VS America

As a full-service manufacturer, VS America covers both the schools sectors and the office living and working space with intelligent furniture and integrative solutions.

Success Story

VS America manufactures and supplies premium ergonomic and environmentally-friendly furniture for schools and offices. It is the American arm of VS, a company dedicated to providing solutions for interactive learning that is continually designing innovative solutions to meet the evolving needs of today’s learners, educators, and workers.

VS is a family-run business with a parent manufacturing facility in Germany and a distribution center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company needed a solution that would connect and integrate between facilities. VS Germany operates on an SAP ® system. VS America needed a single, accessible ERP solution that would seamlessly integrate with its parent company’s SAP system.

The Discovery

One of our existing vendors recommended that VS America contact StackBench. VS America was in the market for a company that could implement an ERP solution that would scale and grow along with their organization. Its parent company strongly recommended that VS America implement SAP, however, VS America was searching for an affordable solution that could be implemented quickly and easily customized to meet their growing needs.

To begin, the StackBench team held a meet and greet at VS America’s office. We took a tour of their two offices and warehouse, which are located right here in Charlotte, North Carolina.

At the time, VS America was using multiple custom solutions, including Sage and several disconnected spreadsheets. There was a lot of time-consuming manual interfacing with VS Germany’s SAP system, as well as several middleware systems and manual data moving from another system.

Having locations in two countries presented some unique challenges. One was that much of the data coming from the parent company was in German, and the US company had to convert everything to English. Another challenge was that VS has thousands of product SKUs available, and each product has hundreds of different customization options. This made it difficult to keep track of every product and could easily lead to miscommunication between the company’s branches.

The Problem With Outdated Solutions

We were able to quickly identify the problems VS America was facing because of its use of outdated systems, including:

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

A lot of spreadsheets that required manual input.

Lack of clear documentation on existing processes.

Lack of a master products database with unique identifiers.

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

Facing The Challenges Ahead

VS America had previous experiences working with software development companies that promised results and ended up wasting time and money. They were understandably hesitant to proceed with StackBench without performing some due diligence.

Understanding VS America’s hesitancy to work with yet another company who promised to deliver exceptional IT results, StackBench recommended that they talk with our existing customers. VS America took this suggestion a step further by not only speaking with our customers but spending time onsite with some select customers in the US, including taking a couple of factory tours. Members of the VS Germany team also joined these factory tours.

While VS America was working on their due diligence, we suggested getting started on a small engagement as a pilot project to win mutual confidence and start figuring out the best ways for our companies to work together.

Uncovering A Larger Problem

StackBench started working on the small project of making a connection between the SAP Middleware and VS America’s current system. The connector, in turn, could be reused when StackBench implemented the ERP system.

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

Based on the documentation, we came up with a gap analysis document and provided a Phase 1 ERP implementation proposal to VS America. The idea was to start fresh by incorporating logical processes that worked for VS, cleaning data from existing systems, and revising some existing procedures to meet industry-standard best practices.

A Herculean Task & Challenges

We came to an agreement on the Phase 1 implementation proposal and started the work. We set two weekly meetings, one for data exploration and brainstorming with select VS department employees and another for a weekly standup on StackBench’s project development updates and planning.

We had multiple show stoppers as the data format from SAP kept changing. We had to pivot and go back to the whiteboard for newer, better methods and document a change management process.

After many changes from the original plan, all the development was deemed complete, and we moved into the training phase. For training, StackBench had two ERP consultants onsite for a week to make sure all VS America employees knew everything about the ERP system.

User acceptance testing (UAT) was done in a similar way, with employees working two half-day shifts so that they could spend one half of the day helping with testing and the other half working on their system.

Once this process was done, we effectively deployed a parallel running of current and new systems with real-time data. We set April 1st, 2020, as the complete go-live.

By the time we approached the deadline, the entire staff of StackBench and VS America was working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which imposed the biggest challenge for everyone. The excellent teamwork from VS America and StackBench made sure the go-live plans happened as scheduled, even amid a global crisis.

Delivering Quality
Results, The First Time

Post go-live, we decided to take a break to analyze all the key performance indicators for VS America. Mr. Mark Harvey, CFO of VS America, was in constant touch with StackBench’s CEO, Anoop Menon, and VP Of Business Solutions, Vinod SP, to get all the data back.

The impressive results were clearly visible, and the VS team started asking for additional feature requests to improve the system further. We jointly agreed to do Phase 1.1, which will be feature requests, and Phase 1.2 to document requirements for Phase 2.

Contributing Factors To
VS America’s Success

Our customers have the greatest success stories when they work with us as partners. VS America became a success story in part because its company leaders took the time to listen to the StackBench team and performed due diligence by speaking with our previous customers and touring their facilities.

When they decided to work with us, the VS team had representatives from the US and Germany who embraced change and listened to all of the suggestions presented by the StackBench team. They brought their employees onboard to ensure a smooth transition.

Because of mutual respect between our companies and a shared commitment to get to the root of the problem, StackBench and VS America formed a great partnership. We enjoy joint success and look forward to continuing to work with VS America to bring new features to their ERP system that will help them as they continue to grow and scale.

“StackBench helped us develop a custom application that drastically improved our internal document processing. They succeeded where several other companies had failed. It was a straightforward process, and the application was delivered on time. They have a customer-focused approach that helped us to feel at ease throughout the process.”

– Sam Hatch

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