REVIEWER: Terri Gennaro, IT manager for BEGA-US.

BACKGROUND: BEGA-US, which is a privately held U.S. corporation, was founded in 1985 as a joint venture partnership with the managing partners of BEGA, located in Menden, Germany. After a modest beginning, essentially “converting” a limited number of European designs to U.S. standards, BEGA-US is now a $40 million corporation employing more than 100 people with a state-of-the-art, 80,000 square foot manufacturing facility and corporate offices located in Carpinteria (Santa Barbara), California. BEGA seeks to identify needs for lighting in today’s architectural environment and to fulfill those needs for both interior and exterior applications. BEGA is the source of a broad range of lighting products with uncompromising emphasis on elegance in design, superior materials and performance. Our objective is to make a positive contribution to the design of our environment, day or night.

PLATFORMS: We run the IBM System i5 on its native operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: VAI’s S2K Enterprise for Manufacturing solved several problems for BEGA. We were running a disparate accounting system and needed a software solution with the capability to integrate all of our purchasing and accounts payable functions. VAI customized a seamlessly integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution that allows BEGA to view financial data, inventory counts and purchasing activities in real time. BEGA needed a tailored solution similar to a configurator, which would allow our sales staff to customize products. However, because cost was an issue, and rather than allow dynamic product customization, we opted to simply create part numbers and utilize static builds for everything we sell. VAI was very accommodating and built the sales tool to meet our specific requirements.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: VAI customized an integrated ERP software solution for BEGA, supplying access to all of the firm’s primary business operations. The software features impressive drill-down capabilities. BEGA now has the ability to mine data efficiently and effectively, find needed information quickly and easily and allow management to make informed and complete decisions. Compared to the old green-screen sea of menus, VAI’s point-and-click interface is intuitive and less intimidating for end users. With S2K, management can view financial information, inventory counts and purchasing activities in real time. This ability streamlines operations for BEGA, improves customer service and facilitates accurate and timely business decisions - ultimately improving the company’s bottom line. For BEGA, this comprehensive view of real-time data has greatly improved our operations.

STRENGTHS: The custom sales tool that VAI created is undoubtedly one of the best features for us. In addition, the maintenance functions built into the sales tool coupled with the software’s significant drill-down capabilities are definite pluses for our company.

WEAKNESSES: The absence of line-item due dates has been difficult for BEGA. We’ve had to modify the product to incorporate line-item due dates. This is important for our business because we frequently ship individual items from an order rather than whole orders.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The fact that VAI was willing to customize their software to meet our needs was a significant selling point. The staff at VAI was very accommodating and helpful - they listened to what we wanted and gave it to us rather than trying to sell us something that we didn’t want or need.

DELIVERABLES: S2K provides a flash report, or a dashboard of orders and sales, allowing BEGA to easily view the day’s order status, including inputs, current and pending shipments and inventory data in real time. This has proven to be an invaluable tool for our company. In addition, because we write our own queries, the ability to export data and manipulate it in an Excel spreadsheet is a significant advantage for our company.

VENDOR SUPPORT: VAI has been great to work with. They offered considerable support both pre- and post-implementation. If we have a question or concern, our project manager is extremely responsive and always contacts us the same day to assist us. One of the best parts of working with VAI is that the company is extremely honest and helpful with any IT-related issue. Our project manager always remains calm, composed and friendly, identifying the problem and working to resolve it in a timely manner.

DOCUMENTATION: The product documentation could use some updating. VAI’s S2K user, project manager and help desk personnel are better able to clarify items from time to time.

S2K Enterprise for Manufacturing
Vormittag Associates, Inc. (VAI)
120 Comac Street
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
(631) 588-9500
http://www.vai.net/

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