The importance of unifying global operations

The importance of unifying global operations
DXC Eclipse helped a waterjet manufacturing company to consolidate its business units 

Rebecca Gibson |

This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of The Record.

Flow International Corporation (Flow) manufactures ultra-high-pressure waterjet technologies for cutting both soft and hard materials. Over the years, Flow has acquired multiple companies, setting them up as separate business units and retaining their existing IT systems – most of which were incompatible with its core enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Facing difficulties with managing its sales pipeline, inventory, accounting processes, and business and customer data and applications via multiple disparate systems, Flow decided to unify its operating units under one common structure. The company opted to upgrade its ERP system to Microsoft Dynamics AX, which required minimal customisation and complemented the other Microsoft technologies it was already using.

“The more we thought about it, the more we began to think that Microsoft Dynamics AX could be a game-changer for us,” says Jeff Zuniga, Senior Global IT Operations Manager at Flow. “It was a flexible and agile solution, and something we could use as a platform to innovate from.”

Flow chose DXC Eclipse as its implementation partner. “The Eclipse team really impressed us with its knowledge, experience, methodology, and processes,” Zuniga comments. “The team has such a large pool of experienced consultants who assured us they could deal with our complex requirements and give us what we needed.”

DXC Eclipse evaluated and redefined 100 of Flow’s critical business processes and built a design prototype for a new operational model. Then the team deployed multiple Microsoft Dynamics AX modules at Flow’s Europe offices, two US locations and one in Canada. The implementation was followed by additional roll-outs every four months.

By consolidating its global operations on Microsoft Dynamics AX, Flow has created a single source of truth and reduced the number of departments from 160 to 50, cost centres from 233 to 50, and charts of accounts from 10 to one. A single global item master gives Flow consistent inventory data, while a global address book allows employees to share customer information across the company and coordinate sales.

It now takes Flow’s accounting staff 75% less time to prepare month-end financial statements for its global operations. Meanwhile, critical business information that was once compiled manually from numerous sources is automatically available through Microsoft Dynamics AX to help with decision making and sales.

“Fundamentally, Microsoft Dynamics AX has changed our company because it has allowed us to manage our business with data,” explains Daric Schweikart, Flow’s vice president of IT. “From an executive standpoint, you can’t ask for anything more.”

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