Engine builder aims for happy mariners

In the world of marine engine production, the power to serve more than 1000 dealers in near real time determines customer satisfaction levels, and Mercury Marine has tapped a solution to keep its partners and customers happy by increasing the speed and transparency of its supply chain processes.

Melbourne-based Mercury Marine, part of the world's largest marine and outboard motor group Brunswick Corporation in th US, is migrating from a green-screen, ERP environment on JD Edwards' World to JD Edwards' OneWorld.

The marine engine builder favoured JD Edwards over SAP ERP applications for Mercury's ease and speed of use, the company's ICT manager for Australia, Jim Powell, told Computerworld.

Currently implementing JD Edwards' OneWorld supply chain applications, Powell said the software aids more precise planning and scheduling of the company's sales order and fulfilment processes with its 1000-plus Asia-Pacific dealer network.

Powell's goal behind the migration is to eliminate the use of spreadsheets in the company.

Mercury Marine will also implement three new JD Edwards' CRM applications across the company's regional sites. Those products include Advanced Web order configurator which accepts and despatches customer designs and purchase orders online through OneWorld; Customer Self-Service which automates a previously paper-based process for logging service calls and which also generates alerts on overdue warranty requests; and Service and Warranty Management to manage dealers' warranty registrations and service agreement applications online.

The key benefit of the CRM component is the self-service capability it gives dealers, Powell said.

"Dealers will know where our stock is at, and doing this on the Web makes us a smarter business."

The company has so far invested $1.5 million in JD Edwards applications.

The OneWorld migration will be complete around July 2003, and Powell expects the next 18 months to be a period of riding out the "journey of co-existence".

The main feat in the project has been to establish that process of co-existence. "I'm managing mountains of resistance to change," Powell said, in response to which he has "enforced an edict" on employees to get more familiar with OneWorld as a way of discouraging reticence.

Now management of the system is far less the responsibility of IT and more that of business.

"The thing I hate is this problem where IT is thought of as owning a [business] problem," Powell said. "You let the users own their own application, as it's got to be a user-driven system."

"The more they own it, the less they fear it."

Mercury Marine's move to OneWorld has helped lower the total cost of ownership of its ERP applications, and also shaved time and costs from functions like warranty request processing and service call management.

Powell intends to bring the company's dealers online around April 2003 by integrating its DB2 B2B portal with OneWorld with accounts receivable and sales order entry the first modes in that system.

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