RapidG is a leading supplier of high quality cleaning, cooking and safety equipment. Based in the regional city of Griffith NSW, RapidG ships to more than 3,000 sites across New South Wales and Victoria.
For more than 20 years RapidG relied on a relatively basic accounting and business management software program to perform core business functions. The limitations of the system started to become clear when, over the course of three or four years, the company experienced significant growth – expanding from three employees to 15 over this period.
“Our business software served us well for many years but we became acutely aware of its shortcomings during our phase of rapid expansion”, said Brendan Cappello, General Manager of RapidG. “The lack of a general ledger function started to become a problem for us as did its inability to integrate with some third party applications, including those to do with freight and warehousing, that we had acquired along the way. It was in around 2018 that we made the decision to abandon the system and upgrade to a feature-rich ERP solution.”
In their search for a replacement system Brendan and his team did their homework. Over the course of over a year they consulted with various industry peers and thoroughly researched what the leading ERP providers had to offer. Eventually RapidG settled on Jiwa.
“I don’t know how much money this Jiwa-driven operational improvement has saved us but it’s certainly a lot.”
Says Brendan: “What got Jiwa over the line was its depth of functionality. We actually got close to purchasing a competing system until, upon closer inspection, we discovered that while it included all the core functions we required some of those functions simply weren’t sophisticated enough to support our business.
“It was particularly in the areas of accounting and inventory and warehouse management that Jiwa provided the feature-richness we needed. Also of immense value to us was Jiwa’s ability to seamlessly integrate with other systems and applications.”
Jiwa’s in built integration and customisation capabilities are unusually robust partly because of the system’s use of the REST API interface, which makes it easy to connect websites, mobile apps and other technologies to the Jiwa database. In the case of RapidG, this application programming interface enabled the company to perform a smooth integration with its SmartFreight shipping platform and, down the track, will support Jiwa’s integration with RapidG’s online store.
“Our integration with the SmartFreight portal went very well and has produced excellent business benefits to RapidG”, said Brendan. “With the two systems, Jiwa and SmartFreight, linked together we’re able to key a customer order into Jiwa which then automatically gets sent off to a freight provider to undertake delivery of the order. Previously we had to key all order details into our business management system then jump onto another system, the one that organised our freight, and re key a lot of that data. It was a tedious and time consuming process which became especially problematic when our company grew and we found ourselves having to process up to 300 orders a day.
Into the Future
“Our success with this project demonstrated to us that system integration is not a problem for Jiwa. This is very reassuring for us to know right now because shortly we’ll be undertaking our next integration project, which will be linking Jiwa with our online store. Currently a lot of our customers email or text us with orders which we then manually convert into sales orders within Jiwa. The lack of integration between the two platforms is holding us back and we look forward to this becoming a thing of the past.”
For many small sized retailers and distributors who carry a sizeable number of product lines, keeping on top of pricing can be a challenge. The more products a company stocks and sells, the harder it can be to be totally confident that every single item is being shipped with the right price attached. For a long time at RapidG this wasn’t a problem. Prior to the company’s period of expansion RapidG’s team of three only had to manage a handful of orders a day, enabling any pricing structure related issues to be easily identified and resolved. But as the company grew things sometimes got a little unwieldly, much to the financial detriment of the company. However after Jiwa got deployed all was good again, as Brendan explains:
“When the number of product lines we carried became quite large we started having pricing issues”, he said. “For example there were instances where the price that we purchased a particular product from our supplier at went up but we failed to have that increase reflected in the price that we later sold that product to the customer at. It was only when we’d run a report months later that we’d discover that we’d been a selling a product at an unacceptably low margin or, worse, at a loss. It was not a sustainable situation and was proving costly.”
“However Jiwa enabled us to solve this problem. Thanks to the system’s customisation capabilities we were able to easily tweak Jiwa so that whenever a product’s price goes up the sell price to the customer automatically changes. Providing us with further peace of mind is that each pricing adjustment includes a minimum mark up. I don’t know how much money this Jiwa-driven operational improvement has saved us but it’s certainly a lot.”
One of the more common questions a business owner asks when they make a big change to their IT infrastructure is, ‘Will my staff be able to easily adjust to this new system?’ After all, if employees fail to get a handle on the new way of doing things all sorts of problems can occur. This is something that was of concern to Brendan, however after Jiwa got deployed he was soon put at ease.
“At RapidG we’re very grateful that the reality of Jiwa’s ease of use claim lived up to the promise”, he said. “We used to have an issue with new staff struggling to provide the right information when they’re responding to customer enquiries, mainly because the information they needed to access was scattered across different systems that took time to learn. But with Jiwa we don’t need to spend much time training new hires, and the task of giving the customers the right answers is easy because all the information is housed in the one platform. Thanks to Jiwa new staff can become effective in customer service very rapidly.
“An added benefit of Jiwa when it comes to getting staff comfortable with the technology is that the system can be easily configured to the individual user’s preferred way of working.”
As with plenty of other Australian businesses in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic forced RapidG to change the way it managed its projects – including the implementation of Jiwa, which was carried out in the second half of 2020. Rather than have external IT consultants assist with the deployment via a series of on-site visits (as is normal with this type of project), RapidG worked remotely with the team at Sydney based Jiwa Solution Provider (JSP) Attkey Computer Solutions. Meetings, workshops, and training were all conducted on the phone, via Zoom and over the web. While it’s somewhat unorthodox to undertake a major system implementation this way, no insurmountable hurdles surfaced and the project was executed to everyone’s satisfaction.
“This was the first time I’d ever embarked on a major IT system transition so naturally I was a bit apprehensive as to how it would all go”, said Brendan. “Adding to my apprehension was that, because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to have any external IT experts on our premises. But in the end it was a smooth, seamless transition. The Attkey team was superb, patiently and professionally guiding us throughout the project with what proved to be very effective Zoom group sessions and other forms of remote training and education.”
RapidG’s Jiwa solution has been up and running for approximately six months now. Not only has the Jiwa deployment enhanced efficiency, streamlined operations, boosted productivity, and reduced operating costs, it has also allowed the company to make better use of human resources.
“Jiwa’s automation of a variety of day to day manual tasks has effectively allowed us to shed two full time jobs at RapidG”, said Brendan. “Not that we retrenched anyone – we simply re deployed those people in other areas of the business where their contribution can be even more valuable, for example in areas focused on improving the customer experience. It goes to show that the benefits of Jiwa extend beyond simply improving both manual and technology driven business processes.”