In early 2015, fashion house Marc Jacobs—founded by head designer Marc Jacobs, and with over 200 stores in 80 countries—began a fundamental re-design as it merged from two brands to one brand. The plan: start 2016 with a new organization structure, new business processes, and new ways of working utilizing their core ERP system Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
“The scope was complex,” explains senior enterprise program manager Paul Jones. “We would be moving from two brands to one brand, making extensive changes to our business processes, and restructuring parts of the organization with re-shaped responsibilities.”
“We were using release 2 of Dynamics AX 2012, which wasn’t going to be able to completely support the new processes and we had some technical challenges that would prevent us from upgrading and maintaining flexibility for future design,” he explains. “So the plan was to move to Dynamics AX 2012 release 3, which would—but as an entirely new instance, and not as a simple upgrade.”
Formally begun in March 2015, supported by a team from its implementation partner, by July the project’s complex scope had begun causing the business some concern.
“It was a difficult project—as fashion business projects often are—and with an aggressive timeline and challenging scope,” explains Jones. “And by July, we had to accept that the impact of scope changes and skill shortages had put us behind where we needed to be if we were to go live in January 2016.”
Jones reached out to eBECS, knowing from past personal experience that eBECS had a deep bench of consulting and development resource.
“Our implementation partner had completed much of the analysis and design work involved in moving from Dynamics AX 2012 release 2 to Dynamics AX 2012 release 3,” he explains. “What we needed now was ‘hands-on’ help in writing the functional design requirements, developing the code, testing and training, and supporting the issue resolution process during the go-live.”
Bringing in a second implementation partner was an unusual move, accepts Jones. Yet the existing project team was clearly going to struggle to deliver the workplan in the time available.
But eBECS, Jones knew, would quickly and thoroughly get to grips with Jacobs’ requirements, and then draw on its global consulting and development arms in order to provide expert staff to bring the project back on schedule.
“I knew that eBECS’ consulting and development organization was up to the challenge, and I also knew that their people would fit in well alongside our existing team, with a skill set that would complement our existing team,” he sums up.
And very quickly, with what Jones describes as “impressive responsiveness”, eBECS’ developers and consultants began work. As expected, the new members of the team hit the ground running, and were soon making an important contribution to the overall team effort.
And in both cases, says Jones, Jacobs was reliant on the eBECS personnel to not only quickly get up to speed with the scope of the project, but also with the development guidelines that were being worked to.
“Initially, the focus had been to use as standard a Dynamics AX solution as possible, but we soon realized that wasn’t going to be possible, which was what had prompted us to go down the development route,” he explains. “The development guidelines were there to ensure that we were working to Microsoft best practice, in order to have the highest-quality solution possible.”
By fall, with the go-live date a few months away, the decision was taken to locate some of the developers on-site in Jacobs’ headquarters in New York, in order to further enhance their responsiveness.
“We had developers and business process owners sitting side-by-side in the same office,” sums up Jones. “The documentation was extensive, and the level of close collaboration we achieved was incredible.”
The project went live on schedule, on January 4th 2016—perfectly timed for the ensuing spring season, and with the new Marc Jacobs business processes and organization structure fully in place.
That in itself was a significant benefit, stresses Jones, and an outcome that at one point had looked uncertain.
And in the days leading up to and following January 4th, the eBECS consultants had again played a significant part in the project’s success, adds Jones.
“The level of commitment was 100%: if something needed doing, it was done, with evening and weekend work being routine, and a lot of travel entailed. There was training to be delivered, issues to resolve, and post-implementation support to provide,” he sums up. “One consultant flew to Italy, and spent two weeks supporting the Italian warehouse: the level of commitment could not be faulted.”
So would he then consider using eBECS again, in similar circumstances?
Jones is in no doubt as to his answer. “Absolutely,” he affirms.