How can the global organisations standardise their processes and IT tools quickly and effectively?
Synventive Molding Solutions consistently strives to standardize its IT systems across the group, making it much easier to manage the organization and support the divisions in each country. The most recent implementation of Epicor ERP in its subsidiary in India was done in collaboration with Mindbox.
Synventive Molding Solutions (SMS), a strategic business unit of the international Barnes Group Inc, is a worldwide leader in manufacturing professional hot runner systems and injection molding process control instrumentation. Since 1970, Synventive has consistently met the challenging requirements of all customers in the automotive, electronics, medical and consumer markets.
Remote, international standardisation
The company operates in many markets around the world. With a view to the benefits of standardization on a global scale, it consistently strives to maximize the standardization of the processes implemented and the business tools used in its local divisions, including IT systems in particular.
The SMS division in India recently used a local solution to support business management. However, the company decided to migrate to Epicor ERP, which is used in most SMS units worldwide. The implementation of the system was contracted to Mindbox, a company that has been working with SMS headquarters in Europe for many years, conducting various projects, including customizations of Epicor ERP systems.
“The main challenge in this type of project is usually the local tax and regulatory requirements, which force the relevant changes to be made to the system. Therefore, they are implemented by international teams. In this case, Mindbox’s experts collaborated with a team of specialists from India and the project manager on the SMS side was a representative of the Chinese branch, where the Epicor ERP installation had already been in operation for a long time. In addition, the entire Chinese branch supported the Indian branch, as the system implementation there was intended to be a baseline for India,” – says [Mindbox representative].
In total, the team on the part of Mindbox consisted of a project manager from Poland, two leading functional consultants from India, two additional consultants from India who supported the project periodically, and one technical consultant who focused on the preparation of system printouts. In addition, the project was supported by one technical consultant from Poland, who has been helping the client for several years and focused on creating several modifications to the system. Interestingly, the project was conducted almost entirely remotely – starting with the workshops conducted by SMS employees from China and ending with the configuration and commissioning of the system. The only direct contact occurred when a local Indian Mindbox consultant had to provide support and travel to the client’s location during the system’s launch and the first month’s closure.
The first phase – analytical
The project was divided into two main phases. The first focused on the initial analysis and preparation of the actual implementation. It began with meetings between Mindbox consultants and client representatives. The implementation was not carried out from scratch. The general workflow and corporate procedures were presented by SMS employees from China.
“The sessions focused on business specifics and covered all areas of the operations, including finance, distribution, and production. We identified exactly what the local variations were and what we had to implement outside the corporate-defined standard,’ says [a Mindbox representative].
Based on the presentations made by the staff of the Chinese division, decisions were made about those system elements that could be ported to India without modifications. At the same time, what had to be modified was defined. As a result of this work, some entirely new issues emerged. On the other hand, the decision was taken that in certain areas, there would be no additional customizations, as the Indian subsidiary would be able to do without some of the functionalities, and their implementation would unnecessarily complicate the project, cause additional costs and affect the subsequent maintenance of the system.
Many of the local functionalities did not have to be developed in-house. These are being provided to individual markets by Epicor as part of Country Specific Functionality (CSF). CSFs are out-of-the-box functionality sets that tailor the Epicor ERP system to individual countries’ accounting, reporting, and legal requirements.
Phase two – implementation and finale
The result of the first analytical phase of the project was documentation that included, among other things, a detailed description of the processes to be implemented, an analysis of variances, and information on additional elements to be implemented. In addition, the costs of the entire project and the time needed to close it were also estimated.
The project was carried out by Mindbox according to the standard methodology, whereby the system configuration takes place. Next, user testing and troubleshooting are carried out, data is prepared, and the system is put into production. Data preparation was carried out by SMS’s internal IT department, with support from Mindbox’s Indian team of experts. It was this very component of the project that proved to be one of the most challenging. This was primarily due to the large amount of data that had to be imported into the new system. The system went into production on the 14th of February, 2022, and the project was officially closed at the end of March – this was when the old ERP system was turned off.
“One of the project’s peculiarities was that SMS India had to work for the first quarter using two systems in parallel – the old and the new one. This was primarily due to the quarterly reporting cycle. The company wanted to ensure that closing the quarter on both systems would produce the same results. This was achieved, although some minor issues had to be sorted out by implementing an additional procedure. Since April, only the Epicor ERP system has been in operation. The closing of the whole year will also take place in this system,” – says [a Mindbox representative].
Currently, the system is working with no issues. All users are continuously supported by the SMS IT department, the structure of which includes the manager of the whole project.