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With the limitations of handwritten and Excel-based procedures, it was decided to implement an ERP solution

Centre Ingredient Technology, Inc., (CIT), manufactures and supplies natural flavor ingredients for the food and beverage industries. Although based in the U.S., CIT is owned by the Takasago International Corporation headquartered in Japan. The business side of the enterprise is handled by a small team of four whose duties include accounting, personnel, production planning, and more. Previously, most of these functions were done either by hand, with accounting software, or with Excel spreadsheets; the team felt a need to overcome these limitations to integrate and leverage information better and more efficiently.

For these reasons, CIT targeted an ERP strategy and solution. Also, since ERPs create permanent authentication records, audits became more thorough and robust and information-sharing with other locations becomes possible in ways unimaginable using previous methods. As such, an ERP solution seemed indispensable.

With no need for the scale of S/4HANA, SAP Business One was the optimal solution

The ERP choice was made: it was SAP Business One. Once things like the need for ERP and the size of the company had been discussed with head office, the process flowed smoothly and quickly and became a group-wide decision based on an SAP solution.

Well, said Kawamata, reminiscing, “of course we looked at S/4HANA but they were just too much for our needs. The next step, then, was to examine other SAP ERP products and since SAP Business One suited us and had worked well with other group companies, the decision was a natural one. Another consideration was that if we wanted to migrate to S/4HANA in the future, the upgrade would be smooth, which was another positive.

The actual rollout was implemented by be one solutions Japan – introduced to CIT by SAP. Although the CIT executives had no intention of making a decision based solely on a first meeting, the be one solutions Japan team not only impressed with their in-depth knowledge of the technical issues and implementation process, but also with the thoughtful way they imparted the plan and information. Other important factors that had to be taken into consideration for a successful rollout were CIT’s small staff and that they were based in the United States. After a complete evaluation, CIT felt confident and convinced that be one solutions Japan was the perfect fit.

How be one solutions Japan successfully completed the rollout project remotely with a small team

Both Kawamata and Koizumi agree that the rollout project occurred under truly remarkable circumstances. Even though it commenced only at the end of last year, everything was handled in a truly professional manner and went from scratch to live and fully operational in a mere seven months.

The first noteworthy thing about this project is that it was done exclusively remotely. Two things dictated why: first, of course, was the COVID pandemic and second was the vast distance separating the U.S. and Japan. Adding the time difference and that only a small team was involved, the remarkable process of the rollout appears even more amazing, especially given such a successful result. Also, when looking more closely, all of these seemingly negative aspects actually became pluses. Since the CIT team consisted of only four people all with regular day-time tasks, working on the project as a group during off-hours helped them coordinate. Also, getting together after business hours meant they could discuss the ERP rollout at a time coincidentally matching the start of Japan’s business day. Thus, the project’s remote aspects for both the U.S.- and Japan-based teams benefited everyone. Discussions were held and issues solved via screen-sharing with everything going smoothly and cooperatively – not in spite of the remote working environment but actually because of it! It is hard to imagine just how few problems there were, the CIT team said.

In terms of infrastructure, a Cloud-based solution was deemed optimal. For small companies, it was the best option because doing otherwise would require a dedicated IT person, difficult for a smaller organization. Since using the Cloud is simpler and less labor-intensive, it was really the best match, especially considering the rollout had to be done remotely. Besides the Cloud, something else CIT needed was a unified contact point and one of the reasons they selected be one solutions Japan was that they could provide and support every aspect of the rollout – for which CIT was truly grateful. It also can’t be forgotten that be one solutions Japan stepped up and did things like migrating master data and layout creation, tasks usually performed by the client. Since Mr. Kawamata had a working knowledge of the ERP implementation process, he understood just how much be one solutions Japan brought to the project and he was pleasantly impressed. Mr. Koizumi added: “I must also say that be one solutions Japan answered all our questions very quickly, carefully, and accurately in both the lead-up phase as well as once we were operational and that their maintenance is top-notch. I totally trust them.

User-friendly SAP Business One and the warm, thoughtful support of be one solutions Japan

The rollout of SAP Business One delivered numerous benefits. Work and information related to production or shipping that just couldn’t be done or was unavailable using accounting software or Excel suddenly became easily accessible and easily shared. Also, because it isn’t a large-scale ERP like S/4HANA and is designed for small businesses, SAP Business One has proved flexible and user-friendly.

Even things like signatures are now done using SAP Business One. Other functions like auditing and internal controls are all also extremely robust and the staff are beyond happy. Mr. Kawamata said this:

Even though I was the only one with ERP experience among the four of us and had to start with a basic introduction through to the rollout, now we’re all skilled users. SAP Business One is simply amazing and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to be one solutions Japan.

Since September 2021, meetings with be one solutions Japan are scheduled weekly. And, even though CIT hasn’t yet moved into full implementation mode, the CIT team still feels extremely grateful for be one solutions Japan’s outstanding support and detailed understanding.

The current and continuing successful partnership between CIT and be one solutions Japan

My final question was about Mr. Kawamata’s impressions of be one solutions Japan and SAP Business One.

If you ask me or anyone else here, we think SAP Business One is nothing less than a comprehensive ERP. And, even though our group’s main system is S/4HANA, for a smaller group company like ours, I think Business One is absolutely perfect and we just can’t thank be one solutions Japan enough.

Mr. Koizumi added: “For small- or medium-sized enterprises, I can think of nothing more ideal than SAP Business One. And, as for be one solutions Japan, they’re the perfect partner. They listened to our needs, met them, and then were indispensable to our flawless rollout.

Heading into their next business cycle, CIT has planned some system updates targeted for the year-end as well as some other short-term projects. As such, they envisage partnering with be one solutions Japan both short term and well into the future.

 

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