When Ram Products outgrew its aging wholesale distribution software, the forward-thinking company deployed SAP Business One to transform operational efficiency, turn real-time data into customer advantage, and get ahead of its competitors.
Easy access to real-time data, reporting and KPIs
Stronger relationships with key accounts due to increased transparency
Improved warehouse efficiency to support accelerated growth
To increase efficiency and transparency through streamlined processes and access to reliable, real-time data.
SAP Business One
Founded in 1988 in Fort Worth, Texas, Ram Products stocks quality maintenance, repair and operations parts – from abrasives and cutting tools to fasteners and welding supplies – available for immediate delivery. The company’s mission is to differentiate its business from the competition through honesty, integrity and service. Today, Ram Products has expanded beyond the Dallas / Fort Worth market, with territories throughout the south and southwestern United States.
The decision to upgrade to a modern ERP solution is a big one, but not nearly as challenging as trying to make do with a legacy system than can no longer meet the needs of a growing business. This was precisely the situation in which Ram Products found itself in 2016. As VP of Operations, James Shotts, explains: “We had been running our legacy wholesale distribution software for almost a decade, during which it had never had any major updates. We had grown in size and complexity, but the system hadn’t grown with us, and it was inefficient and under-supported. As new issues kept emerging, we were resorting to manual, spreadsheet-based workarounds, which was making us inefficient as a business.”
Ram Products’ executive team determined it was time for change and drew up a shortlist of potential software solutions for evaluation. “Among them was an industry-specific solution for wholesale distributors, which has been widely adopted by our competitors. But we didn’t want to get stuck once again with software that would eventually constrain us, nor did we want to follow the pack – we aimed to differentiate our business over the next ten years. When we started looking into SAP Business One, we discovered that it would help us do exactly that,” James recalls.
“SAP Business One gives you the integrity and standardization needed to run core processes efficiently with the flexibility to integrate add-ons to do very specific things, so we were confident it would grow with us in future. We expected a degree of complexity and appreciated it would require more effort initially to get the software to work exactly the way we wanted it to, but it would be time well spent to position our business at the cutting edge of this industry.”
Ram Products’ implementation project took nine months from start to finish, including six months of preparatory work. “An exercise like this demands a willingness to consider different, better ways of doing things rather than doing what you’ve always done. We set up a dedicated team to provide the internal focus needed to manage the project from our perspective. I acted as the project champion and primary interface with Sapphire, which was pretty much a full-time job, but entirely justified. You can’t blame the software for falling short of expectations if you’re not fully committed – it’s your business, your operations and your processes, and you know them better than anyone else.”
Ram Products now has 25 licenses and Sapphire provided end user training to warehouse operatives and the field sales force, who access the data from SAP Business One via an add-on.
According to James, “SAP Business One was resoundingly the right choice and already proving its worth. We’ve gone from steady annual growth of between two and five percent to 15% this year. I would attribute that in part to being able to pull data so easily from SAP Business One: we can furnish our large, multi-site key accounts with accurate quarterly usage reports and twice-yearly pricing reviews, all broken down by location and period. By providing this unprecedented level of transparency, we have been able to engage with these customers at the executive level, which we have never done before. That’s been a major factor in strengthening these strategic relationships.”
“We can also monitor KPIs in real-time rather than just a snapshot of what happened last month. The out-of-the-box reporting covers our essential needs, but we also use Crystal Reports to query the system and get instant answers to business questions – in fact, we’ve now got about 60 saved queries that we regularly rely on. We don’t have an analyst on staff, so there’s a wealth of data with untapped potential that we could use to inform our business strategy. That’s why we’re currently looking at adding a BI layer on top of the data to help us extract valuable insights.”
“We also integrated a warehouse management solution with SAP Business One, which has had a huge impact by enabling wave picking, instead of focusing on just one order at a time. It typically used to take two people to pick on a busy day. Now, with the huge increase in picking efficiency, one person can handle the workload single-handedly, even though today’s volume is 25% higher thanks to accelerated growth. We’ve similarly transformed production, where we take items in bulk and repackage them into smaller quantities. We have visibility into which orders are committed, which are ready to go and what can be done later, enabling us to fulfill expectations more efficiently and make a positive impact on our customers. A further benefit is the rate shopper, allowing us to effortlessly identify the best shipping rates for every single box. You simply click a button and go with whichever carrier offers the best price. What’s more, armed with reliable data, we’ve been able to negotiate better rates with our carriers.”
“The most important thing is to find a great channel partner to ensure the implementation delivers on expectations. Sapphire’s offering was a major influence on our decision to choose SAP Business One. They’ve performed implementations across a wide variety of customers in different industries, and tangibly bring that experience to the table. We were very impressed by the quality of their personnel – particularly their technical advisor, who was key to our success. He sat within our business, listened to us, fully grasped our ambitions, and guided us through the difficult conversations. The answer was never ‘we can’t get the software to do that’, but rather ‘let’s figure out how can we make the software achieve what you need it to’. Their technical support is responsive, with their team working round the clock to resolve any issues. Sapphire’s full commitment to our success was, and continues to be, hugely important to us,” concludes James.
One of our team will be in touch shortly.