Breaking the ice: ERP that powers global ambition

  • In association with Intergen
  • October 2, 2015
  • Intergen
Breaking the ice: ERP that powers global ambition
Now a fast growing global operation with offices in eight countries, Icebreaker found itself limited by its ERP technology. Icebreaker wanted a technology platform that would remove silos, fragmentation and a “cookie cutter” approach to processes, allowing it to embrace the future and take its retail operation to a whole new level.
Icebreaker chose Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, and Intergen as its implementation partner, to create a powerful “cornerstone” platform to underpin its entire global operation, drawing on core retail functionality and bringing everything together in a single global instance resulting in significant gains in productivity and competitive advantage, allowing Icebreaker to cement its place in the top echelon of retailers worldwide and realise its strong growth aspirations of becoming a company with a half billion dollar turnover.
Icebreaker had two key drivers in implementing a new ERP system: enterprise productivity and inventory effectiveness, helping Icebreaker to achieve its business objective of winning through inventory.
With a highly customised, unstable and inflexible 10 year-old Dynamics NAV ERP platform in place, implemented when Icebreaker was a business turning over
$2 million annually (now $180 million), technology had become a significant constraint to growth. Processes were often manual, reporting was limited, and different instances of the system were in use in different subsidiaries around the world, resulting in business inconsistencies and a limited view of inventory, as well as difficulties managing it across numerous warehouses. Shane Woonton, Icebreaker’s director – winning through inventory explains that, “This meant we often suffered from inventory issues that crept up and surprised us at the last minute.”
With Dynamics AX 2012 chosen as the ERP technology platform, Icebreaker set in place a plan to “bring four regional entities into a single global inventory pool and create a truly global business model with “centres of excellence” in place,” says Icebreakers chief operating officer, Dave Anderson.

There have been, and will continue to be, “numerous tangible and intangible gains,” says Anderson. These include:

Retail POS capabilities. As a 75 percent wholesale business, AX supports Icebreaker’s strong aspirations to grow its retail network and ecommerce platform, as well as integrating closely with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Inventory management. Woonton explains: “We have been able to consolidate global demand and create a single global pool of inventory which means we are able to meet our demand profile more effectively across the different pathways of doing business.”

Anderson elaborates on the benefits of inventory effectiveness: “This allows us to make better choices, to better manage our customer needs and to therefore deliver a better customer experience. Ultimately we will also be able to achieve revenue growth from a smaller investment in inventory.”

Consolidation of back office functions into regional hubs has meant the development of “centres of excellence”, which, as Anderson explains, “brings a number of operational benefits such as best practice and consistency and greater coverage for time and language. Plus these centres of excellence will also bring about long-term cost benefits.”

Ability to scale. AX provides a platform that will grow as Icebreaker does, both enabling and supporting aggressive growth plans.

An accurate view of the business. The ability to get a “single view of the truth” and derive real value from reporting, allowing for improved operations planning, better forecasting and allocation of inventory. “Now we can accurately project our future inventory position based on today’s view of supply and demand,” Anderson explains.

Productivity gains. Icebreaker anticipates that AX will help Icebreaker bring about 30 percent productivity improvements in its people by being able to manage overhead as a percentage of a sale, and reduce this overhead as Icebreaker continues to grow.

Reduction in manual transactions and processes, resulting in streamlining, time savings and the ability for staff to focus on more “value-add” activities. Woonton describes one example of this: “Previously processing our raw materials requirements would have been a week’s work. Now it’s a simple process inside the system that runs in 30 minutes as part of batch processing in the weekend.”

After an intensive and highly collaborative project journey and a “fast and furious” implementation phase involving a global roll-out across four time zones in four days – with all four regions successfully back to business as usual on the Monday morning following the implementation – Icebreaker is currently bedding in the system and making incremental enhancements. Both Anderson and Woonton reflect on the magnitude of the project and its significance to Icebreaker, as well as the importance of the strong relationship formed between Icebreaker and Intergen. “This is an absolute cornerstone of our business, and we definitely made the right choice with AX,” Anderson says. Woonton adds, “Intergen was absolutely professional, collaborative and calm in times of pressure, and their strong governance and project management ensured a successful outcome for our business.”
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