager Harry Magiros has a somewhat unique closeness to the Frutex business founded by his father. “Prior to checking the market for an ERP and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, I wrote a custom system to run the business while at University,” he related, explaining a background in programming and animation.
That system was good enough for a decade, with Magiros himself taking charge of upgrades, modification and developments; in other words, he knew – and knows – the business of Frutex inside and out. That understanding encompasses a theoretical process and technology perspective, as well as the practical implications of running a complex food processing facility.
Magiros therefore knew exactly what he wanted from an ERP solution. “As the company was growing, we needed a complete solution with all aspects of financials, payroll, inventory, warehousing, logistics and more – and we wanted a solution which would keep growing with the business,” he explained.
Stability was essential too, and Magiros said that as a long-term Apple user, multiplatform capability was a non-negotiable. “We were on Mac in the days when Steve Jobs left the company and it was teetering on the brink. In the tech industry, you have to hedge your bets and multi-platform does that quite well.”
To his expert eye, SapphireOne ticked all the boxes. It also offered an advantage that few other ERP software providers can: its support and development offices are local in Australia. “Having been hands-on with the IT to run Frutex, this was a crucial advantage. With other ‘big name’ ERP providers, you’re not going to very easily speak with the guys who write the code,” Magiros noted.
Frutex implemented SapphireOne in 1999, noted Magiros, and doing an ERP implementation has turned out to be a once-off initiative. “With my background in IT, which includes being involved in technology sales, we’ve seen some serious failures with ERP. Some go so bad it can destroy businesses – so, we were very thorough in the selection of SapphireOne.”
He points out that implementations of enterprise software inevitably impact on productivity and draw the focus away from operational matters. “It’s disruptive to business; many other ERP and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, too, require retraining of people to do things in a ‘standard’ way. With SapphireOne, we’ve been able to implement and improve, but without throwing out everything that came before.”
What’s more, as a technologist, Magiros believes a complete solution is advantageous. “With SapphireOne, you get every single feature and often long before other vendors can offer it. It also means that you have the headroom to see how far the SappphireOne system can go in your business by taking advantage of each feature when you’re ready to do so.”
As an example, he pointed to telephony which is integrated into SapphireOne CRM. “Not many vendors have done that yet; it gives us a complete overview of all inbound and outbound calls. This extends to our cellphone users. This technology gives us an edge and is part of the organic growth with our customers.”
Furthermore, Magiros said that as a SapphireOne client, Frutex has a symbiotic relationship with the vendor’s other users. “As new functionality is added to the generic source code, everyone benefits because what’s done for one client extends to another.”
Apart from not having to implement ERP again over the course of the last two decades – which is an enormous advantage to any business – Magiros said SapphireOne has delivered consistent advantages for the company. “1999 was a long time ago, but the fundamentals of accounting haven’t changed. What we have seen over this time is that SapphireOne is very fast to update with changing tax and other regulations, keeping us compliant.”
An early move to HTML, continued Magiros, has played to Frutex‘s advantage. “That’s allowed us to do a lot of workflow with iPads and being platform independent, we could just as easily use Samsung tablets, or PCs.”
With 13 acres of warehouse, he said the mobility of SapphireOne which extends directly into the back-end is enormously helpful. “We do client orders, inventory analysis and stocktakes and thanks to this system, which combines mapping as well, we’re able to do a complete stocktake company-wide, in just one day – the same time it took twenty years ago when the company was much smaller.”
SapphireOne, Magiros continued, provides a level of granularity in the information it provides which is invaluable. “For example, deliveries are tracked live and are linked to invoices; we can see when each truck arrives, what it has delivered, and where the goods are. We can drill very deeply into the system, and very quickly move from one point to another to keep track of what is happening on the shop floor.”
For Magiros, it is all about workflow and eliminating manual processes, while providing an ‘information record’.
But probably the biggest advantage he’s seen is the ability to work closely with SapphireOne developers to get functionality that benefits his business. “I’ve taken my background in programming and systems analysis to grow and develop tools to run the company as needed. However, my programming tool these days is Photoshop: I design a workflow and SapphireOne codes it. It’s a process which sometimes takes as little as two days,” he said.
It’s a level of interaction with an ERP and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) provider which is almost unprecedented, Magiros said. “Even though I like to keep an eye on other vendors to see what’s available in the market, there’s never been any need to seriously consider switching. We get local support, having the team in Sydney is a huge advantage. And, combined with low maintenance Apple hardware, SapphireOne is so efficient that for 130 staff and 80 systems, I’m the only IT person we need,” he concludes.