What happens when a truly vintage brand enters the bold new phase of digital transformation? It may happen more than you think.
A lot of ERP upgrade narratives focus on flashy verticals such as industrial and finance, or on brands not much older than readers like yourselves. This means we forget the daily challenges that face any kind of SME – even family businesses that have grown to expand their corporate workforce.
The backbone of the SAP customer base is very much made up of companies that provide the essential building blocks behind our homes, transportation, goods and more. But when they reach a pain point in stacking those blocks for customers, it’s arguably high time for an augmentation of their SAP systems and ERP backbone.
“We’ve been implementing SAP for 15 years,” jokes John Campbell, senior manager of customer technology strategy at flooring manufacturer Mannington Mills.
For Campbell, this is an illustration of how the company has grown through acquisition, the ongoing SAP ‘go-lives’ a testament to Mannington’s ability to overcome difficult integration challenges as part of a bigger growth strategy.
Mannington Mills is a fifth generation, privately-owned family business, with headquarters in Salem, New Jersey. It was founded in 1915 by Campbell’s great, great grandfather, after whom he was named. Unsurprisingly perhaps, for a manufacturer steeped in history, it has had to overcome some legacy technology challenges over the years, the most recent of which was overcoming data integration between its two key information systems – SAP and Salesforce.
Mannington was a Salesforce early adopter, initially using the CRM tool to manage commercial sales and pipeline. Data from Salesforce was also used for demand planning forecasting but as Campbell says, there has been “an air gap,” making it time-consuming to update and manage data between SAP and Salesforce.
Mannington used a standard Extract, Transfer and Load (ETL) tool for some time, but as Campbell explains, it led to what he refers to as “the swivel chair,” where someone had to swivel between terminals to action data transfer requests.
“There was a lot of manual work that went into these interactions between the CRM and the ERP,” says Campbell, adding that around 50 percent of calls were from sales reps requesting the latest pricing or stock availability within the Salesforce application.
“As we’ve scaled our SAP system, we’ve acquired a ton of functionality,” says Campbell. “We manage our pricing, order management, and availability to promise (ATP) through SAP. The tables are very complex. It’s not a question of rolling up the data and just tossing it over the fence to Salesforce. It gets more complicated than that because the data needs to be real-time, to be of use to the rep and the customer.”
Plugging the data gap with enosix
As Campbell reminds us, reps aren’t only trying to sell the product and win the contract, but also serving the customer through order support, contract walk-throughs and more. In other words, a sale doesn’t finish when it’s won with a customer.
The subsequent pressure on its sales reps to not just sell products and win contracts but also support customers through the sales process, was instrumental in Campbell looking at how to try and improve data integration between the two applications. It was, he admits, becoming a bigger and bigger problem, as more business units within Mannington scaled-up and leveraged Salesforce.
The gap was growing and the amount of swivel chairing had only increased with that.
Therefore, we started exploring an integration, so our people could readily access information in SAP. But we also had the idea that we could extend this to our customers as well, providing real-time pricing and stock information, for example.”
As Campbell says, any business wants its sales team to be successful and optimized in leveraging the tools available to them, to better meet customer needs. But he admits that SAP integrations are difficult at the best of times and, initially, his team looked at how to do remote function call (RFC) integrations internally before soon realizing the business needed help.
The scale and complexity of the challenge led Campbell to search for a third-party solution. After looking at several iPaaS options, he chose enosix, a dedicated expert in SAP and Salesforce data integrations.
Mannington chose eEnosix as they are the only other partner who not only provides a true real-time, prebuilt, SAP integration technology solution for integration, but more critically, because they hold a leading level of expertise in implementing integrated solutions between SAP and Salesforce. The value of their solution is not just simply the tools they provide out of the box, but the greater ability to quickly perform custom integrations not thought possible between SAP and Salesforce.
“We saw enosix’s capabilities as not only an immediate opportunity to streamline development internally but also to leverage its expertise in how best to integrate SAP with our CRM,” says Campbell.
Initially, this was driven internally with Campbell looking to enable both the sales team and the customer service unit. This meant deploying out-of-the-box functionality, such as enosix Surface, a data virtualization SAP and Salesforce integration tool, to deliver SAP data into Mannington’s Salesforce frontend application.
The ability to access SAP data in real time has, says Campbell, been transformational, especially with ATP. Sales reps can now see product availability almost immediately, which gives them the information they need at their fingertips, so they can answer customer queries and provide current product details on demand.
Enabling real-time data
In addition, real-time pricing has been a game changer, especially as the business adjusts pricing on a constant basis, particularly within its residential operation. Campbell accepts that this has been no easy feat given the complexity of the data architecture associated with pricing tables within SAP.
“This is data that just doesn’t want to move out of SAP,” says Campbell, “so it required enosix’s data virtualization capabilities to make it possible, quickly and simply. This has given us huge efficiency gains, not just in time but also increasing the value and adoption of our platform by sales reps and customers.”
He adds that sales reps and the customer service team are seeing a huge improvement in terms of accessing product information, price sheets and real-time order status. Price sheets, in particular, are a huge achievement in that users can access them directly through Salesforce, knowing that all the information is up-to-date. For Campbell, this has made people more competitive and more successful. This, he adds, is a real illustration of the power and capability of enosix in solving a complex integration challenge.
“There are a lot of companies out there that say they can integrate with SAP and yeah, sure, the connectors are there. But there is more to connectors than meets the eye. It’s the expertise to know how these two systems need to connect that makes a big difference. That means you don’t have to leverage multiple partners to achieve your goals,” says Campbell, referring to enosix and how it has helped Mannington solve its complex integration challenges.
You don’t just need it just to work, you need it to work fast.
Mannington has seen returns from its investment in enosix already, through its ability to direct internal resources to improving customer experiences online. Campbell talks about the new customer portal, giving customers direct access to live product and pricing information, something which would not have been possible without enosix’s integration work.
“It’s about enabling the customer,” as he explains. “Every time a customer is enabled themselves to get the information, it means they’re not going to a sales rep. That gives freedom and more time for the sales rep, and more time for a customer service agent to service that customer, which has a powerful impact.”
One of our core values at Mannington is to control our own destiny.
Campbell adds that the customer portal is a key illustration of how far the business has come in terms of agility and ability to deliver great user experiences. “Enosix and Salesforce have enabled us to do that. Success in our book is being able to do changes internally and we now have the foundations on which we can build, recognize new opportunities – especially around automation – and grow the business.”
With the upcoming Salesforce Dreamforce 2023 poised to lean in heavily on all things AI, automation is a keyword for many businesses these days, Mannington Mills included. Campbell tells SAPinsider about discussing business priorities with Salesforce and how the corporate IT point of view sees real importance in automation.
“I’ve seen the power of these integrations as enabling us from an RPA perspective. When a system triggers something, it triggers packets in SAP. There’s a return there on time and resources.”
On the SAP side, Campbell is looking towards a S/4HANA upgrade. He says there is a clean upgrade path now, given the work enosix has done with the data.
“That’s a part of our upgrade strategy. I don’t want to build something only to rebuild it two or three years from now,” he laughs. “That’s not only time consuming, it’s expensive.”
This leads to another reason behind Campbell’s choice of enosix as a partner: “It started as an internal project with enosix, while integrating a lot of these RFCs for B2B e-commerce. With the power we could leverage as part of our iPaaS strategy with enosix, we could leverage the same exact integrations to build and extend them externally to our customers.”
This meant there was no need to build out on separate technologies or find different integration partners for implementations. From an investment perspective, this drove both time and project savings for Mannington.
By leveraging Enosix as an iPaaS partner, Mannington has been able to save hundreds of thousands in implementation costs, while reducing the need to add even more personnel to operations budgets as the business with a now integrated Salesforce and SAP system. Utilization of Mannington’s customer portal has jumped 250%, and number of ordering users have doubled since migrating the platform to SFDC B2B ecommerce.
Also, Campbell admits there will still be challenges ahead as the Mannington business expands with more acquisitions – with each new brand under its wing comes a whole new set of associated business processes, including when it comes to ordering, specifying and pricing. But the enosix “fix” makes that future look a whole lot less daunting.
“It’s not easy. But there is a flexibility once they are incorporated into the ERP, to be able to determine strategy. The integrations are there, it’s just a matter of expanding the RFCs and having a catalog strategy that can support those changes.”
Campbell mentions recently bringing in a carpet company onto the new SAP system and B2B ecommerce instance. As a part of that Mannington expanded its RFCs to incorporate the subsidiary’s order logic and catalog – in other words, another brand was welcomed into the family fold with relative ease.
As such, looking to the future, Campbell knows with some certainty that Mannington Mills can now retire the swivel chair.