Upgrade more than skin deep

When it came time for an enterprise software upgrade, Belvedere International Inc. wanted to the changes to be more than skin deep.

The Mississauga, Ont-based beauty products manufacturer is in the process of replacing its

enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with the supply chain and financial suites from PeopleSoft. And like any significant make-over, this one is taking time.

According to Belvedere IS manager Brahim Hoosein, the process began in November and is expected to be completed in June or July. By then, it will have a number of modules (including general ledger, accounts receivable and playable, billing. cost management, and promotions management to name a few) on tap when it goes live, he hopes.

“”We tend to like the big bang theory here: flick of the switch and everything is up,”” Hoosein explains. “”We are a smaller company and it’s just not easy for us to do it in phases.””

Hoosein says the business case for a new system was simple: it had outgrown the current ERP package. He estimates about 90 per cent of the application has been customized and it has taking far too long to generate reports or simply spewing false information.

When considering vendors, Hoosein says being able to buy a system that would not require customization was the top priority. He researched a number of vendors both first and second tier, but “”the majority of them would need some sort of customization and they didn’t provide a Web application,”” he says.

“”It’s something we can grow with. We don’t have to replace it in five years or 10 years.””

Dave Ruuskanen, regional director of sales for PeopleSoft, says the company can offer apps that don’t need to be customized because it has been adding features and companies have been moving towards standard practices.

“”We’ve had enough time over the years to build in functionality,”” he says. “”Ten or 15 years ago you couldn’t put a solution in place to satisfy the requirements — now we can.””

Ruuskanen says the promotions management module was a big selling point for Belvedere. Hoosein says it needs an accurate picture of how much Wal-Mart, Shoppers Drug Mart and others are spending. It wants to know thing like how well a particular program did, how much money was spent, and whether it went over budget.

Hoosein says once the system is up and running about 50 of it’s 200 employees will be using the system with the others to be brought on later. Ruuskanen calls mid-size manufacturing companies a sweet spot in the market, but adds global companies are using the same modules as well.

Sierra Systems Group is helping with the integration, but Hoosein says it is trying to keep most of it in-house. The biggest challenge thus far, he says, is finding the time to take the necessary courses from PeopleSoft.

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