Over Wiley Companies’ 30-plus years providing nutritional ingredients and performance materials for a variety of industries, the Coshocton, Ohio-based manufacturer has established itself as a leader in the fine chemicals space. Today, the business produces some 50 million pounds of chemistry each year, including more than 1.5 billion doses of its well-known Omega-3 fish oil products.
That said, for as much success as the organization has experienced, Director of IT Thomas Dean Watson saw potential for improvement—especially with regards to Wiley Companies’ technological solutions. He spearheaded a relatively recent conversion of the business’s Aptean ERP system to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model to harness the benefits of cloud technology, including greater agility and scalability for continued growth.
“We moved to SaaS in 2019. I had a push to move to cloud optimization as part of my IT strategy in general,” Watson said. “We have one site now but the potential to move into more manufacturing sites, and moving to the cloud just makes that easier across the board.”
Facilitating future expansion was only one of the reasons for the change. Watson knew that the re-implementation involved was a chance for the organization get more out of its ERP software, so he worked closely with Aptean’s customer support teams to identify opportunities to roll out extra features and educate employees on how to better use those functionalities already at their fingertips.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the journey and share the results. Watson also has some valuable words of wisdom for other business decision-makers considering the deployment of Aptean cloud-based software.
Converting to SaaS: The Right Move at the Right Time
At the time the decision to convert to a SaaS model was made, Wiley Companies was in the midst of rebranding and adopting the current name, and thus the two projects became linked and moved forward together. The accelerated project timeline was certainly a challenge, but the ambition paid off and helped the business minimize any downtime.
“We worked with Aptean to basically re-implement in 90 days, which was this unheard-of idea at the time,” Watson said with a smile.
The switch to this deployment method was also a great chance to clean up the ERP database, so that was another major undertaking tackled at that time. Then, not long after the process was complete, the pandemic struck, bringing with it stay-at-home orders and an immediate need to find new ways of working—but Wiley Companies was covered thanks to the easy accessibility of cloud solutions.
“To be honest, SaaS saved us, because otherwise we would have had the same issues everyone else had in 2020,” Watson said. “We moved there because of my drive for cloud optimization, but when we had to send everyone home, our IT didn’t have to scramble.”
“Everyone just went home and continued working—we didn’t skip a beat. I didn’t have to spend on VPN connections for the on-prem server. Everything was handled by Aptean, and we just had to log in via a web browser,” he concluded.
That kind of resilience to disruption is a major benefit of cloud technology. When all an employee needs is a Wi-Fi connection and a web browser to access the systems they need, remote working becomes a reliable way to keep the business moving forward, even in periods of uncertainty.
Unlocking Greater Utilization: Rolling Out the System in Phases
As the pandemic subsided and Wiley Companies gained its footing with the new SaaS implementation of the system, the focus shifted to fully leveraging the costing features of Aptean’s cloud ERP. Watson knew the business needed greater clarity on costs at each stage of production. Cleaning up the master product list, general ledger and accounting tables were also key objectives.
“All of that information existed before in Excel spreadsheets, but it’s not like it could be used to do anything,” he said. “But now, the ERP is giving us that information on a real-time basis, which allows us to make adjustments to our products, and that helps keep us profitable.”
Of course, this was merely a first step toward greater utilization of the ERP solution. The next phase includes rolling out the material requirements planning (MRP) and master production scheduling (MPS) features of the software, as well as other modules beyond the basic production, logistics and sales functionalities.
“Moving to a better costing model is giving us ideas on the other side,” Watson said. “Now we’re able to apply that model back and look at where we can make improvements in our business and plant operations based on efficiency, deployment costs, how many times we have to re-run certain processes and why.”
Approaching the rollout with a plan to build upon each subsequent stage is serving Wiley Companies well. By ensuring that each is completed fully and staff are made aware of how to use new features to full effect, the organization is building momentum, accelerating their digital transformation and setting even higher goals for the near future.
“We’ve moved through various small phases to this point,” Watson said. “Looking at the next year, we’ve got five projects that are ERP system-based.”
Working with Customer Service: Aptean’s Team Makes All the Difference
With Wiley Companies having been an Aptean customer for some years prior to the SaaS migration, the business’s staff was already familiar with the provider’s superior service and support. That gave the internal leadership group greater confidence in making the move to the cloud, as they knew they would be collaborating with a company they could rely upon.
“Aptean’s been doing ERPs for 20 years, and they know what they’re doing. When you’re working with them, you’re working with their consultants and their people working on the system,” Watson said. “They have the right people in the right places, just a great support staff.”
Aptean’s personable, collaborative approach to implementation and service has been a significant factor in creating what Watson calls a “completely different feel and atmosphere.” He notes that the fact he can rattle off the names of many of the provider’s team members—and has met quite a few in person—indicates a real commitment to customer satisfaction.
“Anyone down the line, anyone I’ve dealt with, has been great,” Watson said. “Having the ability to talk to the people who not only work on our system but helped design it, that’s huge. We can meet with those people, discuss what our business processes are going to do and what we want to do in the future.”
Speaking of the future, Watson also recognizes that Aptean’s ongoing success will increase the chances of better outcomes for Wiley Companies, and vice versa. Both parties are invested in and dedicated to improvement and growth going forward, so the connection feels natural and the organization can get the most out of the solution and service behind it.
“Our Aptean solution helps drive our business forward. The more that we come up with, the more that we can use Aptean and talk it out to move forward and come up with more solutions,” Watson said. “Aptean’s going to move forward, and our business is moving along with them, so the growth trajectory stays the same. That doesn’t happen with other providers.”
And that mutual push for progress comes on top of the industry-specific ERP features that help Wiley Companies with the unique challenges that come with a very particular niche.