It’s something that happens to just about any company that’s growing. Sooner or later, it becomes clear that existing systems and infrastructure—the things that may well have brought them to the dance to begin with—simply aren’t good enough to take them to the next level.
That was the situation facing the management team at North Brunswick, New Jersey-based Distek, Inc., a manufacturer of pharmaceutical testing instruments and provider of testing validation and qualification services.
Since founding in 1976, Distek had carved out an enviable leadership position in its market and had posted some impressive growth, driven largely by a fierce commitment to product innovation, design that emphasized ease of use, and a steady increase in international business.
But President Jeff Brinker and his senior management team recognized changes were needed if the company’s forward momentum was to be maintained.
Information that should be flowing uninterruptedly and in real time throughout the organization took hours or even days to generate and even longer to communicate.
And instead of supporting future growth, the systems the company was using to manage its business had become a limitation, with multiple band aids and workarounds that kept it from reaching its full potential.
“We were running the business on QuickBooks and several different Access databases,” remembers Business Systems and Production Manager Pierre Parks. “I was copying and pasting information into a ton of different reports, and double, triple, and even quadruple entry of the same data was standard operating procedure. And even after all that, there were some key aspects of the business where we still had very little visibility.”
A new manufacturing ERP was needed to support growth
Clearly, action was needed and at the beginning of 2012, Brinker and his team started looking in earnest for an ERP system that would give Distek the kind of technology infrastructure it needed to support future growth.
It was a critical business decision and they were determined to get it right. “We probably looked at close to 10 different ERP systems before making a final decision,” recalls Gail Rayner, ERP Project Manager, Accounting and HR Manager. “We took our due diligence very seriously because we knew what was at stake for the company and its future.”
Finally, at the end of an exhaustive process that played out over a six-month period, Distek chose the M1 Business Management System from ECi Software Solutions.
“We selected M1 mainly because it gave us the most bang for the buck but it also seemed more user-friendly than the other systems we looked at and more easy to customize,” explains Parks. “And with M1, we would be able to take our different silos of information and bring them all under one roof. That was a key objective.”
Distek signed off on the software purchase in March 2012 and, working with M1 technical support, they started getting ready for the switch.
M1 provided an implementation checklist to help the migration go smoothly
“M1 provided a useful implementation checklist but we also had our own project plan and a project charter that set specific return-on-investment goals that we wanted to achieve,” explains Rayner.
Those goals covered virtually every aspect of the business—from improved purchasing, receiving and production processes through to upgrades in delivery and customer service.
Also high on the list of priorities: better decision making overall as the result of greater access to accurate and real-time data; increased levels of employee satisfaction from enhanced business processes; and the introduction of new tools to help employees meet company, department and personal performance goals.
Distek went live on the M1 system on September 14, 2012, and, says Parks, the benefits starting showing up practically from day one.
“M1 had an immediate and very positive impact on our production department,” explains Parks. “With M1, when we receive a shipment, it’s seen throughout the system. Our purchasers can see when a part arrives in real time as opposed to having to wait until the next day like they used to. When we input new orders, we also see allocation to the parts necessary to build those orders right away, whereas before, we might have to wait as long as two weeks. And the reports that used to take me days now get done in 30 minutes with M1.”
But even as Distek starts to take advantage of the increased visibility M1 has brought to their operation, there’s a clear recognition that the company is still very much in the early days of its ERP journey.
“We recognize we’re not going to achieve all our goals immediately or even in the first year, but the message from our initial experience with M1 has been generally very positive,” says Rayner. “We’re confident M1 will get us to where we need to be as we move forward.”