Geest boosts supply line with Softline Enterprise BMS

Johannesburg, 12 Apr 2005
Read time 3min 50sec

Geest SA, a supplier of fresh fruit products to the international market, is seeing immense benefits from a recently-completed implementation of a business management solution (BMS) undertaken by Softline Enterprise and its partner, ALK Systems Integrators.

Owing to the critical nature of its just-in-time business model, Geest chose Softline Enterprise's Sage Line 500 solution for its materials resource planning (MRP) and logistics strengths, as well as its ability to link with its customers' Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) requirements.

A further module for quality control - which interfaces with the Line 500 software - was developed by ALK Systems Integrators. The BMS implementation uses Microsoft SQL Server as a back-end to the Sage Line 500 software, and typically hosts around 15 concurrent users.

"Our requirements were quite different to most manufacturing operations in that our processes are not that complex. We make pre-packaged fruit salads and other such products, so fundamentally from a manufacturing point-of-view, it is a simply a matter of cutting-up fruit. However, dealing with fresh produce demands keeping track of inventory and ensuring it comes in and goes out as quickly as possible is key to our business," says Nigel Wilkes, finance manager at Geest SA.

For example, a simple logistics problem which could lead to an undersupply of a single raw material - such as a particular fruit variety - could lead to hundreds of thousands of rands in lost business opportunity.

"To avoid such incidences, stock planning is absolutely critical. We get orders to deliver 20 tons of packaged melon balls per week and to supply that, we have to place orders with farmers some 20 weeks in advance - and commit to buying that produce," says Wilkes.

"But we also need to be able to assess our yield from our raw materials - literally per piece of fruit. Therefore, we need to keep track not only of which farmer is supplying which produce, but even which field it was grown in so that should we be getting a lower yield than we expect, we can address it."

Keeping track of stock is another major challenge for Geest. It may take delivery of 50 tons of mangoes, in different stages of ripeness. The company must therefore be able to keep accurate account of which can be used immediately and then predict when the rest will ripen.

Geest assessed several competitive options, but the combination of Softline Enterprise's Sage Line 500 and ALK Systems Integrators ultimately proved the optimal choice.

Remarkably, the company had - prior to the deployment of Sage Line 500 - been performing all of its various procedures manually. That meant there was a considerable opportunity to create an ideal infrastructure without having to interface to legacy systems.

Geest has deployed finance, purchase ordering, distribution and inventory control modules and also makes use of EDI interfacing to its customers.

"We're seeing major benefits because we can now timeously import sales orders into Sage Line 500 and estimate our sales for the week. We have also increased visibility about what we are doing on a daily basis, which has had a significant impact on our bottom line," says Wilkes.

"As for EDI, we get orders from our clients, which will then be modified in the afternoon, again the following morning, and then shipped by noon. We used to do this manually, but with EDI, it is dramatically simpler to manage orders - in fact, we have reduced the time spent on an order by 80%. The importance of this cannot be overstated when you consider that we get up to 100 orders per day."

"This was an interesting implementation for us because there was an entirely unique set of customer requirements, including a completely new module which we had to develop," says Andre Kleinhans of ALK Systems Integrators. "Without any legacy systems to take account, we were able to roll-out a new end-to-end system that gives Geest a much better real-time view of where its business stands."


Softline is a leading provider of accounting, payroll and CRM software solutions to small, medium and large companies. Founded in 1988 by Ivan Epstein, Alan Osrin and Steven Cohen, Softline was established during the formative years of the software industry and listed on the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa in February 1997. Softline expanded to establish a strong position within its area of focus in SA and Australia.

Focused on the development of accounting, payroll and CRM software solutions, Softline has been a market-leader for 16 years. The group has a broad range of products offering users a variety of software solutions to run their businesses efficiently. Softline's leading brands include Softline Accpac, Softline Enterprise, Softline Pastel (Accounting and Payroll) and Softline VIP. The combination of the group's product offerings provide Softline customers with comprehensive, well-branded accounting, payroll and CRM software solutions.

In November 2003, Softline was acquired by Sage Group plc, an established FTSE 100 company. The group includes market-leading businesses throughout the UK, Europe, North America, SA and Australia, supplying business software to the small, medium and large business community.

softline has a solid track record of profitability and cash generation. The group delivers quality accounting, payroll and CRM software solutions that improve the efficiencies of businesses around the world. Sage

The Sage Group plc is a leading supplier of accounting and business management software solutions and related services for small, medium and large enterprises. It comprises market-leading businesses throughout Europe, UK, North America, SA and Australia. The Sage group plc has over 4.3 million small and mid-sized customers in 55 countries and 8 000 staff.

Softline Enterprise

Softline Enterprise is a leading supplier of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, delivering performance and Web capability that is essential for success in today's competitive business environment. Addressing finance, distribution, manufacturing, services and e-business requirements, the product offering also supports and consolidates activity across expanding business needs. Available on a wide range of operating systems and compatible with a host of industry leading databases, it gives mid-range and larger organisations the reliability and scalability required to keep ahead of competitors. Softline Enterprise products are supported through a network of accredited partners which bring together the individual product and service components to deliver a complete and tailored solution.

Softline Enterprise products include:

Line 500 - offering all the advantages of a traditional ERP solution, Line 500 provides tight financial control with full visibility of costs and powerful reporting tools. In addition, it includes an evaluation of market trends to assist customers to make informed strategic decisions. The product also manages cash flow through close budget control and efficient purchase requisitioning and supports international business with multi-language, multi-currency, multi-company features. It includes vertical solutions such as manufacturing and retail.

SalesLogix - an affordable, fully scaleable and powerful CRM solution that is easily customised for medium-sized and divisions of large corporate businesses. Sales Logix is designed to integrate seamlessly with other business software and back-office applications, providing customers with a holistic view of each customer.

Editorial contacts
third wave communications Colin Browne (011) 804 5271
Softline Enterprise Ashley Ellington (011) 807 4147
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