by Monica Mehta, August 2015
Chances are, the most popular product manufactured by Laser Technology Inc. (LTI) has made you stop—or at least slow down—in your tracks. It’s the laser speed gun, and police officers worldwide use it to make the roadways safer. What you may not know is that LTI engineered the first commercial speed enforcement laser in history, effectively creating a market for handheld speed measurement that previously didn’t exist.
Such inventiveness is at the heart of LTI’s mission. At the same time, LTI’s products are built to order by a small staff and delivered with stringent deadlines, so its processes need to be extremely efficient. The backbone upon which the company has built that innovation and efficiency is Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.
With a stable, reliable ERP system serving as the business backbone, the operations team needed better visibility into the sales pipeline to enable a smoother, faster, and more efficient quote-to-cash process. LTI chose Oracle Sales Cloud, which can integrate with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne to facilitate the flow of information between sales and the rest of the business. As Laser Tech President Eric Miller sees it, combining cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) with an ERP core will help the company better meet its business goals.
“We have to be as efficient and as inventive as possible,” says Miller. “An integrated ERP and CRM solution will streamline our complex business processes and take care of some very detailed operations, so that we can focus on the innovation.”
When LTI released its laser speed gun in 1990, it was the first of its kind; previous speed measurement devices were radar-based. Today, LTI remains the world leader in laser speed measurement, and with tens of thousands of units in operation, its products have court precedent across the globe. In addition to the speed gun, LTI previously released a laser handheld surveying product that maps and locates objects in 3-D space—also the first solution of its kind—and a consumer laser range finder, used in Bushnell Optics’ outdoor products for hunters and golfers. It also adopted its laser speed gun to do very low-speed, high-precision measurements for NASA, which used the unit for docking space shuttles and retrieving satellites and other objects from space.
Our ERP system provides seamless integration between departments. It’s a tool that we don’t have to struggle with or think about every day. It’s always there working for us, day in and day out, and it allows us to spend our time on the business at hand.
As a result of its groundbreaking inventions, LTI grew from 30 employees to 100 from 1992 to 1998, with a revenue growth of 300 percent. To manage this extraordinary growth, the company implemented a JD Edwards ERP solution in the mid-1990s. In 2009, the company migrated from JD Edwards World 7.3 to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.12 and is currently on 9.1. Miller says the ERP system has “drastically improved operations,” tying together everything between sales order processing, manufacturing, warehousing inventory, purchasing, accounting, finance, and service.
Because of the high cost and complexity of LTI’s products, most of them are built to order. Since their most popular products—the laser speed guns—are sold to law enforcement agencies, they must meet stringent government-funding time frames. If the law enforcement agencies don’t receive the products and implement them by a certain date, they can lose the funding that was allotted for the products.
This type of time constraint makes forecasting and planning a vital part of LTI’s business. When LTI receives a sales order, Manufacturing needs to conduct material requirements planning (MRP) to ensure that it has all the parts to build the order on schedule. Some products have hundreds of parts that must be either accounted for in the warehouse inventory or purchased. All of this is accomplished with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.
“The importance of MRP is huge. If a product has 500 parts and we only have 499 of them, that can shut down the entire order-to-cash process. With the MRP capability of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, our purchasing department can look at forecasts and stocking quantities and make sure the parts are there so that we can build the products we are promising to the customer within the time allotted. That is one of the most critical capabilities for us,” says Miller.
Financials are, of course, another important part of the ERP system for LTI—being able to track margins and revenue while accounting for every detail on its bill of materials. The company also recently implemented JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Service Management to bring repair and support processes up to speed with the rest of the business.
|Rank of speeding as cause of accidents and death on highways|
|Number of countries that sell LTI products|
|Number of customers per each LTI sales representative|
|Number of lives saved since 1990 by reducing worldwide traffic speeds|
|Number of seconds an LTI laser can measure to calculate distance|
Chris Budden, vice president of operations at LTI, says JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solutions have provided users with a structured and straightforward platform for conducting business. “Our ERP system provides seamless integration between departments,” he says. “It’s a tool that we don’t have to struggle with or think about every day. It’s always there working for us, day in and day out, and it allows us to spend our time on the business at hand.”
Vicki Novosad, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne systems coordinator at LTI, says employees are very positive about the system because of its ease of use. “The JD Edwards environment is very intuitive,” says Novosad. “You can figure it out quickly, even if you’ve never seen it before.”
LTI’s previous CRM system was not tied into the ERP system, and many processes, such as recording opportunities or forecasting sales, were done manually through spreadsheets. Sales teams couldn’t easily access customer information, and conversely, the operations team had no visibility into the sales opportunities that were coming in.
LTI chose Oracle Sales Cloud to integrate with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne. When Oracle Sales Cloud is fully implemented, it will provide a central location for sales representatives to get information about customers on their mobile devices, including their purchase and service histories. Sales team members will also be able to view the warehouse inventory. Roosevelt Rogers, vice president of sales and marketing at LTI, says this information is very valuable for sales representatives to be able to call up while in the field.
“When we know what the inventory is, we can up-sell the customer or add a solution to their current order,” he says. “Without a CRM system that integrates with the ERP, we’re dealing with the cost of lost opportunities due to the lack of information that we have.”
Operations team members will in turn gain visibility into the sales team’s opportunities, gaining earlier insight into potential orders and giving them more time to check materials inventory levels and get started on time-sensitive orders.
Most importantly, tying the CRM solution to the ERP system will help LTI provide a better customer experience. “Our number one priority is to meet the needs of our customers,” says Miller. “The integration of the CRM and the ERP will allow us to track all of our communications with each customer, ultimately giving them the best possible buying experience and quality of products and making sure we’re shipping what they need, when they need it.”
Budden and his team plan to add other cloud solutions that can integrate with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and provide additional capabilities to the business. This includes more visibility on all processes, from sales, distribution, and shipping on down to service. Examples include more barcoding in the warehouse and inventory systems, reporting tools that can provide more insight into the granular details of the business, internet purchasing capabilities for certain products, and software that can help with the automation of engineering change order management.
Miller says having a solid ERP system on which to build these added capabilities is essential for growth in today’s marketplace. “JD Edwards EnterpriseOne has allowed the company to constantly innovate and go to the next level,” says Miller. “It has tied all the pieces of the operation of the business together. We could not have hit our levels of growth if it weren’t for the capabilities that the system provides.”
Monica Mehta is a frequent contributor to Profit.
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