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ATS Group lays strong foundation for further growth, with Cegeka’s support

Chris Corijn, Directeur Operations ATS

Industry: Industrial Goods & Services 


ATS Group is a major player in the field of technology with a growing network across Belgium.  When it became clear that their existing ERP system could no longer support their strong growth, Cegeka catapulted the group into a new era. Thanks to Microsoft Dynamics AX, everyone can work more efficiently, cooperation with suppliers has improved and e-commerce has been introduced. In 2016 they implemented SharePoint to optimize information exchange between departments, and Cegeka again played an important role during the implementation process.

With 13 companies spread across Belgium and a team of more than 600 technicians and engineers, ATS is quite some technology group. However, their IT systems struggled to keep up with their growth. ‘Our IT system was basically an accounting suite that we had expanded and upgraded over the years’, explains Chris Corijn, Operations Manager. ‘It did a great job for many years, but as our growth continued we were confronted with an increasing number of issues.’ The CEO was aware of the problems and gave the go-ahead to search for an alternative solution that would be sufficiently reliable, stable and scalable to support ATS Group for years to come. 

Involve key users in the project

The Microsoft Dynamics AX demo immediately won them over. ‘The decision to choose Microsoft was a no-brainer’, Chris continues. ‘We also wanted to team up with a local partner, so Cegeka was the perfect match.’ First of all, Cegeka performed a fit-gap analysis, which involved as many ATS employees as possible. Chris: ‘We wanted to have all key users on board from day one and get everyone on the same page. So we gathered the requirements and needs of all departments and identified and mapped all the processes and issues. This way, we also used the implementation to evaluate our processes and reorganized them as necessary.’ The project was managed by different working groups and a steering group, which ensured a smooth implementation from start to finish.

Phased implementation

‘This interaction and cooperation was crucial, as was the involvement of management. The support of those who know the company well and define the vision for its future is crucial’, Chris continues. He also mentions the step-by-step implementation as an important success factor: ‘Cegeka developed the functionality, and our key users tested it and provided feedback. The platform was fine-tuned based on their feedback. They had the power to make important decisions, which was a great way to speed up the project.’ Despite the excellent cooperation, ATS Group cancelled the first go-live at the very last moment. A new release of Dynamics was available and the IT team decided it would be better to update the system first. It turned out to be a smart decision. Everyone took their time for the second round and prepared thoroughly for the go-live, which then proved to be a great success.

More time and efficiency

ATS Group has been working with Microsoft Dynamics AX since 2014. According to Chris, it was a major transition that required some adjustments, but it had clear benefits: ‘We had evaluated every process and adapted them as necessary to lay a new foundation for our growth. Of course, not everyone was pleased with these changes from the get-go. Certain employees had to change their way of working, or had their job content changed drastically. So it took some time for everyone to open up to the benefits. Today everyone is convinced this was the right way to go. From invoicing and project management to warehouse management, most processes were automated to a large extent, which saves us a lot of time. In addition, our systems are linked to our suppliers’, which increases efficiency. And the new suite also gave us the chance to start a webshop.’

Central information platform

ATS Group was so pleased with Cegeka that they hired their consultants again in 2016 to integrate an internal communication platform. ‘A group of 13 companies is not always easy to manage’, Chris says jokingly. ‘Our customer and project information, for example, was spread out across the country, on different computers and documents. We wanted to bring all of this information together in a central platform that is always up to date and accessible.’ Cegeka had experience with the development of a “connected organization”. They translated the vision of Chris and his team into a concept based on SharePoint 2016. Of course, smooth integration with the existing Dynamics AX platform was an important advantage.

Committed employees, satisfied customers

The platform was very well received by its key users. Chris explains how it works: ‘When employees arrive at the office and log in to the portal, they immediately get an overview of general news and tasks, appointments, pending quotes or projects. Through the portal, they also have access to customer and project information, legal documents, contracts, training and so much more. Thanks to the intuitive dashboard and smooth navigation system, they can find any information they need with just a click of a button.’

So again, the platform saves us time. But it also boosted the motivation of our employees, because people feel more involved if they have access to company information. Finally, our customers were also happy with the changes. We were able to deliver a smoother service, because all of our employees had access to up-to-date and consistent information.’ ATS Group is currently also rolling out Microsoft Dynamics CRM to further improve their services. This way the group continues to build a strong foundation for further growth.

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"We’re working more efficiently now thanks to MS Dynamics AX and our new communication platform. Employee motivation and service have also improved."


Challenges

  • ERP system too limited to support growth
  • Encourage cooperation between employees

Lessons learned

  • Fully involve the management in the project
  • Ensure that key users can make decisions

Solution

> ERP
> SharePoint 2016