Building Products Manufacturer Picks Lawson M3
January 22, 2008 Alex Woodie
The country’s largest manufacturer of building products, Oldcastle, has chosen to modernize its business systems on Lawson Software‘s M3 suite of ERP applications running on the IBM System i computer platform, the software company announced last week.
As the North American division of the Irish building giant CRH, Oldcastle manufacturers and distributes building materials, such as asphalt, concrete, brick, utility vaults, pipe, glass, and doors across the continent. Oldcastle employs about 50,000 people across six distinct product groups that span 1,700 locations in 50 states and four Canadian provinces.
Before signing a contract last fall to license Lawson’s M3, Oldcastle’s Architectural Products Group (APG)–the division that makes concrete masonry, clay brick, and lawn and garden products–supported its operations using a collection of disparate legacy systems. However, this setup proved more trouble than it was worth.
According to Lawson, employees in the APG group were spending too much time transferring data across its business units, which meant executives and managers didn’t have timely access to critical information they needed to make decisions. Scalability was also a problem, as was the sales functionality, all of which combined to challenge APG’s growth plans.
APG conducted a search for a replacement ERP product, and came up with Lawson’s M3 suite, which was first developed in Java by Intentia (which Lawson acquired a couple of years ago). After a successful pilot, APG committed to rolling out the manufacturing, supply chain, and financial components of M3 to 2,200 users in 230 locations across the United States and Canada.
APG selected M3 for several reasons, according to Lawson. First, the applications are pre-integrated and have been used by companies in the manufacturing and distribution industries before. The suite also scales well, works “out of the box,” is relatively affordable to implement and run, and people find it easy to use. And lastly, it runs on the System i platform.
Several business processes will be refined by the addition of M3 at APG. First, managers will be better able to track sales and production statistics, thereby helping to improve the flow of materials through the business. More closely aligning the procurement and fulfillment sides of the house should also help it more effectively use its resources and inventories. Providing quotes and creating orders will be streamlined and internal and external sales channels will have more tools to better serve their customers, according to Lawson.
When all of this is added up, APG will be counting on the M3 suite to facilitate and adapt to the growth of the business, according to Frank Murtagh, the chief information officer for Oldcastle APG. “The Lawson applications are designed to improve the efficiency and accuracy of our business processes, which will help us make better-informed decisions for our company,” he says.