Expert Interview Series: Craig Jack, KONG

Screen-Shot-2019-05-22-at-11.11.55-AMHi I'm Craig Jack and I work at the Kong company.  We manufacture the world's best dog toys so hopefully you've heard of us before. We sell mainly through retailers, a bit online, and we actually manufacture our classic Kong products here in Golden, Colorado. We are a global company. We've got two distribution centers in the US, one in Ohio and one in Southern California. And then we have sales and distribution centers in the U.K., Australia, and Japan.

What made you decide to change software or decide to implement a new ERP software system?

So we needed to implement a new ERP system for a bunch of reasons. We actually run the business today off two systems that are no longer supported, both Microsoft-based. Our accounting system is Microsoft Solomon. And then we do a lot of the operations and management reporting in a proprietary system that was written by a developer on our staff that's based on Fox Pro which is also no longer supported. And because those programs are both old, there's a lot of inefficiency that comes out of a dual entry a lot of things we can't do in the system so we're doing some important functions in excel and ultimately decided that we really need to get all the information in one place. And even some of our customers were requiring things that we weren't able to do in the system today, or at least not do them easily. So we ultimately decided to implement a new Microsoft program, Microsoft NAV and now Business Central.

What made you choose ERP Advisors Group? How did you hear of them?

So we heard about ERP Advisors from one of our trusted company advisors. And the reason we were looking for somebody like ERP Advisors is we had actually implemented NAV in both our Australian and UK operations but were not happy with our implementation partner. So we wanted to get a new implementation partner. There were a lot of lessons learned from both of those implementations but we weren't really sure how to go about a good structured implementation partner search. So that's how we found ERP Advisors and why we decided to engage with them.

What did ERP Advisors Group do for you?

So ERP Advisors first came in to make sure that NAV was the right software solution for us. They interviewed all the key users to determine user requirements and then based on that they put together a RFI to go out and identify potential implementation partners that would be a good fit for us and make sure they were interested and really outlined what our requirements for the implementation process were going to be and then took it to the next step with a request for proposal and helped us down select and interview the potential implementation partners and ultimately select the one we're working with now.

What were your goals or objectives for this project?

There are a lot of goals for this project but a couple of big ones were with our two systems that we operate today, it requires us to enter some key information in both systems and we want to get rid of that so that we only enter the data once and don't have to necessarily reconcile between the two systems. We also have some pretty important functions in the business that we operate outside of either system in Excel and want to get away from that. And then believe it or not some key operations both in manufacturing and the warehouse where we're still operating on paper and then have to key that information into one of the systems or both systems and we want to get away from that paper-based operating system. So we're pretty convinced that we're going to be able to achieve all of that and some of the other goals as well.

What would you tell other executives who are getting ready to replace an ERP system?

So if you're thinking about doing a ERP implementation and a few lessons learned certainly from my perspective. The most important is to really understand why you're doing it in the first place and getting buy in from all the key business process owners. It's really important to not view it as a software implementation or software installation but really almost more of a business process engineering. And the key business process owners really have to buy in. The other key thing that I'd really make sure when I ever do one of these again is really to document upfront what your user requirements are. It takes a lot of work in the beginning but I guarantee it saves you time and money in the end.

Did the EAG methodology help you learn more about your company and what it would take for a successful implementation during the selection process?

ERP Advisors methodology really helped save the company but also helped me learn more about the company. I was very new with Kong when we started this process and these interviews with the key business process owners and even some of the key process experts really helped me understand how the company operates, where there were pain points and even things like nomanclature. Every business has words that they may use that mean something very specific to that business that aren't how they're generally used and this helped clear up a bunch of things that I may have misunderstood if we hadn't gone through that process. So that was very helpful.

Final Takeaways.

So my name's Craig Jack again with the Kong company. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen and I hope this was helpful. Again I think if you're going through an ERP implementation it can be transformative for your business with a lot of potential pitfalls so getting help is really important. And if you have a dog go buy some Kong.

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