Employing over 2,000 people, AMCOL International is a leading manufacturer of value-added, specialty minerals and related products. With operations ranging from Minerals & Materials to Environmental products and from Oilfield Services to Transportation, their wide portfolio of products and services includes detergents, pet products and building supplies. Established in 1927, and now operating out of Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, AMCOL International has successfully grown to over 60 sales and manufacturing sites across 25 countries around the world.
“We needed to bring our different companies together under one system to ensure we remained competitive, maximising the opportunity of being a multinational company.”
AMCOL’s business challenge was its rapid growth through the acquisition of complimentary companies. This proved to be a winning strategy in terms of growing revenue and expanding footprint across the world, but it left the organisation in a situation where each country was running different systems and processes.
Specifically, AMCOL was running numerous different finance applications and many other operational systems across the business. As well as the escalating support and maintenance costs and the time taken to do any consolidated reporting, there was also the concern of non compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
AMCOL’s factories needed to ensure raw materials used during the manufacturing process could be lot tracked, so their origin could be traced should there be a problem with the final product. This lot tracking is the responsibility of the Quality Assurance team but numerous legacy systems meant it was a very time consuming and manual process.
Radical changes to AMCOL’s business systems were needed to ensure management information was available, easily consolidated and competitive advantage fully realised.
The scale of AMCOL is large, with many countries to consider. They needed a common platform across the world to share resources and experiences. AMCOL wanted to operate in many different countries embracing their different cultures and languages, and encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit that came with the acquisition of smaller companies. At the same time AMCOL wanted to introduce standard procedures and processes. “We needed to bring our different companies together under one system to ensure we remained competitive, maximising the opportunity of being a multinational company,” explains Jim Butz, AMCOL’s global IT Director
AMCOL recognised they needed to replace their many disparate systems and processes with one ERP application including an agreed set of uniform processes for each country. Butz goes on to say, “In the past, we have had a dozen different ERP systems and different accounts. The key is to standardise and expedite month end closing and consolidation.”
Microsoft Dynamics NAV was selected, as AMCOL needed a solution that could be quickly implemented and adopted by any new company acquisition. “Dynamics NAV was rich in functionality but flexible enough to adapt to AMCOL’s changing business needs,” says Butz. The product had the backbone of support from Microsoft, and this gave AMCOL the confidence of a robust solution. “Easy integration with other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft CRM was a major consideration,” continues Butz
Microsoft Dynamics NAV also supported AMCOL’s multi-country, multi-currency and multi-language requirements. This was essential to their business, and the familiar Microsoft look and feel made user adoption across the business easier.
AMCOL selected Tectura, as they needed a partner who could support them on their rollout from Europe, through to Asia Pacific and on to North America. “Being a global player as well as a Microsoft Gold partner was essential,” highlights Butz.
From the outset, AMCOL and Tectura’s project teams worked together to agree a plan. AMCOL’s existing processes were modelled to establish any possible gaps within Microsoft Dynamics NAV with Tectura providing advice and guidance on configuration where absolutely necessary. Tectura designed and configured Microsoft Dynamics NAV to fit AMCOL’s requirements and trained AMCOL staff. “The Tectura Solution Framework was used to ensure our project was planned, managed and implemented on time, with minimal disruption to AMCOL’s business operations,” explains Butz.
AMCOL now has a core Dynamics NAV instance, and this is used as a starting point for each country. Any local regulatory changes are added on top of this. “We let the local team manage the implementation and take ownership. We only get involved if we see something needs to be addressed,” explains Butz. All the different regions now have support agreements in place, providing a Dynamics NAV helpdesk.
Tectura has a good understanding of the AMCOL business. With global Project Management in place, the processes are known and the issues addressed head on. The global steering committee has regular meetings to discuss the rollout, deciding whether changes happen at a local or global level. “I’m confident that if we need something escalated, there is room to make that happen effectively,” continues Butz.
Tectura has also implemented procedures and policies to address version control and ensure all the different installations remain synchronised. It is a positive relationship providing a solid process.
AMCOL was determined to adapt their business processes as far as possible to work within the standard functionality of Dynamics NAV. The result is that AMCOL’s solution is 85% Dynamics NAV “vanilla” product with only 15% development. This has been rolled out to AMCOL’s sales and manufacturing operations in fourteen countries.
The organisation is now experiencing the benefits of a staged global roll-out. There’s been minimal localisation of the product, limited only to local statutory requirements. Butz goes on to say, “The core solution has been enhanced in a controlled manner. All work is approved by the business and by Tectura. Now when we talk about financing and systems, everyone around the globe will be on the same page, once North America is implemented.”
Across the world, AMCOL significantly saves time and effort adding newly acquired business units to the organisation. Butz continues, “The complexities of supporting the operations critical systems have been simplified and the associated maintenance costs reduced.”
By standardising the accounting structure it is now possible to do cost analysis, financial consolidation and reporting at the summary and account levels. Auditing is now more efficient as there’s only one system and the same business processes are used in each country. The organisation is confident it now complies with the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002.
AMCOL now has the framework in place to analyse business results, and identify opportunities to improve operational performance and monitor the organisations key performance indicators.
“Dynamics NAV was rich in functionality but flexible enough to adapt to AMCOL’s changing business needs.”
Both AMCOL and Tectura are proud of the successful roll out of the new system with uniform processes to twenty two locations in nine different languages with no major disruption to the business.
AMCOL can now implement Microsoft Dynamics NAV in any new location within four months of the acquisition. “We have comfort and confidence that we can implement an ERP system fairly quickly and mean it,” highlights Butz. AMCOL has the standards in place, and is happy with the direction and support Tectura’s providing.