Cadbury subsidiary Monkhill Confectionery this month goes live with a mid-range preconfigured food and beverage enterprise resource planning (ERP) system across four of its plants, in a move designed to improve its supply chain management.
Monkhill has installed Lawson's M3 Quickstep ERP package, initially serving 100 users at its head office in Pontefract and sites in York, Leeds and Holmewood near Chesterfield. It plans to roll out the system to its plant at Cleckheaton in Yorkshire in June. The cost of the project has not been disclosed, but took just six months from the start.
Previously the company had been using the supply chain component parts within an SAP ERP system, which is standard across other Cadbury Trebor Bassett businesses. However, it was not felt appropriate for Monkhill as SAP is geared more to larger organisations operating across several countries and dealing in a number of currencies, says Cadbury Trebor Bassett system integration manager Tim Langlois.
"They needed a system that they could own and drive forward themselves," says Langlois. "So, we looked for a system that would meet the Monkhill business requirements; which would be scaleable, flexible and also of a size and a level of sophistication that would enable them to manage themselves."
In response to critics of ERP systems, who often claim they fail to deliver the expected return on investment, Langlois, who has implemented a number of ERP projects, says: "The ownership of the system is absolutely paramount. If the ownership isn't established correctly as a business and it becomes an IT-led project rather than a business-led project, there would be a higher probability of them not delivering." One of the benefits organisations have gained from ERP is better data consistency, which improves the value of data to the business, he adds.
Monkhill makes sweets such as Barratt Refreshers, Flumps, Fruit Salad, Black Jacks and Butterkist Popcorn, as well as various own-label sugar confectionery for supermarkets. The Quickstep package installed was specifically designed to reduce the time and cost of ERP implementation. In the short term, the benefits it will bring will be full transparency across the outbound supply chain, claims Langlois. In the longer term it should be able to cover more varied products, tighter production timescales and shorter production runs.
"One of the key reasons we went for the Lawson M3 package was the resource constraints; we had quite an aggressive time-line to go live at the end of 2006," says Langlois. "We didn't have the resources to undertake a traditional ERP project where you spend time doing the system design. So we thought we could get started that much more quickly."
Although a preconfigured solution, Monkhill has carried out some modifications to meet its own specific requirements. For example, it has interfaced the system with a third-party warehouse management system and provided connectivity with its electronic data interchange system.
"We chose Quickstep as we found a full ERP implementation too time consuming and expensive for our business model," says Monkhill financial director Simon Barber. "This way, we have lowered the cost of ownership of having this software in place by cutting implementation time by more than 50%."