Stout Stuff

Fresh Innovation and Design

Success Story

Stout Stuff LLC specializes in designing and manufacturing innovative, quality products at extremely competitive prices to provide exceptional value to retailers and customers. Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, Stout Stuff has manufacturing facilities in Ohio and China. They also have warehouses across the US, making a streamlined logistics and distribution process critical.

Stout Stuff has multiple branded and white-labeled products sold throughout the United States via Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Home Depot, PetSmart, Atwoods, Target, and RuralKing.

The Discovery

Mr. Steve Hartman, IT Director for Stout Stuff, is the heart of the technology division for Stout Stuff. When StackBench first met Steve, Stout Stuff was using QuickBooks for accounting and finance and custom applications built by Steve and his team for everything else.

Steve wanted to introduce an ERP system that would run the entire business, and he needed a proven company to take care of implementation and maintenance so he could focus on his other priority job as the Director of Logistics.

After conducting his research, Steve narrowed his options down to two solutions: NetSuite ERP and Odoo ERP. Steve reached out to multiple NetSuite partners and multiple Odoo partners, which is how StackBench became a contender. Mr. Anoop Menon, CEO of StackBench, flew to Bentonville, Arkansas to spend two days with the Stout Stuff core team and owners to get a deeper understanding of the challenges they were facing.

The visit included a meet and greet at Stout Stuff’s office and a tour of their warehouse. At the time, Stout Stuff was using multiple custom solutions, including QuickBooks, several spreadsheets, and a lot of scripts doing EDI batches with all their retail partners. There were also a bunch of middleware systems and manual data moving from one system to another.

One significant challenge was the lack of documentation. Also, Stout Stuff has thousands of product SKUs available with a short life cycle, ranging from patent approval to taking the product off the shelf. Tracking all these moving parts using outdated systems was nothing short of a logistical nightmare.

The Problem With Outdated Solutions

Spending a few days with the Stout Stuff team was enough for us to quickly realize the challenges the company faced because of their outdated systems, including:

An abundance of spreadsheets.

Manual re-entry of data, which is error-prone.

Lack of clear documentation on existing processes.

Multiple custom-developed scripts, which were not synchronous.

Several disconnected solutions that didn’t talk to each other and were built on outdated technologies.

Challenges Ahead

Stout Stuff had worked with other companies on similar software development projects in the past and ended up getting burned and wasting valuable time and money.

StackBench understood Stout Stuff’s initial hesitancy to work with yet another software company promising exceptional results. That’s why we recommended that they talk with our existing customers to get a better understanding of our methodology and ability to deliver results.

While Stout Staff was working on their due diligence, we suggested starting a small engagement as a pilot project to win mutual confidence and start learning how our companies would work together.

The Bigger Problem

StackBench started working on the initial engagement, which was to document all existing processes, software, algorithms, and mastering all the EDI documentation of Stout Staff’s retail partners. We set up a weekly standup meeting so that Stout Stuff and StackBench could be on the same page as far as ongoing tasks and planning.

We started documenting all the cumbersome processes, as many were redundant, and several were undocumented and sitting inside the heads of key people in the company. This step involved holding multiple onsite and web conference meetings to include team members from different parts of the US and China.

Based on our documentation, we came up with a gap analysis report and provided a Phase 1 ERP implementation proposal to Stout Stuff. The idea was to start fresh by incorporating logical processes that would work for them, cleaning data from existing systems, and revising some existing procedures to industry-standard best practices.

A Herculean Task & Challenges

StackBench and Stout Stuff came to an agreement on the Phase 1 implementation proposal, and we immediately got to work. We continued holding weekly standup meetings to stay on track and address any concerns or questions sooner rather than later. We completed the implementation in record time and started working on training before moving into the user acceptance testing (UAT) process.

For training, StackBench brought two ERP consultants onsite for a week who made sure all Stout Staff employees knew everything they needed to know about their new ERP system. We similarly addressed UAT, with employees taking two half-day shifts so that they helped with the testing during one half and worked on their previous system during the other half.

Once the team was trained and UAT testing was completed, we effectively deployed a parallel running of current and new systems using real-time data. We did this parallel running for six months to win the customer’s confidence in the ERP system. We then set a specific date as the complete go-live.

A week after Stout Stuff went live, we had a major networking routing issue in the data center we chose for them, followed by hardware failure. Fortunately, StackBench had redundant backups in place and was able to get them back online in less than 30 minutes.

Interestingly enough, we had already scheduled disaster recovery testing, but ended up doing disaster recovery in real-time, and the metrics were better than our SLA had stipulated. The excellent teamwork and collaboration between Stout Stuff and StackBench made sure the go-live plans happened as scheduled.

Delivering Quality
Results, the First Time

Post go-live, we did a couple of new phases with new feature requests. These requirements were documented onsite by the StackBench team. The remarkable results with the automation were clearly visible, and the Stout Stuff team started asking more feature requests to improve the system further. Currently, we are working on upgrading Stout Stuff’s ERP to the latest stable version.

Contributing Factors to
Stout Stuff’s Success

When companies work with us as partners, we can deliver fantastic results and turn their challenges into success stories. Stout Stuff was successful primarily because of the collaboration that happened between our two companies.

Steve did his research when choosing a software development company to work with and performed due diligence to ensure that StackBench was the best company to serve Stout Stuff’s needs. Stout Stuff’s leadership team embraced change and worked directly with StackBench to ensure a smooth implementation. We have enjoyed partnering with Stout Stuff and look forward to future collaboration.

“Great company and team. StackBench has partnered with our company to replace Quickbooks with Odoo as our Enterprise Resource Planning system. We finally now have the enterprise system our company needs to now scale and grow on, and I personally can now sleep at night without fear that our Quickbooks data file won’t go corrupt in the night and leave us unable to conduct our business. Thanks to Anoop, Melissa, and Vinod and all the team behind the scene that take care of us daily!”

– Steve Hartman, Director of IT & Logistics

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