National Air Cargo Case Study for Microsoft Dynamics GP
Founded in 1991, National Air Cargo is one of the largest and fastest-growing freight forwarding companies globally. Its soaring success over the years is largely attributed to the company’s ability to expedite freight delivery through 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.
After several years of extraordinary growth, difficulties in these areas began to emerge, slowing productivity and stifling expansion opportunities. To manage its accounting and financial reporting functions, National Air Cargo relied on Peachtree accounting software, which did not integrate with its 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. 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.”
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 worldwide through 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 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 better to connect its salespeople 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 various 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. It integrated this solution with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. National Air Cargo staff members worldwide 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 its 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 that 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.
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