The Company: About Serious Integrated
Serious Integrated makes embedded Human to Machine Interfaces (HMI) and Comms/Control software-on-hardware platforms that transform industrial, commercial, and medical OEM products. Serious’ off-the-shelf integrative and customizable platforms dramatically reduce software and hardware development costs and time-to-market, allowing customers to move from design-start to production-ready in as little as a few months.
Founded in 2008, Serious ran its operations on QuickBooks, the MISys manufacturing system, and Salesforce for many years. As the company grew, executives ran into problems with their disconnected legacy software systems. QuickBooks didn’t carry inventory, and Brad Stevens, CFO and director of operations found it hard to reconcile the financial system with the inventory numbers generated in MISys. In addition, QuickBooks couldn’t scale or integrate with the company’s contract manufacturing partners.
The company sells an integrated circuit board and designs the boards, but then contract manufactures them. The boards are then shipped back to Arizona, where the Serious team adds the software controls and completes the final assembly. The company tried to track and manage inventory in its own warehouse and lacked visibility into its partner locations in China, Canada, and California.
The Situation: Improve Inventory Visibility
“Inventory is a big chunk of our business model that we have to manage, and QuickBooks would often get out of sync,” Stevens said. “It was extremely difficult to find where things got out of whack and almost impossible to work that out.”
He spent countless hours trying to manually manage and reconcile inventory in the two programs, often to no avail. So, like many other companies using legacy versions of QuickBooks, “I often just ended up making an adjustment and never could reconcile most of the discrepancies,” he said. Having multiple systems that didn’t reconcile made it very difficult to manage inventory levels.
In addition, the company needed better bill of material (BOM) management with revision control so that when they swapped out parts, they could track the revisions and when they were made accurately.
To Grow, a New Integrated System was Needed
Serious Integrated began to look for a new solution as part of its growth strategy, a desire to better manage inventory and add traceability and serialization to its inventory processes. They discovered that adding additional concepts to its existing manufacturing software MISys would be difficult, Stevens said.
In addition to needing a single system to connect its financial, inventory, and manufacturing operations, Serious Integrated wanted a cloud-based system so it could avoid additional server and technology infrastructure maintenance and expenses of an on-premises solution. Its current servers were at near capacity, said Stevens. The company needed advanced manufacturing capabilities as well as a company it could trust. The new business system needed to have MRP as well as materials handling, traceability, serialization, and the ability to manage inventory across multiple warehouses and bins.
The Solution: OptiPro ERP, An Industry-Specific ERP Solution for Manufacturing on SAP Business One
Serious Integrated reviewed NetSuite, MISys, and Sage before electing to deploy OptiProERP with SAP Business One. Although he knew of SAP’s world-class reputation, Stevens initially worried about the enterprise costs and complexity sometimes associated with SAP’s enterprise software products. But then he learned that SAP Business One was designed with small and midsize businesses in mind and appropriately priced.
OptiProERP provided the additional, much-needed manufacturing functions embedded into SAP Business One and is one of SAP’s unique OEM partners.
In addition, OptiProERP effortlessly handles inventory levels from multiple warehouses and provides the mechanisms needed to handle multiple part revisions.
The Results: OptiPro ERP Implementation Benefits End-to-End Operational Visibility
Having one single, connected system eliminated reconciliations between multiple systems, saving countless hours of Stevens’ time. Having one integrated system eliminated the double manual data entries, exports, and transfers the team previously made between programs.
“That was a huge benefit,” he said. “Everything is tied together and works as one seamless system. That was huge to track everything from AR to delivery to the work order. In two systems, there was no way to do that.”
For the first time, Serious Integrated had full visibility into the company’s financial and inventory status in real-time. “I really like the interplay between the different modules and the deeper visibility into how we are performing,” Stevens said.
Accurate, Real-Time Reporting
The company has accurate and real-time financial reporting and accurate stock levels across the entire operation, which helps keep inventory levels appropriate and aids in the procurement process. Real-time reports help Serious Integrated’s executives make data-driven decisions faster and easier.
With more accurate data in one connected system, for example, the company has more precise finished goods costing based on production and its sub-contracting processes. It has multiple reports that are customized for its business to draw from, including an improved chart of accounts, sub-contracting work order status report, production shortage report, and inventory audit report for stock valuation.
Anytime, Anywhere Access
Stevens liked that the new business solution is cloud-based, which removed the costs of additional on-premises technology infrastructure and maintenance for the ERP and allows him to access the system from anywhere.
“I’m pleased with the cloud-based system,” he said. “IT is minimal. Before, we had all the server maintenance, and if a server went down, it was more critical than it is today. Now I can use a cell phone to access the system, which I had to several times when the Internet went down, and I easily accessed the data I needed.”
Backups are handled in the background by OptiProERP, which means Stevens avoids server maintenance and downtime while the backup runs.
Added Manufacturing Capabilities
On the manufacturing side, David Nolte, vice president of manufacturing and quality, also has more visibility into manufacturing processes and also visibility into partner warehouses, resulting in more accurate inventory levels and streamlined operations.
He uses the OptiProERP tool daily for item creation through BOM management and work orders to manage sales orders and, ultimately, shipping and fulfillment. “The system is pretty easy to learn, easy to use, easy to get information out of, and is organized well,” Nolte said.
“We got multiple hundreds of BOMs with the system, production work orders to the floor, and tie all together to ship product,” he added.
They can now track batches of high-value materials and track when they are consumed and shipped, and have visibility into partner operations in China, Canada, and California.
Serious Integrated plans to add additional contract manufacturers overseas, and OptiProERP with SAP Business One provides the robust reporting and auditing needed when operating internationally as well as the manufacturing capabilities that will allow them to add new partners easily, he said.
“I view OptiProERP as a tool like I do a screwdriver,” Nolte said. “It gets integrated into our processes. OptiProERP gives us the ability to track inventory, to control certain aspects of our processes, and it gives us reporting facilities that otherwise could be laborious to extract inventory levels, for example.”
Once work orders are entered, the software becomes more automatic in order fulfillment and invoicing, which helps prevent errors, he added.
Growth Platform for Manufacturing
The company is looking to adopt advanced serialization and to more fully leverage the quality management and additional manufacturing capabilities that OptiProERP provides. Also, Serious Integrated can easily add its manufacturing partner facilities and warehouses in the system as it looks to expand operations in new locations, domestically and internationally.