Bernard is a French trading and distribution company founded in the 1970s in Bondues in northern France. The company operates on the French and Belgium markets in two subsidiaries – Bernard France SAS and Bernard Belgium SRL. The company’s offer includes cleaning and hygiene products as well as safety and protective equipment, ensuring the broadest product range on both markets. The assortment covers almost 20,000 products.
Bernard operates in the “business-to-business” sector, delivering its products to businesses and organizations of almost all sizes – small, medium and big companies, public institutions, foundations and one-person businesses. The company has 140 employees in their French and Belgian operating divisions and serves approximately 50,000 active buyers. Since November 2019 Bernard has been part of the Raja Group, the largest distributor of packaging, supplies and equipment for businesses in Europe.
This brand operated under the Staples Europe group name until November 2019. With the change of ownership to the Raja Group a decision was made to change the existing management system. It was decided to migrate from the previously used SAP software to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central which is also currently used in other Raja Group entities. One of the main challenges was the project timeframe, as due to company’s own business commitments, it was expected that the implementation would be finalized in less than 12 months. At the same time, the project involved the migration of massive data amount between the systems.
In Bernard, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central was implemented in the areas of Sales, Purchase, Warehouse Management, Finance and Accounting. One of the distinctive features of the project was that almost 130 extensions were implemented and that it was carried out with the use of programming language – AL. Copyrighted applications developed by IT.integro – Advanced Intercompany, Master Data Management System and Electronic Banking were also implemented.
As part of the project, both subsidiaries – Bernard France SAS and Bernard Belgium SRL were supported. Dynamics 365 Business Central was implemented for 133 users in total. The system change required the migration of large volumes of data. In the end, 800,00 contacts, 350,000 customers and 40,000 item cards were transferred to the system. As the migration requirements were high, the customer wanted the new software to be based on the same functionalities as the SAP system that was used in the previous years, which was successfully achieved.
The implementation was based to a large extent on customization. In order to best adjust the standard functionality to business processes of the organization, we implemented more than 130 extensions – both the minor ones and complex add-on modules supporting work automation. Because of the commercial profile of the company, these modules focused primarily on sales-related activities. Some of the key extensions included:
Sales Order Controls
Email Sending Management
Backorders & Reservations Management
Sales & Purchase Terms Calculation Management
Due to the scale of personalization used, the implementation in the French division was, so far, the largest project delivered in the AL technology, which required the use of a considerable number of customized extensions. To support workflows between Dynamics 365 Business Central and other systems already in use, we introduced more than 10 interfaces adapting the ERP software to work with solutions of other providers as well as the warehouse, the online shop, vendors and partners.
For Bernard we also implemented 3 certified business applications developed by IT.integro.
Advanced Intercompany facilitates real-time synchronization and automation of sales and purchase document sending. The synchronization of documents begin with the release of a new order, which is then automatically sent to the partner company. Then, the compliance of delivery dates, quantities and prices is verified. Upon approval, a target document is created and the order acceptance confirmation is sent back to the ordering party. The extension allows for ongoing monitoring of statuses of each inter-branch transaction along with the settlement and supports the automatic
invoice posting. In this project, the Advanced Intercompany module was extensively developed to adjust the functionality to the customer’s requirements. It coordinates the flow of sales orders, which are entered in the Belgian subsidiary and sent within the module to the French division – the only one with a physical warehouse.
Master Data Management System is used to synchronize, integrate and manage data exchanged between Bernard Belgium SRL and Bernard France SAS.
Electronic Banking supports the exchange of data between Dynamics 365 Business Central and customer’s bank accounts.
Within the project all phases included in the Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step methodology, organizing project progress, were completed. As all stages were to be completed within a short time period, they weren’t performed in accordance with a “classic” chronology. By implementing various project phases simultaneously, it was possible to save time and finalize the investment in due time, indicated by the customer.
During one of the initial stages, a 3-month analysis, we started designing and developing the solutions. This enabled the customer to learn the functionality more quickly and self-test it and allows for an ongoing assessment, based on which necessary modifications were developed. Several data migration phases (test migration) were conducted. Each of them revealed possible shortcomings that were gradually eliminated. The testing phases were completed with high workloads and by the system go-live date – November 1, 2020 – the migration of data to Dynamics 365 Business Central was complete, with no need for further imports.
The project also included 2 stages of acceptance tests, which allowed for the introduction of potential final corrections.
“IT.integro appeared to be very skilled, available, engaged in the project, and also very agile. We needed to do the project in a short time and we worked very close as a team, so it tells a lot. (…) We know that we still have some improvements to do but we met our target.”
Benoit Braeckeveldt, General Manager in Bernard
According to our customer, for companies with this number of users Dynamics 365 Business Central is a better match than the previously used software. With the new solutions it was possible to enhance the flexibility of process management in all departments. One of the benefits of implementing the new solutions was enhanced system ergonomics and less time spent on staff training. Customer service and productivity improvements were noted as a result of more efficient data flow – customer service teams no longer have to switch between multiple dashboards to access consolidated and up-to-date information in one location. The time spent on entering orders was also shortened.