Vallen Asia’s digital journey with Infor
According to Vallen Asia’s CEO, Andrew Bennett, Infor’s solutions have helped them handle complexity of owning and managing inventory.
To put this complexity into perspective, Vallsen Asia is part of Sonepar, a 21.6 billion Euros company, with presence in 44 countries and 110 distribution centres all over the globe. At least four countries in Asia; Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and China; have been growing from strength to strength the past decade under Bennett’s watchful eye.
This CEO of Sonepar’s Asia arm also expressed a wish, “We are trying to bring professional distribution here to Asia and try to control our own destiny.”
“In Western markets, the manufacturing industry is mature with professional distribution,” said the CEO of the integrated supply chain company.
The Professional Products and Services (PPS) specialist, which also distributes Maintenance, Repair and Operations products (MRO) and safety equipment, basically began in Australia with 180 branches. Bennett shared, “When we moved into Asia, this (whole) region became an extra branch, and we were tapping into existing infrastructure in Australia via a shared services model, because it was quick, easy and low-cost to expand.”
“We had the professionalism of the business without having to reinvent the wheel ourselves.”
Over time however, this became less than ideal.
“As we grew, models diverged from the Australian business needs, and there was no control of the IT system. We had become the other satellite (office)… out of sight, out of mind,” Bennett said.
For example, wanting to configure ERP a certain way to suit customer requirements that kept evolving differently in this region from Australia. “We couldn’t do it because we were just the end customer and they were the 800-lb gorilla,” Bennett said.
From this, came the realisation that they had to take control of their own destiny. This was the key driver for Vallen’s change as they moved forward
Change for Vallen meant migrating away from the heavily modified on-premise version of Infor’s ERP solution to Infor’s Cloud Suite 13.4.
“From the change management point-of-view, that was a smaller leap, because we already knew the product. We were using one turnkey service provider that happened to be the technology principal, Infor.
A side-by-side comparison of before and after, from using an in-house shared service centre that fully billed, to a fully SaaS model, revealed that Vallen was saving 30-percent on their IT cost.
But cost savings wasn’t the main driver.
After the first phase, a 12-months implementation across four countries to get the foundation pieces in place, Bennett noticed considerable improvements in speed.
“Latency going through all the infrastructure was considerable in the past, but (with SaaS model) and an AWS cloud in Singapore, the faster speed is noticeable.”
The CEO shared that they had selected Infor because the continuity it enabled. “Our people are familiar and comfortable with Infor M3, change management was less.
“Secondly, I think we understood and agree with the vision that Infor put forward with CloudSuite which isn’t just ERP but CRM, BI and others. This aligns with us.”
The third reason was the extensibility feature that Infor offered. Vallen aims to go into a multi-tenant, public cloud with a vanilla version of ERP. On the multi-tenant cloud, Vallen would be able to take advantage of auto-updates to the latest versions.
A precondition of leveraging Infor’s extensibility platform, is to be as vanilla as possible ad Bennett admitted that they have sacrificed a few business processes by doing so but also added, “It’s a good time us for us to do it. It’s a good foundational thing to do.”
According to him, with CloudSuite in place they are able to digitise as much as possible ie. using optical character recognition (OCR) in accounts receivables processes.
“Now, we are looking at deploying a digital hub for customers, with single sign-on and the same look and feel… and this is possible because of phase one,” Bennett concluded.