A business unit of CSA Ocean Sciences, SeaRobotics is an SMB that is transitioning from a custom-engineered and prototyping house into a manufacturer of configurable autonomous maritime vehicles. Theirs has been an engineer and build to order process that they would like to standardize into more of a configure-and-build from standardized components driven by new investors. SeaRobotics has been the engineering and manufacturing work for the water rides at Universal Orlando in Florida and continues providing support for the theme park’s water attractions. The company has also developed and deployed the HullBUG which, much like a robotic vacuum for the household, cleans hulls on large ocean-faring vessels.

The Challenge

As primarily an engineering firm, each aspect of the SeaRobotics’s business processes were tied to specific projects. There were issues of:

  1. Stock Inventory or inventory control, as nothing is purchased to stock.
  2. Deliveries being regularly late because there had been no way to schedule purchases or jobs.
  3. Reports were generated from multiple sources, including spreadsheets, and were not available on a timely basis.
  4. SeaRobotics could only recognize revenues at the completion of jobs. This left management in the dark as far as financial performance due to revenue being highly concentrated at random periods.
  5. The business processes were heavily manual and dependent on one-to-one communications to achieve each step.

The heavy reliance on spreadsheets became cumbersome and fell short in supporting the projects and resources at SeaRobotics. Additionally, the company had outgrown its legacy system, Sage for accounting, purchasing, and project management. As a result, Project Management and the related revenue recognition were the most heavily investigated functionality being evaluated by the president, sales and operations. Integration of engineering design and BOM from first Solid Works and then PDM was another consideration of SeaRobotics’ evaluation team. While many business systems were evaluated, none had the support required for SeaRobotics’ operations team, save for Epicor ERP.

an image of a searobotics product on the water

The Project

After a lengthy selection process, Epicor was selected as the system to be implemented for several reasons. Namely, for SeaRobotics’ size, Epicor addressed the greatest number of challenges in an integrated package and offered proven “best practices” to there unique business processes.

Jim Browning, the COO and implementation Project Manager, relied on Encompass’ managing partner Sonia Haslam for advice on how to overcome issues arising from Epicor’s cookie-cutter implementation steps. Encompass consultants were brought on to adapt the system to more appropriately fit a smaller company in which staff whore multiple hats.

The implementation project was headed by Joe Sunderhaus of Encompass who designed the build to address five key requirements set by SeaRobotics. Their requirements were:

  • For staff to be self-reliant in training and process development using Epicor User/Implementation manuals
  • Project Management with WBS history that could be aligned with their old systems, plus monthly revenue recognition
  • The streamlined interface of Engineering and Epicor BOMs
  • Standardized business processes that eliminated the previously inefficient personal communication and follow-up necessary to complete any order
  • Better Job Planning and Scheduling of projects

To address these requirements, Encompass staff setup a workshop-oriented series of remote sessions with stepped through single functional areas. Additional, “homework” at the end of each session was assigned to ensure a complete grasp of the concepts presented.

an image of the searobotics HullBug

Next, the Encompass team helped SeaRobotics staff to overcome unique business issues with standard Epicor functionality on-demand. In order to keep costs down, Encompass kept site visits to a minimum. Remote training and education efficiency made this a cost-effective and effective process, though more training is needed for staff to assimilate to the “Epicor way” of doing things, rather than reverting to the way things were always done.

for the engineering and project components of the project, Encompass facilitated Qbuild in delivering CADLink and then stepped back, letting the vendor work directly with SeaRobotics engineering personnel. Now that the system is live, staff can put their new-found knowledge to use. However, there is more work to be done and weekly status meetings will continue, reviewing accomplishments and setting objectives for the following week.

The Results

With a completed and successful Go-Live in July 2019, SeaRobotics received the functionality they were seeking in a brand new Epicor ERP system and on budget. That said, no project is without its road bumps. In the case of SeaRobotics’ ERP implementation, the inability for critical team members to step away from business demands and focus on Epicor caused their initially projected April go-live to slip into July.

Now that the new ERP system is in place, the company has committed to using better procedures in-line with the system to run their business. Encompass will support a first month-end on August 5 and 6 as well as outline a Phase 2 to include added functionality to be later submitted for board approval. Our two companies will also discuss whether Epicor can/should be extended to include SeaRobotics’ sister company, integrating the manufacturing processes between the two companies to maximize the manufacturing resources.

Additional Details

Founded –1999
Location – Stuart, FL
Industry – Manufacturing
Employees – 25
Epicor Version – Currently 10.2.400
Deployment – Cloud MT

About SeaRobotics

SeaRobotics was founded in 1999 to pursue the development of robotic systems for deployment in the marine environment. The company has assembled a staff of highly qualified engineers, technicians, and personnel with extensive offshore and field experience. SeaRobotics specializes in developing products and technology for the maritime industry, producing autonomous, semi-autonomous and remote-control systems. The company focuses on commercial, government, and defense markets around the world.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.

I’ve been reading many opinion articles lately about New Year ERP implementations. Namely, shooting for the New Year, January 1, as the day the new software goes live. None of them had a particularly rosy outlook on that goal: Your employees, if they’re not all still on vacation, won’t be back into the rhythm of things after the holidays, will still have work to attend to and catch up on, and so on.

I agree, it seems impractical, maybe even impossible. But this is where Encompass shines. In fact, we are, RIGHT NOW, taking four of our clients to Go-Live over the new year on their brand new Epicor ERP 10 systems. It can be done, and done well! Here are some of our tips and tricks we keep in mind while we get our clients running right out of the gate.

Consider This For New Year ERP Implementations

If you’ve got your sights set on a New Year Go-Live, consider these important factors to make your implementation and subsequent onboarding a much smoother process.

Strong Employee Support

It’s not a bad idea to postpone a launch of new software until everyone at the organization has had the time to settle back into the rhythm of the day-to-day, to catch up with outstanding items, and, of course, serving customers and processing deliverables. While all this means that there is less focus on system adoption, an external company such as Encompass can provide the support needed to take your users through it successfully and painlessly.

Walking Before Running

Some argue that business is slower at the start of the year, and that there are not enough transactions happening that will test the full functionalities of the system, or allow it to run at full capacity. This is a good thing! Your team, already spreading their focus onto ramping back up into the new year, won’t be under pressure to process orders while learning the new handles, or to do so at full speed. Rushed mistakes are costly to any company!

Change Management

Preparedness is key. Before the New Year begins and the switch happens, you need to be ready for it, and that also means being ready when things start to go wrong. Our post on Change Management provides a glimpse at the solutions we can help provide.

Feel the Fear

… And do it anyway! Rip the band-aid off, tell your dad to let go of the bike seat, jump right in the deep end. The best way to learn something is to do it, so don’t mistake hesitating for preparing. The time you lose waiting is time you could be using learning and improving.

We at Encompass Solutions would like to wish all of you a smooth and successful start to the New Year!

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.