The hydraulics company, Holmbury, have noticed a number of benefits from adopting an integrated ERP solution. Since implementing SAP Business One they have experienced a number of benefits, but most notably, better customer service from real-time inventory management and company-wide transparency over business processes and financials.
Deliver superior service from real-time inventory management
Instant visibility over financials and overseas currencies
One end-to-end solution integrating every department
Customised in-depth reporting capabilities
The Holmbury Group (Holmbury) is a global provider of hydraulic quick release couplings, valves and other components primarily supplied to the OEM construction and agriculture industries. Established in 1982, they are based in Tonbridge, UK, with operations in Ohio, US. The company currently has 27 employees across the UK and US.
Holmbury’s original flat face coupling design has long been the preferred quick release coupling solution to many OEMs, including JCB and Caterpillar, as well as being adopted by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to form the standard for ISO 16028.
Agility and speed are key in this market. Holmbury operates in a well-served market, therefore to remain competitive the company needs to behave differently to win market share and expand its global presence. Typically it achieves this through being smarter, more agile and delivering service levels over and above industry standards.
This is particularly challenging given that Holmbury has hundreds of product variants which it supplies to around 40 countries across the world. And given the high volume nature of Holmbury’s products, many of its customers rely on quick supply of parts, often requested against very short lead times.
With inventory in excess of £1 million, stock control has to be watertight. The team must have live visibility of what is coming into the warehouse, held as stock, already promised to customers, or being moved out of the warehouse, otherwise they face high levels of risk and potentially unrecoverable losses.
In light of these challenges, it became clear that Holmbury needed to replace its disparate systems with a single platform from which to manage the entire business.
As well as providing support for all processes across the business, as the backbone for the business, the system had to be incredibly robust. And crucially, it had to facilitate the agility to allow Holmbury to capitalise on its ability provide more tailored service levels, but with the tools and processes to run the businesses in a way which is akin to large corporates. For tight control of margins and customer service, clear, real-time visibility of everything from stock, opportunities, customer profiles and financials was imperative.
Holmbury had worked with Sapphire Systems and SAP for more than 10 years, and following an evaluation of a number of options, Holmbury selected SAP Business One via Sapphire Systems for the modernisation project.
“Throughout the deployment of SAP Business One, the team at Sapphire were rigorous in the way they set and met deadlines, ensured the right levels of buy-in and resourcing from both teams, and provided the right level of support on site to ensure training and testing could be undertaken in a timely and thorough manner. Their industry and product knowledge meant that there were very few hiccups and this allowed a great deal of confidence in what was a major deployment for Holmbury.
“Sapphire is highly professional and has always provided us with service levels which not only exceed both our own expectations and industry standards generally, but are consistent. Support is always available at any time of the day or night thanks to Sapphire’s global support team, and is always excellent.
“Thankfully we haven’t experienced any major problems throughout the deployment, but the knowledge that someone from the Sapphire team is always available to talk us through tweaks or queries gives us a huge amount of confidence,” comments James French, Managing Director, Holmbury.
Now live, the system is already reaping dividends, most notably across planning, forecasting and customer service.
Through facilitating accurate forecasts and allowing effective inventory management, the team is able to see what is available to promise to the customer in real-time, identifying what is unavailable and what is already committed. This allows them to dispatch many products for next day delivery, which is an important value-add and supports the efficient, consistent and reliable service which has become synonymous with Holmbury.
“The fact that there is one solution spanning every department means that any piece of information or document can be traced backwards or forwards through the system, offering phenomenal levels of transparency. So from a delivery note, we can instantly ascertain when the order was placed, by who and the journey of the order throughout the organisation,” James explains.
At a financials level, SAP Business One provides live margin information based on the current exchange rate in pounds, euros and dollars, as well as an indication of how levels will change as exchange rates do.
“This is so important as the import/export nature of our business means that any volatility in exchange rates has a direct impact on our profit margin, so live visibility and careful management of this allows us to forecast more accurately.
“All of this means that Holmbury is not only able to compete on a level playing field with corporate competitors, but in many cases, win business based on this highly responsive, customer-first approach,” he adds.
The intuitive, detailed reporting within SAP Business One is another key benefit for Holmbury, and allows sales performance to be analysed and benchmarked to ascertain which areas require more, or indeed less, attention and any anomalies which might need further investigation.
These reports are quick to view, and live, so the team can react to changes in demand or customer buying patterns quickly in order to stem potential losses or capitalise on uplifts in demand.
“Such is the level of detail available within the reports, that customers who have dropped off the list for some reason are highlighted, allowing the sales team to get in touch to find out why, and potentially resurrect the relationship. This level of insight and smart working is crucial as it not only differentiates us, but instils loyalty in our customer base,” James explains.
“With SAP Business One at our helm supporting all processes across the business – from opportunities, invoices, stock, financials, customer relationship management – together with Sapphire’s team of experts at the end of the phone, we are ready to embrace the next phase of our growth trajectory. We know that we can deliver the right products to our customers, at the right time, with industry leading service levels, while also ensuring quality assurance and automatic compliance with ISO9001 to maintain best practice.
“The system facilitates the kind of smart businesses which is needed to compete in the modern, digitalised world, and really is mission critical to Holmbury’s performance,” he concludes.
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