'Accord transformed our business'

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That is what Health Store MD, Tim Ryan, says about the company's implementation of BCP's Accord ERP solution and Voice WMS...

The Health Store is one of the UK's leading wholesalers of natural and organic products to the independent health food trade.  Founded as a co-operative in 1932, the company now operates from a 75,000 sq ft warehouse in Nottingham, supplying retailers across the UK mainland, Ireland, Europe and into the Far East with over 9000 products, ranging from organic seeds, nuts and pulses through to natural body care, vitamins and supplements.

BCP (Business Computer Projects Ltd) is one of the UK's top suppliers of specialist supply chain software to the food and drink wholesale industry and has been a leader in introducing Voice directed WMS to the UK market, installing the first wall-to-wall Voice WMS in the UK food and drink sector in 2002.  Clients include BWG, Musgrave, SPAR, ADM Londis, T Quality and Creed Catering.

Aware that it needed to improve pick accuracy, The Health Store had been considering investing in Voice technology for some time, initially looking at either a middleware solution or a full Voice WMS.   As investigations progressed, however, it became clear that the company's incumbent wholesale solution was no longer adequate for its needs and that the project should be extended to include replacement of that.

BCP's Accord emerged as being most suitable for the business as Tim Ryan, Health Store MD, explains: "We realised that as a fully integrated warehouse management and ERP solution we could replace all of our systems with one integrated system from BCP which would make running the whole business far more straightforward."

The decision to invest in Accord was sealed by two factors – the introduction of a new Accord manufacturing module and seeing the Accord solution and fully integrated Voice WMS live in action at another BCP client.  Ryan: "Accord Voice WMS outclassed specialist standalone warehouse offerings and it was incredibly impressive seeing how the system operated as part of a fully integrated Accord solution and the benefits that that company had seen from its implementation."

The implementation

The 60 user system encompasses the complete Accord software suite from Purchasing through Sales Order Processing to Financials, Manufacturing and Voice WMS and was implemented in two main phases.  The first phase was the main Accord system where the company wanted to ensure continuous operation, switching the old system off and Accord on in a single day. "It was the most seamless implementation of an ERP system I have ever seen," says Ryan. "When we switched the old system off Accord came up live and we went straight into stocktake."

Once everyone was familiar with the Accord system the company moved to the second phase of the implementation – Voice WMS. This was done over the period of one week, starting in the goods receiving area and then working through the warehouse, finishing up with Picking.

The results

"Accord has really transformed our business," says Ryan.  "It's brought us into the 21st century. The key benefits are data accuracy, visibility, scheduling and efficiency."

Accord has improved accuracy throughout the business from goods receiving, to stock through to picking where accuracy is now way above 99% and, says Ryan, "Those errors which do occur are usually simple human ones which are often unavoidable."   Members (customers) have commented upon how much more accurate orders are since the implementation of voice, claims have dropped massively – by over 60% - and levels of trust have skyrocketed.

Visibility of data within the business is now much better.  For instance, in Telesales there is now confidence in the information in front of the operator to be able to guarantee that stock is available and also to upsell product or to sell substitutes or alternatives.

Accord has also transformed reporting in the business, "giving us fantastic ability to slice and dice data to show us exactly what we need to know about the business" says Ryan.

With the previous paper-based system people had to manually decide which pieces of work should be done in which order.   Accord now does this, scheduling work in the most effective order for the business. "By being able to see the exact quantities of work in each area, we are able to move people to the best effective use of their time," says Ryan.

One of the biggest efficiency gains has been in Picking, where "we are now picking more orders with fewer pickers than we were before we implemented Accord," explains Ryan.

The Health Store has developed a very close working relationship with BCP, who've shown they're very interested in developing the system to meet the needs of their customers. Through special interest groups the Health Store has been able to input into future developments of Accord, a good example of this being the Kitting module where BCP worked very closely with the Health Store to develop the module to meet its exact needs.

Tim Ryan concludes: "Now that Accord is fully implemented in our business we are delighted with the results and absolutely convinced we made the right decision.  The investment was substantial, but it paid for itself within just 9 months.  It's improving efficiency throughout the business, both in the offices and in the warehouse, making our business – and those of our customers – much more competitive.  Plus, it's scalable, so we're already seeing other opportunities to use it to further improve our business."


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