Dynamics 365 Business Central, Power BI
Based in Kelowna, British Columbia, Northern Lite has manufactured fiberglass truck campers since 1989. Originally a local owner-operated company, Northern Lite was acquired by a private equity firm in 2004 and recently changed to a new equity sponsor in 2022. Over this time, they’ve seen aggressive growth and have doubled their business, especially within the last two years.
Challenges Due to Multiple, Disparate Solutions
Northern Lite was running their day-to-day operations using multiple, disparate solutions. They used Microsoft Great Plains (GP) as their financial system and managed their inventory in Adagio. They also relied on Excel spreadsheets to manage their bills and materials for production. Their sales team also used Excel spreadsheets to track open sales orders. As they faced rapid growth, they started experiencing more challenges due to their siloed business data.
“We didn’t have visibility into a lot of the data and metrics we needed as we were running two separate accounting systems,” says Lorne Rodenhizer, Director of Finance at Northern Lite. “As you grow, those small little errors here and there grow as well. It became a real challenge as we got busier. We really needed to lay a strong foundation.” When they realized they needed a fully integrated ERP solution, they opted for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central as they were already a Microsoft shop and were familiar with the suite of products.
Getting Up and Running with a KwixSmart Implementation
After engaging Kwixand Solutions as their Dynamics 365 Partner, Northern Lite implemented the cloud-based Business Central Premium using the KwixSmart Implementation methodology. A KwixSmart implementation is a 2-phased fixed fee project, which is designed to mitigate the risks of implementation, such as going over budget or over-schedule. Phase I is a fixed-fee project which includes a deep dive discovery, identifying gaps, and designing a solution for your business. This is where clients receive their proposal documentation, the fixed fee, and the timeline for the implementation.
Phase II includes a fixed fee implementation of your selected solution based on the proposal document and training and support after go-live. “We did a full system changeover,” says Lorne. “We didn’t just do the finance piece, or inventory, or manufacturing – we did all of it at once. The project went smoothly overall…In like a month and a half, we went completely cold from one system to another. Everything was done that we needed to have done. We closed our first month end within two weeks of the month, and everything looked great.”
Removing Data Silos with Dynamics 365 Business Central
One of the immediate results of implementing Dynamics 365 Business Central was the unification of Northern Lite’s data under one platform and the elimination of departmental silos. Instead of relying on a mix of software and Excel spreadsheets to reconcile and track items, their Business Central solution is a fully integrated financials and operations system that can be used for financials, inventory, planning and production, sales tracking, and more. It is also integrated with Microsoft Power BI so they can track and map their sales history.
“The ability to have clarity of information is the immediate benefit we’ve seen,” says Lorne. “Specifically looking at our inventory levels…before we could never really tell what we had at any given time. Now it’s all integrated together, so it’s all in one system. We can go in at any given time, see what units are complete, what materials went into them – everything.”
Providing Exceptional Levels of Support
Lorne has high praise for the level of support Northern Lite received from the Kwixand team throughout the implementation process. “When we approached Kwixand, support was one of the items we said was the most crucial piece for us. They were by far, out of everyone else we spoke to, willing to do what we needed.” The Northern Lite team felt supported throughout the project, especially during their first month end after go-live.
“They were available for help whenever we needed it, and 80% of the time, it was an immediate phone call. The other 20% of the time was a phone call or Teams meeting in an hour or two. The ability to be able to reach support and have a problem solved right away was invaluable.” says Lorne, adding that he would recommend Kwixand Solutions wholeheartedly to other organizations. “Anyone can just take your data and move it from one system to another. But the ability to circumvent issues as they arise – that is hugely important.”
I would recommend them wholeheartedly. We hired them for a specific reason, and I would say they very much lived up to that reason. They executed on what they promised - there were no surprises.
- Lorne Rodenhizer
Director of Finance, Northern Lite