Family-owned trading company, See Hoy Chan Agencies, traces its origins back to the 1930’s when its founder, Dato Teo Hang Sam, began trading in sundry goods. The business soon expanded into other ventures, including the distribution of Ajinomoto food seasoning products in West Malaysia. In addition to its 3,000 regular customers, the company also handles several thousand ad-hoc customers on temporary cash terms. On average, this amounts to more than 4,000 transactions per month.
Today, the company has four offices across Malaysia and distributes more than 100 stock-keeping units (SKUs). Its rapid growth introduced challenges in inventory management, especially as the sales team had to manually issue invoices to customers each time an order was received.
After shortlisting three ERP vendors, See Hoy Chan Agencies selected SYSPRO because it best suited their operations and fulfilled all its requirements. SYSPRO partner Cosmo Synergy handled the implementation, which included designing new workflows, training staff, and equipping the sales force with Intermec handheld terminals and portable printers.
Thanks to SYSPRO, the company now has better visibility and improved efficiency in the way it operates. The implementation helped See Hoy Chan Agencies increase sales by 3.3% (+US$750 000) over the previous year. See Hoy Chan Agencies can now more easily analyze and understand its customers’ buying patterns, as well as identify reasons why certain products are not selling well.
Moving Beyond Manual Processes
Before the deployment of an ERP system, See Hoy Chan Agencies clerks had to manually enter payment data into Excel spreadsheets, and checks had to be handed over to the Accounting Department to be documented. With only 16 sales staff supporting the expanding business, it was clear the company needed a more robust backend system to help better optimize the workflow.Teo Tee Cheang, Assistant Operations Manager at See Hoy Chan Agencies, says sales and collection data was prone to errors, and the customer base was consistently increasing. “Information required by the management team could only be provided after two months. There was just way too much paperwork and too many delays in producing reports on sales, stocks, and collection,” he says.
Cheang realized the company needed to implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system coupled with sales force automation software. He wanted to equip the sales force team with handheld terminals so customer data could be captured and tracked anytime, anywhere.“The mobile terminals would enable us to acquire more accurate and updated information on our customers’ buying patterns such as frequency of purchases, types of SKUs purchased, and accurate stock inventory of all our warehouses and goods in sales vans,” he explains. The first phase was completed in April 2012 and the deployment team spent the next six months identifying and resolving issues that popped up. By October 2012, the ERP and sales force automation system was extended to all office branches.
Accuracy and Visibility
The company also reduced manual errors. ”With SYSPRO reporting capabilities, we can identify areas in our business operations that present risks to the company,” Cheang says. “For example, some of our regular customers are on credit terms. Now we can identify any lapse in the collection and work to rectify this.” With the sales figures compiled using SYSPRO, data can be provided to customers located in the surrounding areas to help them identify See Hoy Chan products that are generating high sales returns. The management team now has access to month-end closing reports within seven days. “In fact, we’ve closed our books for the previous month and just two days later, I’m already looking at and finalizing reports that will be submitted to the management team,” Cheang says. “Before SYSPRO, it took us as very long time to collect all the sales orders, manually enter them, manually tally them up with the inventory, and then match that up with the payment collections.”He can monitor sales figures and highlight areas that need improvements to the sales force team during their mid-month review. The team can take immediate action and work to meet or exceed their sales target in the remaining weeks of the month. While employees were initially resistant to changes, many soon realized the benefits of SYSPRO as they are now able to easily assess their performance as well as customer and sales records. Cheang comments: “Adoption of any technology can take a while, especially with a sales force that has been accustomed to manual sales collection for the past 20 to 30 years.”