ERP Upgrade Improves Visibility, Efficiency and Productivity
Tiger Optics was founded in 2001. The company manufactures high-performance laser-based gas analyzers for use in science and industry. As the exclusive worldwide licensee for a patented technology called Continuous Wave Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (CW CRDS), Tiger Optics leverages cutting-edge scientific expertise and engineering knowledge to produce gas analyzers that can complete highly accurate and reliable measurements in a small fraction of the time conventional approaches required.
Tiger Optics designs, develops, and manufactures its full line of analytical equipment in a single state-of-the-art facility located in Horsham, Pennsylvania. The company is certified to the ISO 9001 standard, demonstrating its commitment to process consistency and continuous quality improvement. It serves a broad variety of worldwide customers including gas and chemical producers, semiconductor fabricators, and research institutes.
The recipient of numerous awards for technological innovation, Tiger Optics has also been recognized as one of the fastest-growing private manufacturing firms in the United States.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of enthusiasm for the adoption of laser-based technologies to analyze gasses. As a result, Tiger Optics has been experiencing extremely rapid growth. The company needed to upgrade from its aging enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to a new solution that would support this ongoing growth, offer real-time visibility into processes and capacity, and integrate with other systems including a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
There are numerous ERP solutions on the market today, and choosing the one that best matches a company’s unique requirements is vital for optimal efficiency and productivity as well as employee satisfaction. TigerOptics’ leadership sought strategic guidance from DVIRC to help the company navigate the complex software selection and request for proposal (RFP) process. “When we first started looking at ERP systems, we found there were so many choices that we didn’t even know where to begin,” says Erika Coyne, President of Tiger Optics. “DVIRC had a lot of experience with the process, so it seemed like a natural fit.”
Tiger Optics surveyed internal team members to better understand their needs and the current system’s limitations. Armed with the results of that research, DVIRC conducted additional employee interviews and then assembled proposals from four prospective vendors on the basis of pricing, capabilities, and how well their tools could support Tiger Optics’ future needs.
After viewing initial product demonstrations, Tiger Optics was able to narrow the field of prospective vendors down to two. These vendors then prepared day-long presentations employing sample data that Tiger Optics provided them. The next steps included asking more questions, conducting due diligence, and gathering referrals. Ultimately the company chose the Epicor ERP solution.
Midway through the lengthy software selection process, Tiger Optics was acquired by an outside investment firm. The company’s new ownership wanted to be able to consolidate the financials of all of its holdings, so an additional layer of complexity was introduced into the ERP project: the software would need to be adopted by Tiger Optics’ new investment portfolio “siblings,” and their requirements, which included handling pricing data in multiple currencies, would also have to be met.
“Implementing a new ERP system is an extremely challenging project, and we knew from the outset that it wasn’t going to be easy,” says Coyne. A crucial determining factor in Tiger Optics’ choice of vendor was the quality of implementation support that would be available. The Epicor implementation was to be performed by CompuData, a Philadelphia-based value-added reseller (VAR) recommended by DVIRC, and Tiger Optics’ leaders were impressed by the teams’ expertise and professionalism.
Tiger Optics’ timeline for transitioning to the new system was aggressive. It planned to complete the entire project, from initial kickoff to vendor selection, system design and configuration, all the way through go-live and troubleshooting, within a six-month time frame. Many of the company’s peers take one year or more to complete similar projects. “These was a lot to be done, and we worked long hours to keep the project on schedule,” says Coyne. “We have a brilliant team here, and people got really excited about this project. They jumped right in, learning to write their own custom Business Access Queries (BAQs) and things like that. It really helped to expedite the process,” she adds.
Upgrading to a new ERP system usually causes major upheaval in small to midsized manufacturing firms. Tiger Optics was able to accomplish a very smooth transition. “Our customers and vendors did not notice any downtime or gaps in our operations,” says Coyne. “That was one of the most remarkable things.”
“It surprised me how quickly we could go from not knowing the system at all to being able to really understand it and see it helping us transform our business,” says Coyne.
DVIRC provided strong support during the vendor selection process, but they also offered additional advising and consulting services throughout the duration of the project. “They were extremely accessible. They stayed involved, and were able to offer their options and feedback throughout the implementation. They didn’t just exit once we’d selected the software,” explains Coyne. “That was really great,” she adds.
The new ERP system has only been in production for a couple of months, but Tiger Optics has already seen its benefits. Leadership has much improved visibility into all aspects of the company’s operations and financials. In addition, the ERP system is fully integrated with Salesforce, Tiger Optics’ CRM tool. This consolidates sales, production, financial, and supply chain management information within a single, centralized database. With real-time data at their fingertips, Tiger Optics’ leaders are able to make faster, better-informed decisions.
In January of 2020, Tiger Optics relocated to a new, larger production facility and headquarters building. After this move, and with the new ERP system in place, the company has increased its total production capacity by approximately 50 percent—without adding a single new team member.
The entire project was completed on schedule and within budget.