Clarins BMS gets Sage, Linux facelift
Lower cost of ownership, greater flexibility and improved stability are all benefits that Clarins SA, the local arm of the French cosmetics manufacturer, expects to see following the migration of its Sage business management system (BMS) to an IBM-based Linux platform.
The move - brought about by the alliance between IBM and Sage Enterprise Solutions and managed by UniSource Software - builds on Clarins' BMS implementation a couple of years ago. And it comes ahead of the company's plans to move its warehousing operation to new, larger premises; absolute trust in its business management system is therefore crucial.
"It's safe to say that we couldn't run our business without the Sage Line 500 BMS," explains Perry Naidoo, financial director at Clarins.
"There are 16 users on the system which, in turn, controls a company with more than 150 employees nationwide. All sales, finances, stock control, warehousing and distribution processes are managed by the software."
While often considered the domain of large service companies, finance houses and manufacturers, the use of BMS software is rapidly becoming commonplace in the cosmetics industry.
"Clarins works with many of the large national department stores ... companies that are pioneering the use of IT for warehousing, distribution, sales, stock control, forecasting, financing and the like," points out Paul Gama, a director at UniSource.
"Having its own house in order is critical. In addition to deploying the core Sage Line 500 modules, we are using XML/EDI (electronic data interchange) modules that integrate our Sage Line 500 systems electronically with these large department stores."
A sales forecasting and replenishment system has also been developed. Given the nature of the company's business, seasonal shifts are an important factor in controlling stock. Clarins can input its projected sales for the upcoming quarter - depending on the season - and, using historical data, the forecasting system can predict the level of stock required.
Reporting is also important for the cosmetics company. Naidoo believes that management, sales, warehouse, finance and administration staff have all bought into the power of the BMS, primarily because they can view data in a way that helps them streamline business.
In light of this advanced functionality, the migration to Linux is interesting. Sage Enterprise Solutions - part of the greater FTSE-listed Sage Group - only recently announced the port of the Line 500 BMS to Linux (running an Informix database on IBM hardware). And rather than seeing it as a risk, Ashley Ellington, divisional manager for Africa at Sage Enterprise Solutions, believes it shows just how seriously companies are taking open source systems.
"Clearly, BMS is fundamental to Clarin's management of its business - it provides the appropriate financial checks and balances, and it gives the company a real-time feel for how the business is doing at any point in time," he says.
"That the company chose to run with Linux demonstrates its stability and as its lower total cost of ownership due to simplified licensing issues."