When food products manufacturer Omniblend first engaged Inecom Technology Partners to help find a better software system to run its business, the recommendation for SAP Business One was a little surprising. After all, the company only had 5 users – but the selection and deployment of a solution capable of so much more proved prescient. As it met and exceeded aggressive growth goals, Omniblend has enjoyed a system capable of supporting its expansion, to the point that the on-premise system was recently moved into a hosted environment to deliver even further advantages.
Omniblend established operation in 2008 to blend and pack health, sports and nutraceutical products to Australian standards for distribution throughout Australia and export to international markets. Using reliable blending techniques, Omniblend has established a high-quality food/nutraceutical plant, with modern equipment and well-regulated systems. Holding the necessary accreditation to manufacture for local and export to Europe, Asia and North America, Omniblend is certified by Australian state and federal authorities as an A-rated facility.
Director Arie Nudel explains what impressed him back in 2010 when Omniblend first engaged with Inecom Technology Partners: he was struck with the level of attention and effort invested in providing the most appropriate software for its business.
“It was clear the intention was to get a good solution to the customer and this is one of the reasons we wanted to work with Inecom.”
At that time, he explains, his organisation was a small business turning over ‘a few million a year’, using MYOB accounting software and Excel spreadsheets to keep tabs on things.
“The accounts were always at least a month behind the rest of the business and that was bad for everything, including cashflow, reporting to banks when we needed to access finance, stock and order control, and so on. We wanted something that would bring it all together.”
A number of options were available, including MYOB’s Exo. “Business One seemed like a more considerable product and we thought with some requirements which are not as straightforward as for example a services business would have, it would be best to go with SAP.”
The on-premise implementation was duly done and Nudel says it went well, with user acceptance and change management the only real (and inevitable) challenges.
“It took perhaps 6 months from starting to look to being implemented, and maybe another 6 for the system to fully bed down. That’s not a reflection of the software, but rather that staff can be reluctant to change. But what was clear is that we benefited from a system which enabled the company to grow rapidly, eventually to about four times the size.”
This resulted in a whole new type of growing pain, particularly with the addition of a second location across town from the first, as well as more personnel. “That meant investigating cloud options; by this time, we were up to around 50 employees, with 15 regular users of the Business One solution.”
One of the advantages of the SAP Business One solution is its availability as an on-premise, hosted or cloud solution. Together with Inecom, Omniblend’s executives examined the options and determined that an on-demand cloud solution would deliver substantial advantages.
“Our only real concern, in the industrial areas of Melbourne, was around internet connectivity. However, this is getting better – and in any event, with the second site across town, we were reliant on a VPN already.”
That VPN was highlighting the growing issues with the on-premise solution, Nudel adds.
“We had an expanding IT workload, requiring significant backups, system redundancy, that kind of thing. With the next upgrade coming up, we thought cloud would be beneficial and would eliminate the slow VPN between sites which continually dropped out. We also wanted to establish a 3rd site and add more users, something an on-demand system would make easy.”
Remarkably, given the commonality between the on-premise and cloud Business One systems (and given the planning invested in making for a smooth ‘lift and shift’) the process was, says Nudel, as simple as switching off, backing up the database and shutting down on Friday afternoon as usual.
“Over the weekend, the database was loaded into the cloud, and by Monday, we were up and running like normal.”
With a dedicated high-speed internet connection in place, the benefits of the cloud system were immediately apparent, Nudel relates.
“For one thing, we no longer have our own infrastructure: no more servers to look after, no more backups to do and no more of the big expenses involved in periodically upgrading these things.”
He says that as the business continues to grow, moving to the cloud has proven highly suitable. “Adding more users is simple; configuration is easy, there is no need for client software or roaming profiles and other complexities. And we can access the device from anywhere with any device, which is really useful.”
Pointing out that it is necessary to weigh the costs and benefits of any business initiative, Nudel says reluctance to spend on IT tends to be typical.
“That is, at least, until something goes wrong. Then you’ll throw any amount of money at it to have it working again.”
As such, he says the peace of mind which comes with a professionally-hosted cloud solution is satisfying, “Although it did initially feel a little weird not having our system in-house.”
Where routine upgrades to the SAP software would require some business disruption over several days, it now happens in the background, automatically.
“In many ways, we did this at right time as we weren’t too big. It was planned well, and while there will always be hiccups, the investment in planning means the disruption to users is minimal.”
The cloud solution is now proven, reliably and confidence-inspiring; he says the next steps for the company, now equipped with a solution capable of going much further, is to implement the Accellos Warehouse Management solution. Also in the cloud, and with Inecom.
“We’ve seen how much less it costs to go cloud and how flexible and reliable it is. We’re looking forward to taking even more advantage of on demand software to drive business performance,” he concludes.
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