Malibu Boats is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of performance sport boats, with the #1 market share position in the United States since 2010. The Company has two brands of high performance sport boats, Malibu and Axis Wake Research (Axis). Since inception in 1982, the Company has been a consistent innovator in the powerboat industry, designing products that appeal to an expanding range of recreational boaters and water sports enthusiasts whose passion for boating and water sports is a key aspect of their lifestyle.
THE CHALLENGE: STREAMLINE ORDER PROCESSING TO ALLOW THE COMPANY TO GROW
One of the ways Malibu Boats sets itself apart from other boat manufacturers is to offer highly-customized products: “Our product is very flexible and complex,” explains Greg Ward, Vice President of Information Systems for Malibu Boats. “In the sales process, customers sit down with the dealer and choose between many options to get exactly the boat they want. That means there are a lot of variables that can make each order quite complex.” When considering all the components, the colors, the accessories, and all the boat frames that customers can choose from, there are approximately 50-million different combinations of configurations Malibu can manufacture. “I don’t think we have ever made the same boat twice,” Ward says.
To support this high level of configurability, Malibu Boats provided dealers with two separate website ordering systems (one for each major boat type sold) so that dealers could configure and submit an order. But the ordering and ERP systems were disconnected, so getting accurate product data into the website systems and getting accurate orders into the ERP system was a challenge.
The company used Microsoft Dynamics GP to generate a bill of materials (BOM), but then had to manually enter the feature set into two separate website ordering systems (one for each major product line sold) so that dealers could configure and submit an order. Similarly, when an order was submitted, someone would have to check the order to make sure that it could be configured as requested and then manually enter the order into Dynamics GP.
The manual process of moving data between Dynamics GP and the websites would sometimes lead to errors that delayed the start of fulfilling boat orders. The process also created the possibility that orders were sometimes submitted for configurations that were not available.
“It was a very tedious process, and there was a lot of back and forth with dealers and customers to make sure we had an order right,” Ward says. “As our business grew and orders increased, this started to become an issue. We wanted to grow the business, and we knew that the current systems and processes we had just weren’t going to support us in that effort.”
THE SOLUTION: SCRIBE PROVIDES VITAL DATA INTEGRATION BETWEEN CRM AND ERP
With the company’s growth continuing, Ward knew the previous system would not support the sales and manufacturing processes. He and his team hoped to identify a solution that would combine the two product-line ordering systems into one and integrate those systems directly with the bill-of-materials process in Dynamics GP.
While reviewing proposals from two Microsoft solution partners, Malibu Boats identified Microsoft Dynamics CRM as the key front-end sales component. Both solution partners also recommended Scribe’s integration platform as the ideal solution to synchronize data between Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP.
“Based on the input from both solution providers, Scribe is hands-down the best and most efficient way to execute two-way data flows between Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP,” Ward says. “Scribe also offers connectors to many other enterprise applications, so we now have the option to streamline data movement to other systems, such as a data warehouse, in the future.”
Having worked with a number of ETL tools in the past, Ward was not familiar with Scribe, but he quickly picked up on the benefits it delivers in connecting data between applications. “Scribe is a fully-capable data integration tool—whether users need to look up data in another system, combine data from two systems, or push data to a data warehouse,” Ward says. “Because of the flexibility Scribe offers in connecting our CRM and ERP systems, our internal teams can to do their jobs more efficiently—with access to accurate, real-time data.”
Scribe’s ease-of-use has also enabled Ward to bring more of the work to configure and maintain the data connectors in-house. “We started off relying on our Microsoft partner to handle these two tasks, but we are now doing some of the data connector work ourselves,” says Ward. “It’s fairly easy to pick up.”
THE RESULTS: ACCELERATED ORDER PROCESSING AND INCREASED SALES—WITHOUT ADDING STAFF
With Scribe transferring data back-and-forth in real time, the details of the BOM in Dynamics GP are accurately transferred to the ordering system used by the dealers, and orders are automatically passed back to the scheduling system.
“With no more manual data-entry, we also experience much fewer errors,” Ward adds.
Since deploying Scribe to connect Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GP, the volume of business that Malibu Boats is conducting has increased 33%. And thanks to the efficiencies the company has gained—by integrating and flowing data automatically among sales orders, bills-of-material, and manufacturing— the number of resources needed to support those processes has not increased.
Ward estimates the time to process and fulfill sales orders has been reduced by 25% since connecting Dynamics CRM and Dynamics GRP through Scribe. The internal sales team no longer has to go back-and-forth multiple times with dealers to get orders right.
“In addition to handling orders much more efficiently, we have also accelerated the process for when we start to build boats,” Shaw says. “In some cases, we are starting a week earlier than we used to. That means orders complete and ship earlier, and the invoice and payment process also occurs earlier.”
The sales order process is also proving beneficial to the Malibu dealer network. As configuration data is updated in Dynamics GP, Scribe automatically transfers it to Dynamics CRM. From there, the data is pushed to the dealer portals. By working with accurate, up-to-date boat configuration information, dealers work more efficiently with customers, and that helps them close more deals.
“Whether it’s our dealers or someone on one of our internal teams—sales, accounting, customer service and production—we all benefit from having immediate access to more information,” Ward says. “As data flows between our CRM and ERP systems, we always know the latest pricing, configuration and warranty information. That makes it easier for us to work with our dealers and for our dealers to work with their customers.”