Walraven is a producer of smart product systems for the installation industry, with branches and factories worldwide. The organization wants to take communication between all those locations to a higher level by integrating data flows. For this, not only a good platform had to be found, but also an experienced partner who offers personal attention. Walraven has found that partner in ECS International. The result: better insights and fewer errors.
Walraven is considered a small multinational, with offices, factories and entities in more than twenty countries. The Data flowing between these locations must be integrated in order to work together optimally. This could be order and stock data and electronic invoices or simply a signal that a certain order has been delivered. Another relevant data flow is created by controlling the machines in the factories (manufacturing orders); the created data needs to be reported back for further processing. Finally, data must also be shared with customers, such as wholesalers. Walraven therefore started looking for a platform for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for the digital exchange of data, inside and outside the company. The main advantages of an EDI platform are the uniform, fast and cost-effective data exchange and its security. On the one hand, larger partners who already work with EDI ask Walraven to participate in this form of exchange. On the other hand, the company itself also wants to convince its own customers to take the step towards this exchange. These are often medium-sized wholesalers. In addition to the efficiency, the reporting option is an important advantage of EDI. Because data is exchanged uniformly, it is much easier to compare them. For a company like Walraven, this provides a great deal of insight into the entire chain. It is not without reason that one of the organisation's slogans is: 'Collaboration is sharing knowledge'. Niels Schoon, chief responsible for IT at Walraven, explains: “On the one hand, we have an ambitious digital strategy. On the other hand, we have technology that was becoming obsolete, such as the ERP. Integration was still in its infancy.” That is why he looked for a reliable partner who could help the organization accelerate that integration.
Eager to help Walraven progress along the path of digitization, ECS reached out to their long-term partner, To-Increase, a reputed ISV in the Microsoft Dynamics space. Among its many solutions catering to the data management needs of their customers, To-Increase proposed Connectivity Studio, a highly configurable application integration and data migration solution, built within Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain Management. Connectivity Studio was the ideal tool to help Walraven link their internal company applications and move data from their older ERP to D365 F&SCM.
To-Increase also offers an EDI module integrated within Dynamics, called EDI Studio, which enables users to automate EDI communication and support faster onboarding of trading partners, without any need for development. This suited Walraven, who had hitherto been relying on an inhouse EDI module managed by a single person. With adequate support from ECS, Walraven was able to connect easily with their many customers and providers throughout Europe and set up standard EDI messages within D365 F&SCM.
Although Walraven is a multinational, the organization is still relatively small. Similar EDI platforms from providers like Microsoft are too big and too complex. This certainly applies to a company that is taking its first steps in the field of integration. Only a relatively small part of Walraven's total workforce consists of IT specialists (still about twenty people). At the same time, the company wants to make major digitization efforts. Schoon comments on this transformation: “Although we are not a really small company, that does not mean that we have all the knowledge and skills for integration at our disposal. You must have that for the larger solutions, in order to build and maintain those systems. We are therefore happy to hire expertise, whereby our own IT team consciously plays a leading or directing role. We found that expertise and experience at ECS. We have deliberately opted for a somewhat smaller party, with whom we can create a growth model together. ECS is large enough to provide the necessary expertise, but small enough to create a personal partnership.” In other words: the scale of ECS matches that of Walraven.
Partnering with To-Increase for their advanced solutions and with ECS for implementation gave Walraven a good head start. Since ECS was familiar with implementing To-Increase solutions, Walraven was able to speed up the integration set up and configure EDI for their supply chain needs. And because there was very little need for development, Walraven was able to invest more time and resources in the ERP implementation process as well as for training their sales back office team in handling day-to-day EDI transactions.
Moreover, the To-Increase solutions offered monitoring functionalities that helped Walraven track the status of incoming and outgoing EDI messages, resolve errors, and make changes as needed. Connectivity Studio also offered business logic tracing that helped them validate data automatically during integration, which provided an additional value to their data exchange.
Schoon says, “Working with To-Increase and ECS enabled us to upscale our team in understanding what the solutions could do. Their knowledge proved useful in doing the first implementation and then to also build the proper documentation for a skill handover. So, yes, I see this collaboration working quite well for a longer period.”
The collaboration between Walraven and ECS roughly consists of two components. First of all, there is the internal integration: linking the applications within the company. By allowing them to optimally 'talk' to each other internally, data can be exchanged automatically with partners. The exchange is therefore faster for both parties, with less effort and at lower costs. The second component relates to connecting new customers to the EDI platform. Now there are fifteen to twenty. A relatively small-scale project, but successful. All customers were complete within three to four weeks EDI operational. Moreover, the implementation has not stopped anything: Walraven has remained up and running throughout the entire process.
Schoon mentions the advantages of the To-Increase Business Integration and EDI platform: “The processes have become more transparent throughout the entire chain. Many manual tasks have been eliminated. We have achieved the other savings targets. My colleagues can now focus on other areas to improve processes. Think of providing better support to our customers. Those benefits are a major boost to awareness of the benefits of EDI. But the adoption process has never been difficult for us. Everyone sees its importance and benefits. In addition, we have seen sales for EDI grow from 3.4% to 9.3% since 2020.”
ECS has still been involved with Walraven since the implementation and go-live of both components. Maintenance is purchased as a managed service. Once a month there is a maintenance moment for the environment. Then we look at things like: are the capacity and performance still sufficient, do data need to be cleaned up? There is a monthly meeting between ECS and Walraven. If something happens in between, the lines are 'very short', according to Schoon. He praises the involvement of the ECS team: “The technical experts are fully committed, even when things start to get tense. Then they really do that little bit more. It really feels like they are part of our team. The management of ECS regularly makes themselves heard, for example by visiting us. Even at the highest level, ECS is very interested in how we are doing. ECS regularly asks what else it can do for us. We feel much more than an ECS customer: this is truly a partnership.”
ECS believes that every organization should be able to have all essential applications communicate integrated with the systems of partners, suppliers and customers throughout the entire chain. That is why we enable organizations to make this entire process seamless and to be adaptive for future innovations.
Curious about what ECS can do for your organization? Check out ecsinternational.eu and/or contact us without obligation via +31 (0)229574331 or email@example.com.
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