The UK’s largest national catering butcher, Fairfax Meadow, has increased the consistency of end product quality and is removing inefficient manual processes from its supply chain, thanks to Columbus RapidValue, a Business Process Modelling (BPM) tool built within Microsoft Dynamics AX.
The tool has enabled Fairfax Meadow to map its existing business processes and will assist with streamlining them to be more efficient, which will result in a smoother and more effective upgrade to AX2012. There is a strong desire within the company to minimise costly adaptations and RapidValue, by utilising their business models, best practices and processes, is helping Fairfax Meadow to keep the solution standardised with fewer modifications.
For 40 years, Derby-based Fairfax Meadow has blended advanced manufacturing techniques with traditional butcher’s skills, delivering high quality meats at competitive prices to many prestigious blue chip names from the hotel, pub, restaurant and travel sectors. Offering the most flexible product ranges as well as making order processing and delivery as efficient and effective as possible is paramount. RapidValue is being used to review existing business processes to identify methods to streamline these. Short-term efficiency gains are being identified as well as manual and duplicate processes that can be expelled.
The company used MS Visio to manually map out their business processes when it was preparing for initial AX implementation but Tony Carlisle, who is heading up the project for Fairfax Meadow, feels that RapidValue is a far more efficient and joined up solution.
“At present there are spreadsheets in use for planning and reporting, but we want to have everything going through the ERP system. This is why we’re evaluating our processes in preparation for our upgrade to AX2012. To increase efficiency we need to change the way we work. RapidValue helps us understand how we can become more efficient and what we need to do to improve our processes for when we upgrade.
“By comparing existing business processes to the standard functionality in AX, we were able to identify a number of manual processes and duplications of effort. As it transpires, at some point in the process, parts were duplicated onto a manual paper process which then needed to be rekeyed into AX later on, taking up more of our time.”
As well as reducing manual processes, simple process changes for the operators in the factory and investment in equipment already allowed Fairfax Meadow to increase the consistency in quality of its end product. Visibility of data will increase across the organisation and reporting based on real-time information, keeping track of progress towards production targets, leading to more informed decision making. The improved business processes developed with the aid of RapidValue will also give the company quicker insight into stock levels and yield, with the company benefiting from same-day access.
The tool enables Fairfax Meadow to view all of its processes, requirements documents, risk assessment and supply chain information all under one single roof, centralised within AX. Previously, these documents were all saved in separate locations on the company server, which led to a more disjointed and time consuming approach to projects. By having everything in one place, Fairfax Meadow benefits from greater visibility of data in its ERP solution which can easily be shared with multiple departments within the organisation; from operators through to the heads of departments, the board and stakeholders.
Tony says: “RapidValue can add value to a business at any time to simplify processes, cut out duplications, and reduce manual processes and double entry without having to involve an immediate upgrade. The work you do is contained in the solution, even if you need to take a break from a project because other company priorities take over. Improved processes identified with RapidValue will result in reduced modifications, preventing additional support, upgrade and training costs in the future.”
RapidValue also aids change management by centralising all the relevant documents in one AX environment, allowing operators and managers to visualise existing business processes and understand where inefficiencies and weaknesses lie. It then becomes much easier to realise where process changes are necessary and how they affect the bigger picture. The natural aversion to change may not be completely eradicated but because senior management and employees alike are involved, it aids their understanding and their ability to absorb necessary changes.
“The testing process is helped by RapidValue throughout the journey because there is a continuous process, so when you get to the User Acceptance Training everything should run smoothly and you don’t come up against any surprises,” says Tony.
Accurate and up-to-date training documents can be created within the AX system, which act as an invaluable reference for existing staff and especially new starters. Tony explains the important role that the tool plays in the training process:
“Training can be based on the specific processes of the role and how it fits in with the more holistic view of the company, for example, how one job or department affects another, as well as ERP and more technical training.” says Tony.
“Importantly your training manuals are available online and your documentation gets added to ‘help’ functionality within AX, so at any time you’re a push of a key away from guidance.”
The food industry in which Fairfax Meadow operates, heavily focuses on compliance and the need for this has intensified in recent years. The training and process flow documents from RapidValue acts as a trusted paper trail, underpinning compliance. Equally important, in an industry that has experienced increasingly tightened margins, RapidValue will play an increasingly critical role in improving overall efficiency within the organisation.
The way that Fairfax Meadow operates is ultimately set to change for the better thanks to RapidValue. Fairfax Meadow expects implementation of changes to be supported by RapidValue, with time and money savings attached. Once the go-live is reached the heads of departments will become the custodians of their own documents, as senior team managers will then have access to make changes to their processes through RapidValue.
“The key to doing your own Business Process Mapping, versus outsourcing, is the fact that you keep the knowledge in-house and it actually motivates people to implement the changes,” says Tony.
“This is the start of a journey for Fairfax, it isn’t just about implementing a new solution quickly and smoothly, it’s always about being as efficient as we can be, and RapidValue, which brings benefits across the lifecycle of the AX solution, is the tool that will help us achieve that. The AX solution is key to facilitating improved efficiency and RapidValue gives us the platform to drive it from.”