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Fearing International

 

Industry : Distribution – agricultural products


Scenarios : Fearing International had to upgrade its computer system to avoid being struck by the millennium bug. It took the opportunity to implement a computer system that streamlined its business.

 

Company Description

Fearing International is a 25-year old supplier of agricultural supplies to livestock farmers. It employs 12 people and turns over £1.5m in the sale of a range of goods, from teat plugs and milking aprons to disinfectant and inspection gloves. It also supplies livestock ear tags, which it marks itself with government approved IDs using a laser machine.


History

Fearing International got into a spot of bother when in 1999 it decided to upgrade its computer system to fix the millennium bug. The £40,000 Microsoft Navision system it bought was nearly never completed with the result that for a few short weeks the company was left critically vulnerable. Fortunately, Fearing emerged from the crisis in better shape than it had been before. The computer system has helped the agricultural products distributor reduce operating costs, while increasing the amount of business it does. Greater operating efficiencies have translated into higher profits.


Moving Forward

Fearing's experiences provide an important lesson for other businesses buying computer systems: choosing the right supplier is as important as choosing the right product. Fearing decided early on that Microsoft Navision was the product that best suited its needs. It wanted a system that would be flexible, could be altered in step with its changing business needs, and could be used to overcome some unique challenges. But its initial supplier delivered a poor implementation and subsequently went out of business, leaving Fearing's in-house IT manager to pick up the pieces. In the meantime Fearing searched for a reliable, reputable supplier that could implement its Microsoft Navision system properly. That was where Microsoft Business Solutions’ partner Anglia Business Solutions stepped in to clear up the mess. The benefits Fearing has gained from its Microsoft Navision system since it employed Anglia demonstrate how important the rights accreditations are when choosing a supplier. Anglia is a Microsoft Certified Business Solutions Partner; a recognition of its track record in specifying, delivering and supporting complex business systems.


“Make sure you’ve got a reliable and well-proven supplier in the first instance and make sure they get to know your business before putting the system in,” is the advice Andrew Cowan, general manager of Fearing, gives to other SMEs.


This was the approach Anglia took and its Navision expertise is still being employed today to help Fearing get the most from the system. The difference between Anglia and its initial supplier is like chalk and cheese, says Cowan:


“Anglia seem to spend money on investment and training. They know what to do and they have plenty of people who can give you the help you need”. Had Fearing chosen a supplier like Anglia in the first place it could have avoided a lot of hassle because the system it wanted had some complex elements that needed an expert to make them run smoothly.


As well as standard agricultural products, Fearing supplies ear tags for livestock. These have to be marked by Fearing, using a laser, with a unique identification number that is checked with the government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Fearing's Microsoft Navision system automates the whole process, from the moment the order is taken, through to the tags being shipped to the customer. This has all the usual functions you would expect of a good order processing system that talks to stock and finance systems. But it also collates tag IDs to be checked with Defra, sends them for authorisation, and ensures that only authorized tags are finally lasered and shipped to the customer.

 

The Microsoft Navision system even directs the laser machine, removing a point where human error could have previously resulted in waste and unnecessary cost. The resulting efficiencies have allowed Fearing to operate with 20 per cent fewer staff, reduce operating costs by a similar amount and reduce the time it takes to process orders by about 50 per cent, while its revenues since installing the system have increased 10-15 per cent. The Microsoft Navision system also runs on a sophisticated database that helps Fearing better target its marketing. Cowan says he is still working with Anglia to squeeze as many improvements as he can out of the current system before upgrading to the next version of Microsoft Navision. That illustrates another way in which a reputable supplier can help you use computers to keep costs down – whether you are in the agricultural sector or not, they can avoid making a pig's ear of the whole system, and they will refrain from plying you with bull to make you upgrade before you need to.

 

Benefits

  • Operating costs reduced 20%

  • Increased profits

  • Greater efficiency

  • Completely automated order processing that involves some complex procedures

Microsoft Business Solutions – Navision modules:
General Ledger
Sales & Receivables
Purchase & Payables
Inventory
Cash Management
Contact Management

 



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