Tait sees Baan benefits, expects more to come

Tait Electronics has already noticed time-saving efficiencies after going live with Baan software, but expects the big pay-off to come when all its international subsidiaries follow suit.

Tait Electronics says it has already noticed time-saving efficiencies after going live with Baan software, but expects the big pay-off to come when all its international subsidiaries follow suit.

The New Zealand firm’s manufacturing and distribution subsidiary in Brisbane went live with Baan IV at Easter, and two of its Christchurch business units went live at Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Another nine subsidiaries in England, Germany, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Canada and the US and three business units in Christchurch will go live over the next 12 months.

Tait runs Baan’s manufacturing, finance and distribution packages.

Tait group project manager Christian Anderson says Tait expects the real bene-fits to be noticed when all of the sites go live and everyone is able to see the inventory right through the whole organisation. Its key goal is to reduce its inventory.

In the meantime, it has already noticed some benefits.

“Finance is integrated into the manufacturing and processing modules and already we’ve seen some time-saving. You used to have to manually put the transactions from manufacturing to finance. Now that’s done automatically.”

Another benefit is that the processing staff are using the MRP system and getting accurate information out of it.

“With the old system the integrity of the data wasn’t always assured.”

Anderson believes one of the reasons for Tait’s success with Baan is that it did an extensive business process re-engineering (BPR) exercise in the initial stages of the project. The aim was to understand the business and then look at how to fit the software to the business, rather than the other way around.

In doing the BPR exercise, Tait found some efficiencies could be made before even implementing the software. They included things like streamlining systems in some areas, and reducing documentation duplication in others.

Anderson says Tait largely did the installation itself. The distance between Baan in Australia and Tait in New Zealand was one reason, but Tait also wanted to build up the in-house knowledge of the product, meaning that staff had an idea of the “big picture”, rather than just their own individual parts.

“If people were processing online, we wanted them to understand that when they did their transactions this affected demand put on purchasing, and the overall flow of information.”

He says one difficulty was getting up to speed with the software.

“We brought in consultants on an as-required basis just to pinpoint some areas that we were unsure of, but really the main implementation was done by internal people and it seemed to go really well.”

He says the biggest challenge in the implementation was managing the expectations of the users, and getting to the stage where they were willing to accept change. There were also challenges with support.

“Because we were the first site in this part of the world it was very difficult to find information about bugs and things. We had a lot of issues which we managed to resolve.”

However, he says the support from Baan has got “an awful lot better” over the last two to three months.

Anderson says the cut-over went more smoothly than had been anticipated.

“We hoped we’d covered all the eventualities that would come up, but we still had that niggling feeling that we’d missed something or hadn’t tested something. But things went incredibly well.”

Tait signed with Baan in November 1995. It looked at about six products, but originally Baan wasn’t one of them. Tait selected Computer Associates’ ManMan-X, but could not come to a final agreement.

“We had made a number of customisations to our existing product which meant we couldn’t follow the upgrade path that they were offering any more.”

Anderson says Tait wanted to move into an open systems environment.

“We had a mainframe system and we struggled with getting the data and information that we needed. We wanted to get everybody on to one platform so we had visibility of stock across the board.”

Tait is using an Informix database running on two HP 9000 series machines. Its old system was based on proprietary hardware.

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