IT reseller practises what it preaches

26 Mar 2007

Selling something to the IT market can often be a hard proposition even if you have the selling chops off to a tee. Belief in the product is essential and if the person selling doesn’t believe in it then the perspective buyer probably won’t be convinced.

This is why IT solutions provider Datapac has become readily positioned to resell Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Microsoft Navision) because it is using it internally, clearly a case of practicing what it preaches.

Datapac had begun to resell NAV for a while before it decided to utilise the product, so it was able to ascertain its pertinence to its business. At that stage the company was been using a system that had 20 years behind it and was beginning to burst at its virtual seams.

“We had been using the same system in its various guises for about 20 years so we’d a number of problems that had arisen over the past number of years,” says David Laird, managing director of Datapac. “I suppose it was issues caused by the growth of our business creating more demand for up-to-date and reliable information.”

Laird said there was a demand for information throughout the company around management, cash flow sales analysis, margin analysis, credit control and logistics. “As the business grew there was a need for this to be more in real time and be available from one single source. And as a business grows its ability to operate on the basis of informal communications diminishes and there’s a need for real information all the time.”

Laird says the company had been using four main systems that it had integrated and they worked within their own areas, which meant you could get access to information from one part of the business but not another.

In addition, there was duplication of inputs. Essentially the system was creaking and groaning under the weight of Datapac’s growth and requirements. “We needed a more reliable system which was flexible and versatile. We had pushed the previous system to its limits and had tweaked it so much it was not the product we started with and was not ideally integrated.”

The process of implementing NAV was made slightly easier because Datapac knew the product and as a Microsoft reseller felt it would be a natural fit for the company. So after having a long hard look at NAV it felt it was suitable and began the implementation process. “I think the thing that attracted us to it the most was its flexibility and versatility, so we can, within the system and without having to use bespoke software, tweak it on an ongoing basis as required and that’s a very significant advantage,” says Laird.

The Datapac managing director said another factor in the decision-making process was Microsoft. “As an organisation we have aligned ourselves closely with Microsoft in respect of the products we market so it fitted into that strategy nicely. The reason we do that is because we think Microsoft is very much the organisation of the present and future.”

As with any sort of changeover from one way of doing things to another there was a degree of pain involved for Datapac. The previous system had been two decades and become a familiar if frustrating friend as were the processes that went with it. Much of that was about to be turned on its head.

“We set up a project group that initially defined their requirements and timelines and we then set up a project leader and they defined the responsibilities across the business. After that a lot of meetings and planning took place looking at everything from financials, logistics, sales processes and all of our other processes. It absorbed a lot of time and effort. After that it was a case of preparing to go live.”

Datapac is now ideally positioned to sell the NAV system because in simple terms it’s its own best case study and has seen all the befits that the Microsoft kit brings to the table.

Over a year and a quarter since implementation, Datapac has managed to grow its business and hasn’t required an increase in headcount. “The first impact it had is we’ve reduced paper. Information is now available in real time such as margin figures, telesales information and customer requirements history, buying trends histories and so on. That’s now all available on screen and reduces the need for paper.
Laird also points to the fact that integration of disparate systems is not needed and the product is flexible enough to be tweaked from within without using other software. “We’re also able to produce accounts more quickly and have better analysis of our market segment. We didn’t have that before.”

According to Laird, another time-busting efficiency is the product’s seamless integration with Office applications and Outlook.

“Years ago you had to fit your organisation around the system. NAV allows you to fit the product around the business and that means you can do things in a lot of different ways. With legacy systems there was only one way of doing things. That is not the case anymore.”

By Eamon McGrane

Pictured – David Laird, managing director, Datapac