How To Survive: The Digital Journey To Operational Excellence

Dormac

In a two-speed worldbusinesses across the globe are often faced with one crippling dilemma: outgrowing legacy technology systems. Facing an outdated, ill-fitting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, local ship repair and marine engineering company, Dormac began the search for a digital journey partner.

As a division of Southey Holdings, Dormac (Pty) Ltd is the driving force behind a diverse and growing number of independent and autonomous businesses. It represents one of the largest and most respected privately-owned groups in South Africa. Offering a full spectrum of ship repair and specialised engineering services to owners and operators of cargo vessels, passenger liners, navy vessels and offshore construction vessels, it is essential that Dormac deliver on its promise for operational excellence.  

“Ship repair operations are typically ad hoc projects, requiring varying levels of contract labour and different equipment requirements. Unpredictable demand makes long-term business planning difficult, and ship repair companies must be agile and flexible to remain competitive,” confirms Sanjana Ramphal, Subject Matter Expert: Hospitality – Infor Services at iOCO. “Adding to this challenge, Dormac previously used a very outdated version of BaanIVc4, with modules for sales, procurement, financials, fixed assets and PCS projects. The solution featured approximately 20 customisations, mainly for reporting.”

While it was a good solution for its time, the business outgrew the technology, facing several serious challenges, which hampered everything from ERP processes to financial management and reporting, limiting automation and increasing the occurrence of manual intervention and duplications.

“Although we had been using Baan for many years, we simply had to look for an alternative solution. The biggest concern was that the technology was far too limited, and in order to upgrade or change functionality, we had to go back and apply patches. This wasn’t cost effective, and at times could cost as much as the initial implementation,” recalls Siva Pillay, IT Systems Manager, Dormac.

To limit the expenditure on patches, the Dormac team reverted to working on Excel. Pillay admits that this defeated the purpose of having an ERP system. It was a time-consuming, manual process, and hours were wasted trying to locate errors in formulas. “Our business had changed quite drastically. As we embarked on a large, long term oil and gas project, we realised we simply couldn’t track costs properly. The Baan system had served its purpose, but it was time to make a change.”

To overcome these challenges, Dormac considered either upgrading to the latest ERP service pack, or implementing a full technical upgrade to Infor LN. For the same implementation effort, the service pack upgrade would have required Dormac to re-implement the existing ERP to re-establish TP Projects, reporting and control structures. After much consideration and consultation with Infor Services at iOCO, Dormac selected Infor LN for its ease-of-use and extensive functionality.

After the decision was made, Pillay notes that the implementation was fast, streamlined and painless. “From the first consultation to the phasing, scoping and completion of the project, it only took 11 months,” confirms Pillay. He recalls that the process was as painless as anyone could expect, and we were able to work with demanding users to give them the solutions they needed. The go-live was followed by only a small adjustment period of about a week or so, with no issues or errors.

 “The way Infor LN was designed and implemented most manual processes were eliminated. We can now track costs more effectively, no matter the size or duration of the project. With a reliable system split between the ship repair and industrial sectors of our business, project set-up is much easier,” says Pillay. “Possibly the greatest benefit is the solution’s ability to scale as the business grows.”

Moving forward, Dormac will lean on the Infor LN solution as its business expands. “The way the solution is set up there will be nothing major to change to expand it – it’s ready to take on more. For example, we recently added a floating dock to our asset list and we quickly and seamlessly incorporated it into our setup,” concludes Pillay.

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