The time and expense involved in upgrading business management software often causes companies to avoid a much-needed upgrade for too long. That has real consequences, as older software platforms aren't able to keep up with new technology advancements, which deprives companies of the benefits of those new technologies.
Oregon-based Automotive Service Parts (ASP) recently upgraded its business software, allowing the distributor to improve efficiency, provide better visibility into sales and inventory, and enhance its delivery operations.
ASP was formerly Eugene Service Parts, an independent auto parts warehouse distributor in Eugene and Medford, Ore. It has been in business since 1974. The company started as a repair shop and automotive service center, and then branched out into parts distribution in the late 1970s. The company then acquired another local distributor. ASP now operates two warehouses, along with a service center and machine shop, and has 66 employees. ASP operates as a two-step distributor.
Originally, ASP used Epicor's Prism solution. The business ran on that platform until 2014, when the company implemented Epicor's Vision system and Epicor Compass analytics software. The company simultaneously deployed a GPS-based vehicle tracking system to help track deliveries.
"We had known we needed to move to a different platform for a while, but we stuck with Prism because it was easier and less expensive than upgrading," says vice president and co-owner Gary Davis. "But we needed a system that was more compatible with general computing. We wanted to be able to do things faster, and do things in Excel and then move the data back into the system. It was cumbersome to do that with the old platform."
For larger product lines, it was difficult for the company to run any type of report or create tracking spreadsheets. "We just needed to break an old habit," Davis says. "It's hard to shake everybody up when you're in business. People get comfortable with the way they do things. When you change the software, you're really going to rock their world."
Better data analysis
The updated software has streamlined several operations, and enabled new functionality. When orders are called in to the company's call center, a parts list on the invoice is printed at the warehouse. Warehouse staff pull the parts and take them to a sort table, where they are scanned to match each invoice. Drivers call the warehouse when they are five minutes out from arrival, which serves as a signal for the dispatcher to scan their runs. The parts are placed in a cart by the dock door with each driver's name attached. As soon as they arrive, they can load the parts and begin their deliveries.