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Midsize Company Turns To Process-Driven ERP System

Biotech firm rolls out ERP system from Exact Software in 18 months to 48 offices worldwide.

Alltech Inc., a biotechnology company that provides all-natural products to the food and feed industries, is greeting the new year by wrapping up a broad enterprise-resource-planning software implementation that spans the company's 48 international offices from Yugoslavia to South Africa. The company deployed a process-driven ERP system from Exact Software North America Inc. in only 18 months.

With annual sales of around $300 million, Alltech decided in 2003 that it needed ERP software in all of its international offices. But the company didn't have the resources to deploy an enterprise ERP system from one of the major vendors, says Tim Arthur, global director of MIS at Alltech. Instead, Alltech turned to Exact Software's Macola ES ERP platform, which is geared toward small and midmarket companies. "We set out to globalize our company by keeping our MIS department very lean, but we couldn't invest a lot of money into a [enterprise ERP] platform," Arthur says.

Like other midsize companies, Alltech operates globally and tries to bring together all its data in one centralized location. With offices in 36 countries, Alltech faced a major challenge tracking products on a global basis, especially products that had a long lead time and a limited shelf life, says Arthur. In the past, Alltech used 30 different accounting systems around the world. Auditors had to manually enter data into Excel spreadsheets at each office and send the spreadsheets to business headquarters, where the data would be compiled into a master spreadsheet, a process that took 45 days to complete.

The company now relies on Exact Software's Web-based business-process software called e-Synergy to serve as a centralized database to maintain control and visibility into each instance of Macola ES. As a result, Alltech can now generate a consolidated financial statement in 15 days, instead of 45 days. "E-Synergy does true consolidation by pulling the data in from all the Macolas, and allows us to get a global financial picture and report it in any currency," says Arthur. Such a process is important for a midsize company like Alltech, which has all of its international offices operating independently, but controls all of its data at a centralized location: a data center in located in Nicholasville, Ky.

E-Synergy is priced at $995 per user, and the pricing for Macola ES varies, depending on which modules a company deploys, Arthur says. Alltech expects to have the software deployed in 47 offices by the end of December, adding the 48th office in January.

It is unusual for a midsize company to get so many international offices up and running on an ERP system in 18 months, says Predrag Jakovljevic, research director of enterprise applications at Technology Evaluation Centers Inc. The secret is a "truly integrated workflow and business-process-management tool that allows users to achieve long coveted IT objectives--the paperless office, management by exception, and workflow as electronic framework to guide employees," Jakovljevic says. While most conventional ERP solutions are task-driven, he says, Macola ES is process-driven, which adds structure to processes that are typically handled inconsistently or manually.

Secure role-based portals, single sign-on, service automation, HR self-service, front office functions, event management, document management, and business-process-management features, such as those offered by Exact Software, are available in many leading ERP systems. But most smaller ERP vendors don't yet include those capabilities in their software suites, says Jakovljevic. "Workflow and BPM are highly complex and difficult systems to implement within most tier-one solutions, which was shown not to be the case with Exact Software's offering," Jakovljevic says.

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