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Martela | Trust in the ERP partner was built on the factory floor

Martela_D365 Virpi Hänninen, IT System Manager, Martela
↑ Virpi Hänninen, IT System Manager, Martela

”Customer problems are taken seriously and are not left hanging. We can both rely on the fact that agreed matters will be handled.”

The production and logistics center located in Nummela is the heart of Martela's business: for over six decades, the factory walls have witnessed the full life cycle of numerous pieces of furniture – from the assembly of new furnishings to the refurbishment of used ones and the reuse of parts.

In recent years, the factory has also been the stage for another kind of transformation. In 2023, Martela updated its outdated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to the modern cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics 365 business platform, which today directs Martela’s procurement, warehouse management, production, sales, purchasing, and financial management processes. “The system is used very extensively by us”, describes Virpi Hänninen, Martela’s IT System Manager. “I have seen companies that use ERP systems much more narrowly. When I came to Martela, I was surprised at how extensively ERP is utilized here.”

Founded in 1945, the family business has grown over the decades into a publicly traded company and evolved from a furniture manufacturer into a pioneer of user-oriented work and learning environments. The company’s goal is to offer its customers the best service in the industry, and the efficiency of operations management has a direct impact on that. “When a sales order arrives in the system, it is crucial for us to stay on the promised schedule for the customer”, Hänninen characterizes. “With Dynamics 365, we can coordinate the entire long process from order to delivery in one place, which brings transparency to the different stages of the process and enables the full optimization of the operations of the Nummela factory.”

The truth comes from the mouths of customers

For the strategically important system upgrade, Martela chose Efima as its partner. The decision among the top three candidates was made based on the experiences of reference customers: “It was important for us to be able to interview the customers of the supplier candidates, and with Efima, reliability strongly emerged. It’s a big deal that a customer can trust the supplier in every situation – that the agreed matters are done and adhered to”, Hänninen explains.

At the beginning of the collaboration, Efima was responsible for the maintenance of Martela’s old ERP system, and in 2022, the implementation project began, which Hänninen praises as the most successful of her career: “The implementation of Dynamics 365 with Efima’s support was one of the least painful projects I’ve been involved in. Our project manager has nearly two decades of experience in similar projects, and they stated that this project is right there at the top of the list. The implementation was carried out almost to the second as it had been timed during the testing phase."

At best, the team bonds together

Hänninen gives credit for the success to both Efima’s and Martela’s staff for their dedication to the upcoming change and to each other. Before starting the project, Martela interviewed Efima’s experts so that the future colleagues would become familiar, and introduced them to the daily life of Martela’s staff. “The project was launched with a joint introduction tour at the Nummela factory – there we wandered between warehouse shelves examining what could be found where, and looked at which button would produce what kind of label”, Hänninen recalls. “The project started off very smoothly after that, once Efima’s consultants had the necessary understanding of our daily activities.”

Most of the project was also carried out at the heart of the business in Nummela, and Martela’s end-users acted as counterparts to Efima’s experts from the beginning of the project. “End-users ultimately know best what is required from the system. Their involvement also commits them to the change and to new ways of working”, Hänninen describes and recommends involving end-users in the project as early as possible. “This was a very exceptional system project in that there was hardly any resistance to change. We all wanted to build a better and more functional system for us.”

Martela’s slogan “Happy Mondays” reflects the company’s effort to ensure that Mondays – as well as other days – are pleasant to come to work. This goal was also achieved in cooperation with Efima, and Hänninen warmly recalls the team-building that took place during the project: “At first, it’s always a bit quiet with new people – but eventually, they started to banter with each other and you could really see that the group was becoming cohesive and that the work was actually fun. Especially when we saw together that different functions were starting to work as planned.”

Towards a culture of continuous improvement

The trust and good cooperation built on the factory floor have continued into the post-implementation routine. Efima is responsible for the maintenance of the new cloud-based ERP system and supports Martela in the continuous development of the solution. “Customer problems are taken seriously and are not left hanging. We can both rely on the fact that agreed matters will be handled”, Hänninen describes the pillars of cooperation.

For Martela, the transition from an old, local ERP system to a cloud service updated twice a year has been a cultural change – albeit a positive one. “Our previous system was set in stone, and problem areas were not addressed. Now our ERP system is constantly evolving and we are continuously benefiting from new functionalities”, Hänninen characterizes. It has been important for Hänninen to ensure that the preparation and testing of version updates do not become too burdensome for anyone, and in this, Efima’s best practices and continuous contact with a designated service manager have been valuable: “From Efima’s service manager Henrika, we receive as much support and the best tips as we can ask for and understand. She has experience from several different customers and the ability to see things more broadly than us.”

Hänninen encourages other companies facing change to be brave: “Such a system change from on-premise to the cloud should not be feared. When you have a reliable partner who truly understands the customer’s business and its operating methods, the transition is relatively easy and the result is rewarding. I consider Efima to be a very reliable partner in such a change – that has become clear over the years.”

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