Blytheco client WillowWood is an industry leader in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of prosthetic products, including the Alpha® family of liners, the LimbLogic® elevated vacuum system, and the OMEGA® CAD system. Based in located in Mt. Sterling, Ohio, they are a longtime Sage Software user who recently switched to Sage X3. We recently sat down with Jeffry Tadlock, the Director of IT to discuss how this manufacturing company’s changing needs dictated a change in their software strategy.
Please share a little about your role at WillowWood.
I am the Director of IT. My job entails ensuring we facilitate the right dialogs across the company so that our technology supports our business goals. I help to identify gaps in our existing system, make recommendations on how we can best address them, and support our infrastructure on a daily basis.
What was the core software WillowWood was utilizing and how long did you use it?
We previously used Sage 500 for 11 years.
What were some signs that your software needed to be updated?
One indicator for me was the road map of the existing ERP. It seemed like each year, less and less forward-looking features were rolled. Technology is moving faster and it didn’t feel as though our ERP was keeping pace. I also wasn’t a fan of the programming language. By and large, I could clearly see it was going to become more difficult to continue using going forward from a technology perspective.
What were some triggers from your Executive team that it was time to make a change?
It seemed to them like the ERP system was inflexible. They want to see different reporting capabilities and other functionality and we couldn’t make those changes in the software. That was a big indicator that it was time to explore other options.
What were some other challenges your team experienced?
Our users found the program cumbersome to work with; many complained of simple tasks requiring a lot of clicks or steps to complete. It would be particular frustrating if they had a customer on the phone and was trying to help them quickly. Our shipping process became quite painful as we started to grow. We couldn’t solve some fundamental issues within the current software.
How did you go about selecting a partner to help you make this important transition?
Honestly, it was web presence. Whenever I researched Sage 500 to try and solve our issues, Blytheco’s information always come up. It was always helpful, so I began to familiarize myself with the company. Then we learned about Sage X3. Our existing partner couldn’t advise us on X3 and we wanted to work with a company who was up to date with Sage’s solutions. So we reached out to Blytheco.
How involved was WillowWood’s team in determining your new software requirements?
We have had a high-level of involvement and input from the entire team. From an IT perspective, my department knows technology but we also needed all departments to come to the table to help us build requirements from their unique perspectives. We asked the key stakeholders what short comings they saw in the old system and what they wanted to see in the new one. We received feedback from customer care, marketing, operations and accounting. We looked at it as a company project, not just an IT project.
What steps did you take in evaluating software?
Early on, we did a little process mapping of the major pieces of the organization. We clearly defined workflows from each department so we could ensure everyone’s needs were met. We began looking at some f the bigger players in the ERP market and reached out to a few.
What we liked about Blytheco’s approach was that they took an agnostic approach and didn’t try to prescribe any particular solution. They truly helped us evaluate multiple options that would truly service all our needs. We then narrowed our selection to two solutions. We then had about three to five demonstrations of various sections of the software (with all of the stakeholders in the room). To make our determination, we looked at:
- the quality of solution and if it could meet our needs.
- the quality of answers Blytheco provided to our questions.
- whether our vendor had our best interests at heart and was not forcing their own agenda or just telling us “YES” to get our business.
We then convened and discussed everyone’s feelings and determined Sage X3 and Blytheco were the best choice.
Prior to making your final selection, you opted for a paid scoping engagement with Blytheco. Why did you feel that was a good step for Willow Wood?
One of the big things we really valued was Blytheco’s in-depth approach. We want to get a better understanding and guidance on how we could improve and standardize our processes as we were changing one system to another. We wanted to get that deep dive prior to purchasing the software to ensure our implementation would be successful.
The engagement helped us understand potential “gotcha’s” and we were able to scope the project appropriately. It revealed some areas of weakness and where we needed third party solutions well in advance of the final pricing so we were not surprised at the total cost of the solution.
How do you predict your switching to Sage X3 will change the future of WillowWood?
This is huge for us. We used to have a lot of custom software in place. Now, we have bridged some gaps, and have a more, all-inclusive system. This will help with our entire flow of our manufacturing systems to customer service; every department can now intelligently talk to each other.
With all of our critical information under one umbrella, planning and decision making is more accurate. We have a tighter grip on materials, costs, and planning. We are also looking forward to the future development of the Sage X3 product. Making the switch now has given us a modern technology foundation to work from so we can be responsive and agile as we focus on growth areas in our business that really need our help instead of being encumbered with lack of basic functionality in our software.
Reprinted from the Summer 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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