The ability to consistently provide service that meets customer expectations requires good communication every step of the way—from receipt of material to processing it to shipping it.
But after a growth spurt through a series of acquisitions, Sims found itself operating several different legacy software systems that hindered internal communication. This lack of software integration made it difficult to easily standardize sales, accounting and operational processes across the growing company. Even though those acquisitions allowed Sims to establish itself as the global leader in electronics reuse and recycling with 14 North American facilities, it soon became clear that supporting multiple ways of doing the same thing were going to cost the company, and its customers, time, effort and money.
Dots on the Map
“One factor that distinguishes us from our competitors is that we have more dots on the map,” said Lisa Bremner, Systems Manager, Sims Recycling Solutions, Americas. “But you can only recognize the true power of those dots on the map once each location is using the same software platform.”
Looking to fully harness that competitive advantage, Sims recently deployed enwis) to unify the company’s financial and operational systems and harmonize its service and material lists across all its facilities. Enwis), or enterprise waste information software, is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system designed specifically for the waste and recycling industry. This industry-specific design, according to Bremner, made enwis) especially attractive to Sims because it eliminated the need to modify an off-the-shelf inventory management tool more suited to the needs of traditional manufacturers.
“Enwis) is flexible enough to handle the complex and diverse functions of a global recycling company. Besides recognizing different currencies, weights and measures, and tax structures, it recognizes that we receive material that we may pay or charge for and we ship out material that we may pay or charge for,” said Bremner.
Enwis) works in unison with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, a financial software package, and Clarion+. Clarion+ allows technicians to record equipment serial numbers or asset tag numbers prior to processing. “Clarion+ works hand-in-hand with enwis) to allow us to provide additional asset management and data capture services for our customers,” said Bremner.
Painting the Walls
Bremner compares the process of dismantling the legacy systems and implementing enwis) to changing the color of a house’s living room walls. “Opening the can of paint and painting the room is the really fun part, but you only do that at the end,” said Bremner.
From 2008 to 2010, the software implementation team worked behind the scenes to prepare for the roll out of enwis). In 2011, the first coat of paint was applied to the walls and enwis) became visible and ran in tandem with existing systems. Earlier this year, the company suspended double entries and relied entirely on enwis) to record material moving in and out of Sims’ facilities.
“Enwis) gives Sims the opportunity to assess all our business practices and determine the best ones for sales, operations andback-office functions. We have been able to introduce unprecedented levels of standardization, which helps us to streamline the business and drive efficiency,” said Bremner.
The biggest beneficiaries of this transition to enswis) are Sims’ customers, according to Bremner. “Now that we have a single software platform, we are going to become even better at serving our customers, particularly those who have a national presence,” said Bremner. “The standardization and consolidation of our terminology, processes and data reporting will allow us to consistently fulfill a customer’s requirements across our nationwide network of sites.”
Later this summer, Bremner and her team plan to unveil the crown jewel of the enwis) implementation: a customer portal. The portal will allow Sims’ customers to conveniently and securely access their account information through a website login. “We now have this tool we can offer to our customers that we could never offer to them before,” said Bremner. “We have done all the hard work, and this year we are going to be able to apply that final coat of paint to the walls.”
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