ERP lean management system for manufacturing company

Excel spreadsheets rule in business, but could this be limiting your company’s growth?

To this day, the most popular IT tool used to support company management is an Excel spreadsheet. It would be a challenge to find someone who has never used spreadsheet tables to store customer data, purchase or sales orders, list of products, transactions, employee contact details and so forth. It is also highly probable that there is no company in the world whose business or data analysis were not based on Excel at a particular stage of its development.

And quite rightly so. There are at least a few reasons why using an Excel spreadsheet is the right solution for a company in the initial stage of development. First of all, it is a simple tool that most of us can handle. Secondly, it's cheap. Thirdly, it meets most of the requirements set for it.  

What is the reason behind focusing on such simple solutions? The answer is banal - money and time. At the initial stage of company development, the owners need to focus on investments into the core business activity and look for savings in other areas, including IT. It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

There is, however, one serious issue with using an Excel spreadsheet as a key system supporting company management. This solution only works for a limited time until a company increases the complexity of processes or employment. After the organisation reaches a specific scale of development, the spreadsheet becomes a burden rather than a support.

There are several reasons for this:

At some point, it turns out that the spreadsheet effectively limits the development opportunities of a company. It causes delays in providing reports, data errors and can even result in deterioration of customer service — due to an inability to fulfil orders and a significant decrease in competitiveness. 

Can you imagine that by mistake or human error, a few products hidden somewhere at the back of a factory may lead to over 30k of losses in a month? You have to admit, that is not a loss that anyone can afford. A basic question that manufacturers should pose is whether the investment in an IT system that is more efficient, safe and adjusted to the individual needs of the producer is a cost or rather a benefit.

Risk and limits awareness is not only a sign of professionalism but the starting point for good change.

One of our clients, Four04 Packaging, has come to exactly such a conclusion. The company is one of the leading packaging producers on the British market. It offers several thousand assortment items, serves hundreds of customers, and carries out thousands of orders annually. Every day, the company used an advanced set of spreadsheets linked with macros. However, three years ago, management noted that in several areas of activity, efficiency could be much better.

These were:

We were in desperate need of an update to our order processing system and more importantly a stock management system, which we did not have at all.

The analysis showed that the way production-related data was stored and managed was the real source of the problem.

Let's be honest. Defined milestones and lack of an appropriate IT system that can support their realisation, is a risky combination.

Lack of an IT system, which can strongly support the realisation of the business goals set, became a real issue for managers. What's more, decision-makers realized that without more efficient IT tools, it would not be possible to implement clearly defined development plans, i.e.: 

Initially, Four04 Packaging was looking for a box solution. However, it soon became clear that such a choice would mean adapting the whole organization and its developed processes to the box software.

The realisation of such a scenario proved to be impossible, taking up both time and money. And, let's be honest, not every software company, offering box-solutions, allows for advanced changes to be made to their products. It was in this moment that Four04 Packaging decided instead to cooperate with a bespoke solution provider.

We initially began the project with another company, but we very quickly concluded that they were not up to the job. It transpired that the business was a one-man band—a project manager with very little experience who contracted external programmers. It was this company, which introduced us to HeadChannel.

It was at this stage that we began our cooperation with Four04 Packaging. We should empathise here that the management board was fully aware of the challenges and risks connected with the whole process of developing a bespoke solution. The biggest concerns referred to the duration of the project, its final costs and the lack of knowledge and specialists on the Four04 Packaging side.

Transparency and efficient two-way communication do not guarantee full success. It requires full cooperation on both sides.

The commitment of both parties at the beginning of cooperation turned out to be crucial for the successful development and further implementation of the system.

It included the following elements:

Armed with this knowledge, we prepared an implementation plan, adopting the following assumptions:

A solution that takes into account not only business goals, but also market opportunities and threats.

In a nutshell - we proposed a simplified, dedicated ERP system with a modular structure and implementation planned for several years, which was synchronized with the implementation of the company's business development activities.

Individual modules corresponded to those areas that are most important for the company's operational processes:

Much more than just development.

We translated the needs and goals of Four04 Packaging into reliable software where utility, ease of use and efficiency are key factors and where state-of-the-art technical solutions minimize both future operational costs and risks. By implementing the best UX and CX practices, top technologies and project management methodologies, we give our clients a competitive advantage in business.

The best code is worth only as much as the benefits it brings to your client.

What has been achieved in these 3 years of cooperation?

  1. Implementation of the stock control system.
  2. Implementation of the manufacturing brokerage processes support
  3. Implementation of the production management and planning system, including the incorporation of the new production plant into the organizational structure.
  4. Price Matrices 
  5. Products management
  6. Customer Management System
  7.  Order Processing System
  8. Production Planning System
  9. Purchase and Sales Invoices management
  10. C-level financial reporting
  11. Power BI data analysis

What effects has the client achieved?

  1. Automation of many processes related to inventory and product turnover,
  2. Significant reduction of storage costs due to elimination of losses, increase of rotation and reduction of necessary inventory,
  3. Seamless integration of the new production plant with the company structure,
  4. Optimising and implementing new, more efficient processes adjusted to market standards
  5. Increasing visibility of what is in stock and the current stock level
  6. Tracking selected changes per user
  7. Profiling system per permission
  8. Product specification templates

The adopted process of cooperation strongly involved the client into the project works. This resulted in a better mutual understanding, as well as faster development of software and its later implementation.  

In the first year after the launch, the company's foreign profit increased by about 30%. After three years, profit growth doubled.

The system HeadChannel has created for us has enabled us to keep control of our rapidly expanding business. At the time we started the project, we were turning over around £10 million-pound, now we are over £20 million and the system has without a doubt, enabled us to manage this growth.

We translated the needs and goals of Four04 Packaging into reliable software, where utility, ease of use and efficiency were key factors and where state-of-the-art technical solutions minimized both future operational costs and risks. By implementing the best UX and CX practices, top technologies and project management methodologies, we allowed our client to keep a competitive advantage in business.

A word from the client.

“As a direct result of HeadChannel’s contributions, the company has managed to cope with rapid and substantial growth. The team is very reactive, knowledgeable, intelligent, and polite. Their ability to read between the lines and proactively offer solutions sets them apart from other service providers.”

Operations Director at Four04 Packaging - read full review at

Project facts

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