Customer Success: ArcherPoint Migrates CCA and B from QuickBooks to Dynamics NAV
Creatively Classic Activities and Books (CCA and B, LLC) is the home of the bestselling Christmas tradition, The Elf on the Shelf®. This family-owned publishing company launched in 2005 to publish its flagship title, The Elf on the Shelf®: A Christmas Tradition—which soars to the top of multiple bestseller lists year after year. A line of interactive books, toys, and even a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade® have followed. The company has appeared three times on Inc. Magazine’s list of the country’s fastest growing private companies, and its products and owners have garnered numerous awards from notable names in the toy and book industries.
Since opening its doors in 2005, CCA and B has sold almost 10 million box sets and has over 34,000 followers on Twitter, more than 1.3 million fans on Facebook, and nearly 125,000 Instagram followers.
While no one will argue that growth is a bad thing, rapid growth like CCA and B has experienced can present its challenges. In less than ten years, the company had evolved from a small startup to a serious player, but they were still using QuickBooks and spreadsheets to run the business. The company had far outgrown this setup and was beginning to feel it: Disparate systems and manual processes were on their way to impacting efficiency and the bottom line in an organization with in-house product development, illustration, art, legal, compliance, quality, marketing, and HR, as well as supply chain. The business needed a single, end-to-end ERP solution that could be tailored to its present and future needs.
Requirements included the following:
- The primary challenge was serving very large retailers and very small retailers. The new solution would need to meet the requirements of the most stringent national retailers, which involved EDI. This is such an important component of CCA and B’s business that the company employs a full-time EDI specialist. However, the company wanted to continue to provide personalized service to small specialty retailers. The new solution needed to allow customer service representatives to process small orders. Regardless of the customer or process, the company has always strived to stay lean and nimble, so smart automation was key.
- Because it is a seasonal business, CCA and B contracts with a 3PL to help manage distribution. A modest warehouse in Atlanta, Georgia, handles smaller orders and returns, but much of the activity occurs at the 3PL location. Therefore, CCA and B not only needed a robust warehouse management solution with shipping automation and advanced forecasting and procurement functionality, but the solution needed to allow for seamless operations between headquarters and the 3PL.
- Many of CCA and B’s smaller customers pay via credit card, so the company needed a PCI-compliant credit card solution that provided batch processing functionality.
- Due to the seasonality of the business, customers typically place orders throughout the year but do not require delivery until September or October. The system needed to have a trigger to ship and charge a credit card or generate an invoice.
- The solution required a landed cost and container tracking functionality so CCA and B could track product from source through receipt into inventory.
- CCA and B also needed a customizable interface to fit the business processes and accommodate the business rules.
- Due to the large workforce of seasonal employees, the system needed to be easy to learn and use while protecting sensitive data. Therefore, role-based functionality was important, in addition to the ability to add and remove fields from screens.
Dave Hatker, Vice President of IT for CCA and B and a veteran in automation consulting with FedEx, spearheaded the research into a new ERP solution. After attending Microsoft Convergence, now known as Microsoft Envision, he narrowed the field to Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics NAV because both products are focused on mid-market companies, highly supported by Microsoft and their respective channels, reasonably priced, and easy to maintain.
At Convergence, Dave met members of the ArcherPoint team. He was impressed by ArcherPoint’s unique business analysis and implementation methodologies, as well as the depth of business and NAV experience on the team.
According to Dave, talking to customers as well as other influencers, including the NAV User Group (NAVUG), was what impressed him the most—about the product and ArcherPoint. “It was powerful to speak to customers because NAV users love their systems. They believe the sky is the limit with NAV…you can do anything you want with it,” Dave said. “We also talked to several ArcherPoint customers, who recommended finding a partner with resources, experience, a methodology, and a strong project management discipline…and they agreed that ArcherPoint possessed all of these qualities.”
Ultimately, the decision to go with NAV and ArcherPoint came down to NAV’s usability, scalability, and flexibility—which would allow the system to be customized and grow with the company, which meant the system would stay with the company for many years—as well as “a little bit of emotion,” said Dave. “The passion users have for NAV and the enthusiasm of ArcherPoint’s customers said a lot.”
Because they were transitioning from QuickBooks, CCA and B needed to take a fresh look at the entire organization and all its processes. They started off with a requirements analysis, working closely with ArcherPoint to gather user stories, data dictionaries, and process flows. During the process, they identified key areas to focus on—including the decision to either customize NAV to fit the process or adjust the process because NAV presented a more efficient way of doing it. For example, they replaced their method for handling credit cards with an automated process.
Another area that would change dramatically was data access. The new NAV system would provide more information than ever before, so the company needed to decide how they wanted to handle reporting as well as adjusting key performance indicators.
As CCA and B was going live with the new NAV system, they brought on Charles Ruark as Director of Business Systems. In this role, Charles would be in charge of the company’s ERP system and overall change management, working closely with all departments to ensure the system was optimized for each function. With a powerful system, information and functionality are abundant—which also opens the door to confusion and issues with security. Using the power of the RoleTailored Client in NAV, Charles worked with each department to ensure role centers were appropriate and consistent.
CCA and B’s new NAV solution met their requirements and more:
- An efficient returns management process, which did not exist previously
- Multiple, disparate systems combined into one solution
- A complete EDI solution for large retail customers as well as the company’s 3PL partner
- Full warehouse management and shipping functionality with email integration
- PCI compliant credit card solution within NAV that allowed the company to queue up transactions in a batch, ready to ship upon credit card authorization
- A landed cost and container tracking system for product manufactured overseas
- A back-order system, which did not exist previously
The new solution went live and has been handling CCA and B’s continued growth seamlessly. The company has seen a reduction in returns and shipping errors, EDI functionality allows the system to smoothly handle relationships with 30 trading partners, the learning curve with new employees has been reduced, and management of inventory and lead times has improved.
Another unexpected benefit from the new system was confidence. “We walk into the room with a new customer and feel confident in what we’re talking about, what we’re doing, and how to set up our partnership,” Dave said. “We can do all these things because we not only have the best people, but we have a best-in-class ERP system in Dynamics NAV. Good system, good people, good data—it all works together.”
The company has also gained technical confidence. In fact, they purchased a Dynamics NAV Application Developer License and upgraded to NAV 2015 on their own, requiring only minimal involvement from ArcherPoint.
“Dynamics NAV has allowed us to mature as a company because of the processes and functions that are now available to us,” Dave continued. “We’ve been able to go places we could never have gone before.”