Botanix is a rapidly growing force with a long history within the brewing industry, specialising in the extraction and processing of hops, and the creation of both traditional and advanced hop products for the brewing industry. The UK-based company is located at two sites, Paddock Wood in Kent and Eardiston in Worcester. The two operating units are the result of the merger of their holding companies, and are maximising the benefits of making them centres of technical excellence for downstream product support, manufacturing and innovation.
Botanix has aims to provide value to their brewery customers by supplying products that improve hop utilisation and beer consistency. Botanix has developed a unique range of natural products based on hop extracts that can be used to create new flavours for beers.
The promising growth trend combined with the realisation that the two sites had different working practices, led the Botanix management team to question the suitability of their computer systems. The previous system, whilst providing adequate financial management information, was not an integrated system. In order to run the business effectively, much use of ad-hoc spreadsheets was made and management information to aid decision making was rudimentary.
David Lowe, Business Systems Manager at Botanix, explains what happened, “The two sites were working in different ways on a very finance-focused proprietary data management system. There was no customer-based information or manufacturing-based data to help understand and manage the growth.” There was no single business driver for changing the software, just a knowledge that sooner or later, a better, more integrated system would be required. The management team knew that there was more scope for doing true cost accounting and manufacturing costing, and an underlying need to have consistency across the two manufacturing locations.
Botanix is a part of the Barth Haas Group, where parts of the Group already use Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Although not mandatory, this was a logical place to start researching new systems, as there was a level of experience in the implementation and use of Microsoft Dynamics NAV as a solution.
The choice was not a foregone conclusion as Botanix was very keen to ensure that the product chosen met its needs fully. Differences in the products offered and manufacturing processes used highlighted Botanix’s need for a robust system capable of lot management and traceability, managing the active ingredient reporting requirements of the business.
“We needed a system that our teams could readily adapt to, and crucially, we needed a partner with the resource to help us manage this implementation.”
Armed with the knowledge that Microsoft Dynamics NAV could probably do most of what they needed, Botanix turned to the approved Microsoft partner list for a suitable source of consultancy to help them resolve the remaining process-specific requirements. Tectura’s name was selected, and from the outset, Tectura impressed the Botanix team with their approach, knowledge and versatility. Lowe has nothing but praise for Tectura and goes on to say, “In less than 24 hours from initial contact, Tectura had organised an initial meeting with us at Botanix. They demonstrated that the sales team were able to talk generally about the product, and had organised in-depth backup from their expertise in America. This was handled by webcast.”
To add to the already-favourable first impression, Tectura talked about their Life Sciences add-on to Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which filled the gaps that Microsoft Dynamics NAV has in this area, particularly in the lot tracking and reporting capabilities.
Following an in-depth demonstration of the Tectura Life Sciences module and its full integration with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Botanix was able to sign up for an implementation project. Lowe enthuses, “Tectura showed themselves to be extremely organised and well-resourced. The consultants were just fantastic, achieving a very quick appreciation for our unique operations. Their knowledge base is very accessible.” This selection and engagement happened within one month of the initial call.
Botanix CEO, John Moss who had worked with other ERP systems in his previous roles, was a strong advocate of getting an integrated system in place. Moss explained, “Far too much management time was taken up in finding and collating information that should have been readily available. An integrated system was definitely required, and SAP would be too big and cumbersome for our needs.”
Learning to work with an integrated system would be a big challenge for Botanix, and the more user friendly the interface was, then the more cost effective, easier and quicker the implementation would be. “We needed a system that our teams could readily adapt to, and crucially, we needed a partner with the resource to help us manage this implementation,” continues Moss. “I was keen that Botanix took on a system that represented manufacturing best practice, as this was an important benefit for us.”
The Botanix implementation team was lean and focused, comprising of the Head of Business Systems, the IT Manager, and the Financial Controller. The knowledge of these three covered the existing operations of both sites, as well as the areas of improvement that could be made with a new system.
Lowe confirms that they didn’t want to change the world; they wanted to use Tectura and Microsoft Dynamics to implement a system that would manage the current workflow, but in an integrated and consistent fashion. They would take the opportunity to review reporting as they went along, removing as many of the offline spreadsheets and databases as possible.
The first stage of the implementation was completed in 10 months, enabling the new system to be brought on line as a new financial year started. This timetable enabled development of business processes and workflows that weren’t on the existing system. It also helped to develop the training materials and assess the implications of the new integration with the workforce.
The initial implementation encompassed all of the core business processes: Sales Order Processing, Purchase Order Processing, General Ledger and Manufacturing. Following the initial implementation, Botanix will be looking to enhance and fully exploit the functionality they have with Tectura Life Sciences.
The objectives of the project were always straightforward. Lowe explains that there were never any key metrics that were taken, or measurable goals to seek. “The vision was clear; can we get product out of the door; do we know it’s out, and once it’s out can we invoice the customer and record the debt?”
“Cost savings will become more evident as Botanix expands and Tectura Life Sciences will become its strong foundation.”
Post go-live, it is clear that the major objectives have been achieved, and more. Lowe goes on to say, “Customer buying patterns and pricing trends are now easily available and reporting is now more efficient. In addition, having all of the data in one location will allow us to collate data quickly. With online stock availability, lead times can now be confirmed more easily.”
In addition, softer benefits are now being realised, which Botanix sees as a very positive thing. Lowe goes on to say, “Things are now much more integrated and users feel more involved and empowered to make things better. They can all now see why they are doing what we are asking them to do.” Users feel they can suggest further improvements to the initial set-up and workflows.
Out of a company comprised of two distinct units, one entity has emerged with common processes and procedures. The transformation into an integrated business has helped the user community appreciate the need for accuracy and encourages them to look for smarter ways of working. “The driver hasn’t really been about cost savings today, but ensuring that as the business grows, we won’t need to increase the headcount to manage the workflows and data retrieval,” highlights Lowe. “Cost savings will therefore become more evident as Botanix expands and Tectura Life Sciences will become its strong foundation.”
The initial implementation of Tectura’s Life Sciences solution has been the first part of a journey towards continuously improving the business workflow, developing working practices and improved reporting and data accessibility. Future plans include the possible addition of bar coded stock control, to improve the data input of stock traffic and stock tracking with label printing.
Thanks to Tectura’s consultants, the Botanix project has been a resounding success. Lowe goes on to summarise the experience, “We wanted a computer system that didn’t turn every request for information into an ad hoc scramble across the building. Tectura was extremely organised and well-resourced. The consultants were superb; they got a very quick appreciation for our unique operations.”
From the CEO’s viewpoint this has also been a very successful project, according to Moss, “Implementing an integrated system, where none has previously existed was always going to be a tough project. We have a few “war stories” to tell now, but we have ended up with a very solid platform on which to develop the business. Tectura’s team worked very well with ours and delivered the project to time and cost and exceeded our high expectations!”