Transforming Legacy IT To Target 4x Growth In Manufacturing

In an era of Industry 4.0, the manufacturing sector is being turned on its head, and to stay competitive, companies are looking to rapidly transform their operations. 

For one manufacturing company, the need for innovation became increasingly apparent as they outgrew their outdated systems and manual processes. Partnering with Wild Tech, they embarked on a journey to modernise their operations, streamline processes, and pave the way for future growth.

Company profle

MATelec Australia is a manufacturing and distribution company based in Shepparton, Victoria. They are 100% Australian owned and deliver both quality commodity products and highly technical control solutions to the electrical industry. 

With a workforce of around 70 employees when the implementation first began, the company has seen significant growth, expanding to approximately 90 employees by the time the project was completed. 

The Challenge

MATelec Australia has ambitious plans for growth over the coming years, which requires success to be sustainable and repeatable. 

The company knew that its legacy systems, while sufficiently capable in the current environment, would quickly become inadequate as the business evolves. The pressure to transition to a platform built for a modern workplace was emphasised by the fact that the old infrastructure that the legacy systems resided on was no longer supported, bringing increased risk of failure and data loss. 

“Basically, we couldn’t scale up because the old systems were held together with workarounds and manual processes…” MATelec Australia Business Systems Manager, Michael Ritchie, said.

The Solution by Wild Tech

After recognising the urgent need for a solution, the company initiated a thorough partner search. Wild Tech was eventually selected for its capabilities and expertise in Microsoft’s suite of solutions, particularly Business Central.

While primarily commenced as an IT project, this could not be completed in isolation. It was the catalyst for a whole of business transformation. Outdated processes, manual workarounds, and disparate systems hindered both efficiency and scalability. Critical areas such as financial management, manufacturing, and customer relationship management faced bottlenecks and blind spots, which meant it was particularly difficult to extract quality insights into what was truly going on within the business.

Collaboratively, then, the two companies began a meticulous assessment of the company’s existing systems and planned requirements, to understand the kind of change management program that might be needed.

Business Central was seen as the optimal solution, because of its ability to offer comprehensive functionalities that aligned with the company’s needs while integrating seamlessly with their existing Microsoft ecosystem. By consolidating disparate systems into a unified platform, Business Central promised to:

  • Streamline and define operational processes.
  • Enhance visibility and provide a single source of truth for data.
  • Empower the company to scale efficiently.

The implementation process was not without its obstacles, given the inevitable pressures of time, cost and quality. A mindset of progress over protection was adopted to ensure controlled both timelines and budgets. The collaboration between the company and Wild Tech allowed for open communication throughout the process, proactive issue resolution, and a shared commitment to success. From the outset, this was viewed as a long-term partnership, not just a one-off project. 

Through such a detail-orientated transformation process, extensive training, and robust change management strategies, MATelec Australia was able to prepare its workforce for the transition, ensuring buy-in and minimising resistance. This was complemented by an extended hypercare period, with extra support provided by Wild Tech both on and off site to address any and all go-live issues as they arose.  

The Outcome

MATelec

The established ways of working had just been torn down and thrown away, replaced with the foundations for future growth. It took time for end users to adapt and learn how the new system worked before they could fully adopt it wholeheartedly. 

The mantra that “change is hard” was acknowledged throughout the entirety of the project and the business therefore embraced this challenge head on. Now that the dust has settled, tangible improvements are being seen across various facets of the business:

  • Defined Processes: with a view to embrace automation and AI in the future, business process has had to be defined and documented. You cannot automate “it depends”, so a defined process provides consistency and scalability.
  • Enhanced Visibility: Business Central, in conjunction with Power BI, provides comprehensive insights into operations, enabling informed and timely decision-making and proactive management. Data transparency empowers the company to identify opportunities, mitigate risks, and optimise resource allocation effectively. Reporting development is an ongoing requirement that will continue to add exponentially more value as the richness of data grows over time.
  • Scalability and Growth: Equipped with a modernised infrastructure, the company is well-positioned to pursue its ambitious growth targets. The scalability of Business Central ensures that the system can evolve alongside the company, accommodating future expansion seamlessly.
  • Cultural Shift: Beyond technological advancements, the transformation fostered a cultural shift within the organisation. With a newfound openness to change and innovation, employees are eager to explore technology-driven solutions that enhance efficiency and productivity.

Looking ahead, the company remains committed to further leveraging technology to drive continuous improvement and innovation. Plans are underway to implement additional Microsoft solutions, such as:

  • The Dynamics CRM for customer service, sales and marketing.
  • Expense management (credit cards, AP automation, etc.).
  • Freight integration for the WMS solution.
  • EDI and customer portals.
  • Subscription management.

“While extremely challenging at the time, this process was such a success that now we’ll assess any opportunity around systems or broader technology on its merits, and identify if it can deliver value for the business,” Ritchie said.

The partnership between MATelec Australia and Wild Tech exemplifies the transformative power of technology when coupled with strategic vision and collaborative effort. By embracing innovation and modernising their operations, the company has not only overcome immediate challenges but is now well positioned to continue to innovate and scale into the future.

The Nine Benefits Of The Transformation Project

MATelec
  1. Automated the process of invoicing at the point of dispatch.
    • This removed an end-of-day bottleneck where Customer Care would have to wait until goods were dispatched to then manually invoice them.
    • The generation of high-level estimates saved 30 seconds per transaction.

  2. Automated LTI reporting direct to customers.
    • Leveraging Power BI, 175 unique LTI reports are now sent directly to customers on the 1st of each month automatically.
    • This requires no human intervention and therefore is not susceptible to human error.
    • Previously would be a very mundane task that would take at least 4-6 hours per month.

  3. Adopted a reliable, systemised Fixed Asset Register, shifting away from Excel files with manual depreciation which needed constant corrections from external accountants.

  4. Shift from paper-based picks and documentation to handheld WMS scanners in the warehouse, improved pick accuracy and reduction in associated credits.

  5. Ability to copy & paste or edit in Excel when working on large quotes/orders, cutting down time spent manually entering details.

  6. Automated bank feeds flowing into Business Central, reducing admin time required to reconcile.

  7. Eliminated the requirement to log in via the remote desktop, providing staff the flexibility to log in from anywhere at any time. 

  8. Facilitated the opportunity to completely redefine all customer and product segmentation, making data more accurate and insightful.

  9. Allowed for the introduction of cost centres so we can begin assessing functional profitability instead of a single bucket of costs.
MATelec
“Wild Tech did stand out to us as a good culture fit. We felt comfortable that they understood our needs and were well equipped to meet our expectations.”
Richard Buchner
Managing Director,
MATelec