Elizabeth Shaw
Rapid ERP implementation immediately pays
dividends at
Published: March 28, 2001
Solution Overview
Elizabeth Shaw
Software and Services
Microsoft Office 2000 Professional
Microsoft SQL Server 7.0
Microsoft Visual Basic
Microsoft Visual Basic
Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0
Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0
Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0
Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2002
Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
United Kingdom
B2C Electronic Commerce
Business Decision Makers
Elizabeth Shaw was in the middle of a complex ERP software deployment in February 2000 when its parent
company, Leaf UK Ltd, announced that it was putting the world famous UK chocolate manufacturer up for
Three months later, following a management buyout, Elizabeth Shaw was left with a factory workforce and
office space, but no administrative or IT infrastructure. Worse still, the company’s backers insisted that
Elizabeth Shaw be able to invoice customers from day one as a condition of their financing.
The need for fast action
The management team was faced with the choice of continuing with the deployment of Leaf’s BPCS
manufacturing software to its 150 Bristol-based employees, or building a new system from scratch.
Whichever option was chosen, the solution needed to be live within two months and eventually support a
host of core business processes from order processing and accounting to manufacturing control and
“The main aim was to rapidly create the infrastructure to support a new business,’ explains Malachy
McReynolds, managing director of Elizabeth Shaw. “Although we had inherited a business, it wasn’t a fully
functioning unit and we didn’t have basic things like a sales and marketing team.” It was essential, therefore,
to find a system that could be easily deployed and managed while the managers focused on recruiting and
other essential needs of the fledgling business.
Switching to a Microsoft-based solution
The Leaf-backed BPCS system, running on IBM AS/400s, had been deployed in some areas of the
business, but it was complex and expensive to maintain. Elizabeth Shaw turned to Exel Computer Systems,
a specialist provider of manufacturing software it discovered whilst browsing the Internet. After due
consideration Elizabeth Shaw eventually settled on EFACS software thanks to its greater ease of use and
faster implementation times.
“A lot of that is down to the Microsoft infrastructure,” says Barry Wilson, business development manager at
Exel Computer Systems. “Although BPCS was partially deployed, it made more sense to abandon it,” he
says. “However, it did mean that while we were installing EFACS, the staff could use BPCS as well.”
The partner
Exel Computer Systems provides specialist ERP and business systems for manufacturing organisations.
The UK-based company, which was founded in 1985, employs 90 people in Notttingham and Lichfield. The
company’s other customers include Imperial Tobacco, Royal Crown Derby and Sellotape.
The solution created by EFACS runs on a Windows NT Server 4.0 network, supported by Microsoft SQL
Server 7.0 and Hewlett-Packard Netserver. EFACS, together with Microsoft Office 2000 and Crystal Report
Writer, fulfils all the functions of Elizabeth Shaw’s business. The EFACS solution offers product definition,
sales and ordering support, manufacturing planning, material and production control, accounting and costing
Elizabeth Shaw required all of these features in its new IT system, making EFACS a good fit, explains
Wilson. “It was important to be able to set up accounts from day one, but Elizabeth Shaw were also looking
for all the other business functions in the manufacturing cycle.”
Lower training and support costs
As a Windows NT-based solution, EFACS was also simpler to use, a fact that translated into lower training
and support costs. “The main benefit for us was the fact that EFACS, with its comprehensive functionality,
could take over all the core business processes, including order handling and invoicing, production planning
and inventory control,” says McReynolds.
In the 12 months since deployment, McReynolds estimates that the company has saved in excess of
Fast implementation
A further major benefit for Elizabeth Shaw was the speed of implementation. The accounting package took
less than three weeks to configure and deploy, allowing the company to start trading immediately following
the management buyout. Over the following three months, Exel Computer Systems deployed additional
modules, including manufacturing planning and control. Within 12 months, all the elements of the EFACS
solutions were live.
Efficient maintenance
Maintenance of the new system is far more efficient thanks to the high levels of integration, McReynolds
says. “If we compare everything, hardware, software and operating system, then the total cost of ownership
is 50% lower than the previous BPCS system,” he says. This was particularly vital given the company’s
history. “The business plan wasn’t to particularly win new customers, but to serve the existing ones at a far
lower cost – and we have achieved that.”
Exclusively Microsoft
Although the EFACS solution was initially created in 1995 for a Unix environment, it now runs exclusively in
a Windows environment, explains Wilson. “About five years ago, we developed a second version of EFACS
for Windows NT and SQL Server, and now find it easier to develop just for Windows,” he says.
These tools have allowed Exel Computer Systems to add higher levels of integration and management to
the EFACS software, such as macros and tools created using Visual C++, Visual Studio, Visual Basic 6.0
and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).
Windows 2000 on the horizon
In the future, McReynolds hopes that the software will allow Elizabeth Shaw to be more competitive, and
increase its market share. The company is also looking to migrate to Windows 2000 in the near future.
Improving customer service
At present, improved access to information has cut bottom line costs significantly. “For example, sales staff
using the software can access order information and customer history data that is timely and in a familiar
Windows environment,” says McReynolds. “That improves customer service, makes us more responsive,
and has increased our customer retention and conversion rates.”
* Please note – you can see an interview with Malachy McReynolds, managing director of Elizabeth Shaw,
on the Microsoft Business Advantage CD. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/business
Press contact: [email protected]
UK CRP Principal

Microsoft Case Studies: Elizabeth Shaw