Thank you to our customers, partners and suppliers for making 2011 a successful year for Columbus. To round the year off, I thought we’d have some fun with this last case study…
Father Christmas is the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of presents for good girls and boys around the world. Employing close to 10,000 elves at his headquarters in Lapland, Father Christmas and his team of helpers are responsible for delivering all Christmas presents on-time, every time – within a window of just one day a year. Santa’s main distribution centre in Lapland is a phenomenal sight. At over 3,000,000 square feet, it’s one of the world’s largest facilities.
Back in 2010 Father Christmas recognised that the world was changing and his operations were falling behind. The toys his customers demanded were becoming ever more complex, requiring work to be outsourced to specialists. Fewer elves of working age were limiting his production capabilities, while a growing world population stretched even his magic powers to deliver within a 24-hour period.
Despite such large and complex operations, readers might be surprised to discover that Father Christmas relied on separate systems to run his warehouse, production, sales order processing and accounts. Such disparate, silos of information were leading to inefficiencies and mistakes across the business.
Father Christmas turned to business productivity specialists, Columbus, for help. After careful analysis of the challenges Santa faced, the team at Columbus concluded that a solution based on the Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP system was the answer.
Making big changes to Santa’s way of working had its challenges, making it essential that the ERP project didn’t disrupt the busy Christmas period. Using Columbus’ SureStep+ methodology ensured a smooth implementation, without any unnecessary paperwork that can often hinder well-intentioned project management systems.
In addition, by using Columbus’ RapidValue solution set– a toolkit that pre-configures much of Microsoft Dynamics AX to suit the needs of larger manufacturers - Father Christmas managed to go live 80% sooner than had been previously possible.
Over the last 12 months, the return on investment from Microsoft Dynamics AX has been startling.
Using Microsoft Dynamics AX has allowed Father Christmas to introduce a real-time warehouse management system (WMS) using handheld barcode scanners to drive putaway, replenishment, order picking and sleigh loading. With integration between Santa’s transport and warehouse, more intelligent order picking and sleigh loading has cut air miles by over 23%.
Integrating sales and operations planning has transformed the way Santa operates. Previously, for example, the toy manufacturing division used to be measured on yield and cost per toy. This led to over production of toys for which there was insufficient demand, but which drove down unit cost. Now, with greater visibility across the business production is aligned with demand, resulting in reduced stock of 17% and more efficient allocation of elves.
Having Microsoft SharePoint integrate with Microsoft Dynamics AX has enabled Father Christmas to build a web-based portal that provides a variety of functionality to suppliers. Suppliers can now receive and acknowledge purchase orders online, view Santa’s production schedules and component and raw material requirements, and view all the way through to end user demand. Suppliers update their own stocks for elf buyers to see, and generate bar coded shipments labels. When a supplier shipment is ready, the supplier can use the portal to request inbound transportation and routing details. Already this approach has dramatically reduced the cost of inbound freight and administration costs.
Finally, softer benefits have been realised from Microsoft’s familiar user interface that works with and like other Microsoft products Father Christmas and his helpers already use, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. The Role Center within Microsoft Dynamics AX also provides real-time dashboard information that’s contextually relevant to the role each elf has – helping each of Santa’s elves prioritise their workload and respond to alerts.
In all, Columbus’ Microsoft Dynamics AX solution has safeguarded Father Christmas’ promise that all good children will have their presents delivered on time.