A timely ERP implementation helps a company strategically redirect

A fast NetSuite ERP implementation helped a global specialty food supplier change direction and stay in business during COVID-19 shutdowns.

If restaurants, hotels, and in-person events are severely restricted, temporarily closed, or even closed altogether, how can the companies that sell them food products survive? That was the challenge faced by Arabian Food Corp. (AFC), a global supplier of frozen, chilled, and dry fine-food products, based in Saudi Arabia.

The company experienced a major disruption to its business model when its business-to-business pipeline and sales for food delivery dried up due to economic restrictions brought about by the pandemic. In a period of just a few weeks, the company saw its sales plummet. It needed to adjust quickly, as its survival over the next few months was at stake.

When COVID-19 struck, initial conversations between AFC representatives and Crowe consultants were already taking place, and Crowe was engaged to help the company update its Oracle® NetSuite software. This implementation allowed AFC to improve business processes and support a strategic redirection to counter the singular challenge of COVID-19. The company decided to add a business-to-consumer (B2C) line, facilitated by the implementation of the cloud-based, integrated NetSuite ERP solution.

ERP implementation, support, and managed services for manufacturers and distributors.

Despite the unusual nature of this entirely remote implementation, Crowe specialists largely followed their normal process, including kicking off the engagement with two key questions to help determine the unique circumstances and needs of AFC: 

  • What are you doing differently compared to your competition?
  • What is your main business challenge?

From there, the Crowe team followed its standard, five-step process for developing and rolling out the platform in a way that aligned to specific objectives:

1. Structure
Review the client’s business functions and processes, and map those to the ERP.

2. Analyze
Create a series of scenarios to better understand the client’s business requirements.

3. Build
Run through a series of sprints to develop an ERP that aligns with business requirements.

4. Confirm
Conduct training programs and user interface testing.

5. Deploy
Deliver additional training and support after the go-live date.
This entire process typically takes between three and four months, but in this case, Crowe moved through it in less than three months. That’s because of the client’s outstanding commitment to getting the new ERP up and running and because the company’s core team quickly made decisions and delivered the necessary information to structure the solution. Also, Crowe established open lines of communication with AFC, which allowed our specialists to exchange messages with the company in real time during the ERP implementation process.

Another reason Crowe launched so rapidly is because of the industry-native functionality provided by the NetSuite ERP. Industry-specific capabilities and add-ons offered as part of the solution provided the majority of the functionality needed right out of the gate. With substantial input from AFC and our team’s expertise, Crowe quickly completed the ERP implementation.

Post-ERP implementation results

AFC saw immediate gains after the ERP implementation. Those gains included the following: 
  • The ERP solved some of the company’s organizational bottlenecks. For example, before this process, AFC spent a lot of time on tasks such as delivery management reports. After the implementation, that task takes a fraction of the time and effort it once did, which has freed the company up to focus on finding new customers and building relationships.
  • By adding a B2C channel, AFC drove a dramatic increase in sales volume. This increase included more than 5,000 customers per month on average, more than tripling the totals from previous years. 
  • The company has seen noticeable operational improvements. Reporting accuracy and data analytics have been enhanced, which helped expedite selling direct to consumers. Now the company easily can process individual consumer orders, which are significantly different from restaurant orders that include cartons, crates, or pallets as units of measurement.

Providing AFC with a positive, long-term outlook is the biggest single benefit of implementing the NetSuite ERP. Instead of scrambling to address the immediate problems of the present, AFC now has a long-term foundation to build on by moving into additional markets and providing new products that it couldn’t before.

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Binit Shah
Partner, Taxation & Technology
Ashkan Parpinchee
Ben Kremer
Ben Kremer