North Arm Transportation Ltd. (North Arm) has been in operations since 1930. North Arm operates a number of tugs and barges to provide fuel, freight, charter, towing and lumber re-load services to their clients along the BC coast. Today, North Arm’s primary businesses are fuel sales and marine transportation. The business has 3 main locations – the Head Office in Vancouver offers a repair facility and moorage, Mitchell Island offers freight and re-loading and storage and Masset offers fuel storage for retail and transfer to trucks for land delivery.
North Arm found itself supporting a slow, aging financial system, leaving the company vulnerable should the system ever shut down. The system was unable to keep up with changing processes in the business and in order to generate monthly reports, staff spent hours manipulating data manually in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
Furthermore, these Excel files were manually consolidated to provide North Arm management with the most critical reports and generation of these reports was dependent on a select group of North Arm employees. This left North Arm exposed to a massive business disruption that would result in a variety of issues including added time to run the business with paper processes and added time and cost of performing an emergency implementation.
North Arm needed a scalable solution that provided an easy, fast, and real time reporting capability beside the regular financial/operational functionalities, and most importantly, with local support. After seeing what Microsoft Dynamics NAV could do and knowing the partner from previous experiences, the Director of Finance, Dean Wilcox, and his team decided to choose Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Business Intelligence.
North Arm chose to follow a multi-phase implementation. The first phase, over the course of two months, was to replace the existing financial system and automate the current reports. This included Business Intelligence reports with SharePoint to provide easier access to information and more accurate reporting. The project was executed with a combination of pricing models – a fixed price financial implementation and a Time & Material portion for the Business Intelligence & Reporting development, which worked well for North Arm.
Marianna, North Arm’s Controller, was sure that they would have to run the systems parallel, which could have caused system adoption issues and increased workload. However, an implementation plan was put in place that used a combination of testing, training and workshops to prevent the company from having to run parallel.
Implementing Dynamics NAV has resulted in North Arm having a supported scalable system with accelerated reporting times and improved visibility into Key Performance Indicators.
Fully Supported System
One of the big concerns with the old system was a lack of support and the system shutting down. With local support and experience that North Arm can rely on, they can continue to improve business their systems. With Microsoft Dynamics NAV, North Arm has a scalable, supported system to assure them secure financial information.
Staff at the Masset location can now access the ERP system using remote desktop connection to generate/post invoices. They no longer need to fax in Excel spread sheets and paper documents to the main office for central file keeping. As a result, the amount of time spent on duplicate data entry has been significantly reduced and the most up-to-date information is captured in the ERP system.
More Efficient and Accurate Reporting
Reporting used to take massive amount of time each month. It can now be accomplished with “a few mouse clicks”. Users are now able to generate reports with real time information at anytime. In addition, North Arm fully utilizes the unique Account Schedule and Dimension functionalities in Dynamics NAV and is now able to create the traditional financial statement dynamically for various types of trips, locations, and fuel barges.
External Access to data Business Intelligence reports added with SharePoint Services provides North Arm the ability to distribute reports to users who are not licensed on NAV, which leads to saving in licensing and training costs, and a more secure ERP system.
Improved business insight
Access to information is now in a usable form. Information is centralized and stored in the NAV SQL database. Owners can now analyze data and make business decisions based on real-time data. Eventually this will help with planning on which boat to use for what trip depending on the conditions.
“The old system is just a memory” according to Director of Finance, Dean Wilcox, who is looking forward to new phases happening over the next 5 years to ease up daily tasks and create more reports to helping business decision-making.