Microsoft Dynamics GP


National Air Cargo

Case Study:National Air Cargo
 
Situation

Founded in 1991, National Air Cargo is one of the largest and fastest-growing freight forwarding companies in the world. Its soaring success over the years

 

Since deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP, we’ve been able to integrate and streamline our global operations and achieve annual growth averaging around 20 percent.

Randy Kraft, Vice President of Information Technology, National Air Cargo

 

is largely attributed to the company’s ability to expedite freight delivery through the use of direct transport routes, rather than the traditional hub and spoke model many larger carriers use.

This emphasis on operational agility has proven to be an enormously successful strategy, generating exponential revenue growth and rapid expansion. National Air Cargo began with just three employees and now supports 375 personnel in nine countries and more than 20 locations worldwide.

“Our company’s two biggest strengths have always been our expedited delivery turn time and our ability to offer customers detailed information about shipments in transit,” says Randy Kraft, Vice President of Information Technology for National Air Cargo.

But after several years of extraordinary growth, difficulties in these areas began to emerge, slowing productivity and stifling opportunities for expansion. To manage its accounting and financial reporting functions, National Air Cargo relied on Peachtree accounting software, which did not integrate with the company’s freight management system. This meant that employees often had to manually reenter data to produce basic financial reports or update the general ledger. Further, the company’s sales force resorted to an off-the-shelf cargo booking system to manage customer contact information and, due to disparate systems, employees had difficulty sharing information and working collaboratively.

“We’ve always relied on technology to stay competitive, and we realized that the technology that worked to get us off the ground was no longer meeting our needs,” explains Kraft. “To continue growing at the pace we wanted, we recognized the need for a long-term technology strategy. Our goal wasn’t just to deploy a new accounting or CRM system; we wanted to build a tight network of systems that worked together to help us get to the next level.”

Solution

In evaluating its critical business needs, National Air Cargo placed priority on replacing its accounting system. In 2002, the company engaged Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Software Solutions Group to help implement Microsoft Dynamics™ GP. With help from Software Solutions Group, National Air Cargo deployed a hosted version of Microsoft Dynamics GP at its corporate headquarters in Buffalo, New York, that connects to the company’s business units around the world through the use of Web-based portals. Taking advantage of the rich functionality of Microsoft Dynamics GP, including project accounting and financial reporting, the company has been able to increase business process control and integrate data from all aspects of its global operations. 

Gaining tighter control of its financials through the use of Microsoft Dynamics GP enabled National Air Cargo to focus on improving its customer relationship management capabilities. In 2006, with consultation from Software Solutions Group, the company implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM and deployed the solution to its 30-member global sales force.

 

 

 

National Air Cargo uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to better connect its sales people to the company’s day-to-day operations. Now, sales personnel can quickly share customer data with the home office and access real-time information about customer shipments in a variety of ways, including via their Microsoft Office Outlook® e-mail client and on their handheld mobile devices.

In addition, the IT team at National Air Cargo developed a custom supply chain management system based on the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 managed programming model and integrated this solution with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. National Air Cargo staff members throughout the world now rely on the interoperability of these systems to share critical business data without delay.  

National Air Cargo also uses Microsoft communication and collaboration technologies—including Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Live Meeting—to facilitate secure, real-time information exchange among its employees.      

Increasing Business Intelligence
Consultants from Software Solutions Group worked with the IT staff at National Air Cargo to integrate Microsoft Dynamics GP with the company’s existing freight management system. Now, the company can better track the costs associated with each aspect of the shipping process. This lets account managers respond more quickly to requests for proposals with up-to-the-minute pricing information. Because Microsoft Dynamics GP provides a single repository for financial data, company leaders have smoother access to consolidated information for optimized decision support. “The Business Portal feature of Microsoft Dynamics GP gives us quick access to information about our financials that’s easy to use and apply, so we can make decisions faster,” says Kraft.

In addition, through its use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the company gains deep insight into day-to-day sales and operational performance. Company managers rely on Microsoft Dynamics CRM to quickly generate reports to track frequent service requests and compare performance data across business units. Access to this information enables National Air Cargo to be more responsive to customer needs. Because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is tightly integrated with the company’s freight management system, business development managers in the field can view freight movement data from any National Air Cargo operations center worldwide.

Strengthening Competitive Advantage
Though National Air Cargo continues to grow, the company is committed to maintaining the operational agility that has helped it gain prime mover status in its industry. The company takes advantage of the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and its custom supply chain management system to provide strong support for its remote sales force. Now, members of the sales team receive shipment status updates in real time.

“The integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and our supply chain management system has definitely increased our in-transit visibility,” explains Kraft. “Our customers not only count on fast delivery, but they also want to know exactly where their shipment is at all times. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can provide that information.”

Using Microsoft Dynamics GP, the accounting staff at National Air Cargo generates, within minutes, a government compliance report that used to take up to three weeks, freeing up staff time for long-range planning, additional reporting, and other strategic initiatives.

The company also uses the Audit Trails module in Microsoft Dynamics GP to trace all of the transactions connected to an individual shipping item. “With Microsoft Dynamics GP, we can audit our system and follow each transaction around a piece of freight from origination to the time it reaches its destination—something we could never do with Peachtree,” says Kraft. “Because we could demonstrate such tight controls on our processes, we were able to obtain a single ISO 9000 certificate that applies to all of our business units. None of our competitors can say that.” 

Improving Collaboration
As National Air Cargo continues to expand, it focuses on strengthening the potential for collaboration across its entire operation. The company uses Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 e-mail messaging and collaboration software, which increases the speed and reliability of its business communications. Exchange Server 2007 enables the company’s workforce around the world to easily access their e-mail, calendars, and contacts from a variety of clients and devices.

In addition, because Exchange Server 2007 integrates with Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, employees can receive e-mail alerts about specific customer accounts and documents related to the projects in their workflow. Now, employees quickly share contact information, schedules, reports, and other documents, driving greater business process efficiency. Because National Air Cargo uses Microsoft Forefront™ Security for Exchange Server, the company is able to maximize network security and stability. To further improve collaboration, the company uses several of the unified communication technologies enabled by Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Office Live Meeting—an interactive Web-conferencing tool—and Microsoft RoundTable™, which provides panoramic video-conferencing capabilities.  

“Technology has definitely been a strategic asset for our company. The reason we’ve invested so thoroughly in the Microsoft platform is because it provides outstanding integration, from the server to the desktop, and in virtually every application we use to run our business,” Kraft says.

Benefits

Since deploying Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, National Air Cargo has seen dramatic growth in revenue, with annual increases

 

The reason we’ve invested so thoroughly in the Microsoft platform is because it provides outstanding integration, from the server to the desktop, and in virtually every application we use to run our business.

Randy Kraft, Vice President of Information Technology, National Air Cargo

 

averaging near 20 percent. Productivity has also soared, making it possible to maintain consistent staffing levels while expanding operations around the world. And by streamlining and integrating key business processes, the company has dramatically increased its efficiency.

“Without these tools from Microsoft, we wouldn’t have been able to grow our business globally as quickly as we did,” says Kraft.

Expanded Revenue by 20 Percent
For more than five consecutive years, the growth rate of National Air Cargo has followed an impressive upward trend. With annual revenue growth at an all-time high, the company has acquired valuable capital assets, including the addition of several new planes to its fleet. The company attributes much of this success directly to its use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Says Kraft, “Since deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP, we’ve been able to integrate and streamline our global operations and achieve annual revenue growth averaging around 20 percent.”

Increased Productivity by 25 Percent
Despite a rapid increase in revenue, National Air Cargo has maintained staffing levels since deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP. “One of the greatest benefits to our company has been the tight integration of these solutions, which has helped us virtually eliminate time spent performing manual updates to our systems and enhanced the productivity of our team,” explains Kraft. “For example, because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed to integrate with applications built on the Microsoft .NET Framework, we knew it would work seamlessly with our custom supply chain management solution. The ability to use all of these systems together is a huge benefit.”

While company revenue grew by 20 percent during one 12-month period, National Air Cargo did not need to add to their accounting department’s existing personnel. Increased productivity is also derived from the company’s use of Exchange Server 2007 and several other Microsoft collaboration technologies, such as Office Live Meeting and RoundTable. By enabling National Air Cargo to increase the quality and speed of its day-to-day business communication, the combination of the accounting solution, customer relationship management solution, and the collaboration technologies have boosted productivity by as much as 25 percent.      

Greater Operational Efficiency
National Air Cargo has taken advantage of the new capabilities enabled by Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to dramatically increase efficiency across its entire operation. For example, the company has reduced the amount of time it takes to create and submit invoices and receive customer payment from an average of 120 days to 36 hours. “Back in the Peachtree days, we’d produce a paper invoice and make updates to our financial system manually. Now, with Microsoft Dynamics GP, we can handle all of our needs electronically,” remarks Kraft. Also, because its freight management system is integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the company’s business development managers can address customer concerns from anywhere in the world 10 times faster than before.

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