Managing flowers with Dynamics NAV

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At iNECTA we have worked with many different industries. Some tend to lend themselves well to the standard ERP methodology, others bite and scratch when you try to cage them. One of those is the floral industry. We have had quite an exposure to flower companies and know that some paths which would sound intuitive at first could become a complete catastrophe very quickly.

The flower business is a very interesting one. Most companies that deal with flowers know that it is hard work. Operations start extremely early in the morning and go late into the night. During heavy seasons such as Valentines and Mother’s day, the workload is pretty much 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand. This alone makes it a challenging feat for implementing a software system. Nothing can go wrong and if it does there is not much time to react and fix the issue.

Long hours and high load are not the only challenges. The product itself poses many difficulties for a system that is meant to organize the processes of a company. As pleasant as flowers are to the eye, they can be extremely unpleasant to work with. Different flowers can look similar so they are easily mistaken one for another. You can’t stick a barcode label on a stem of flower and the boxes they come in are very often opened and broken up. They move in large volumes through the supply chain and are relatively inexpensive by themselves. Vendors do not always send the same volume or product as the buyer buys and that is generally accepted in the industry. The customers do not always receive what they order and that is also accepted as long as the sales person understands the relationship and generally what the customer wants. Those are only some of the issues faced when working with flowers.

Personally, I welcome challenges as these to work with and in my opinion, only a very flexible ERP system, such as Dynamics NAV, stands a chance in fully adding value to an industry that has such difficult business processes.

Most of the time in these environments the companies manage to capture the sales and purchase process inside a system. Since inventory expires quickly they don’t have to account as much for it when figuring out their gross margin. This is of course the minimal way of tracking the business and completely ignores the product in the process. It takes away any possibility of managing the supply chain. The brave businesses will tackle sales and purchasing processes separately. But when they try to connect the two together everything blows up.

The trick is to understand flowers and the people who work with them. The system will have to dynamically align itself with the ebb and flow of product and be smart enough to realize when things do not exactly match. It has to be nimble enough to react without compromising the integrity of the data or speed of data entry.

As we have plied through the trials and tribulations of making the business processes and systems just perfect for this industry, it has been easy to find motivation to go on. All we had to do is look around us and find ourselves surrounded by one of the most beautiful things on earth, flowers.

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