"Having this tool at our side and in such a short time is a real development opportunity for us but also a catalyst for integration within the LAP group."
Anaïs Roy, General Manager LAP France
A2J – the story of a French company specializing in advanced laser technology founded in 1983, a company which would link its future to that of its German competitor LAP 30 years later.
Historically, A2J has manufactured and sold lasers that help to position patients for their radiotherapy sessions. Thanks to its expert craftsmanship (precision to one tenth of a millimeter), the company quickly became the French market leader. It simultaneously developed its international business activities, particularly in Northern Africa and Asia.
Interestingly, LAP Laser System was founded just one year after A2J in 1984. As well as being active in the medical sector like the slightly older company, LAP developed a strong business in the area of precision cutting of parts for German manufacturers. With a turnover of €55 million and 350 employees, LAP is a leading international SME in its market.
However, LAP was unable to firmly establish itself in France: the famously steadfast A2J Gallic community, its history, its network, its range of entry-level products, and its more aggressive prices systematically defeated the competition from Germany. The history of the two companies then became intertwined in 2013 when the LAP group bought out the A2J business in France.
A short while later, Anaïs Roy was appointed the General Manager of A2J due to her international career and her professional experience at various medical equipment suppliers. Here is what she has to say about the company at that time: “All areas of A2J were managed using Excel, from managing stock to financial reporting. During the LAP takeover, we encountered difficulties when trying to provide an accurate margin calculation and stock valuation within a short time frame. We were also confronted with issues when it came to traceability, something which is essential in the medical sector. Overall, even though employees took their work very seriously, the reliability of the data came down to human competence, which meant there was a high risk of error. Sharing information between colleagues was also complicated and required everyone to be present. This issue of compartmentalizing information had been amplified by unavoidable time differences, since some of our business takes place internationally.”
From this moment, the French leader, which had now become a subsidiary of an international SME, started to benefit from the dynamics of being part of a group. The group launched a project to upgrade all ERP systems of the company to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. This was a stroke of luck for A2J and enabled the company to benefit from all the latest Microsoft technologies at the same time as the group’s subsidiaries in China, the United States, and Singapore.
Anaïs Roy was entrusted with the ERP project in France and had full autonomy when it came to selecting their Dynamics system integrator. “I always research at least three partners online no matter what the task,” she says. It wasn’t long before she picked out COSMO CONSULT from her initial research and confirmed her choice via the Microsoft Partner Center platform. “What I liked about COSMO CONSULT’s approach was their excellent responsiveness and the relationship that we established with both the commercial team and the consultant who was assigned to us. An IT project is first and foremost a human venture. The geographical proximity of a branch of the company just thirty minutes away from our premises in the Paris area also played an important role. We later discovered that COSMO CONSULT was also the partner for the LAP head office in Germany.”
All systems go – the specific requirements meant it was possible to precisely define the scope of the A2J project: purchases, sales, stock management, as well as the production module for assembling laser parts, with the “pure” manufacturing having been incorporated into the LAP group in Germany. “In the implementation of the project, we opted for an approach adapted to suit the size of A2J, taking into account employee availability. A small project team was established comprising three people from the client side. This meant that discussions were highly productive, and decision-making was made easy thanks to a system of iterative prototype delivery, which verified the assumptions made by the project group,” explains our manufacturing consultant who was assigned to the project.
Thirty days of support with various partners from logistics, export, finance, and management are also planned into the schedule. The simple and pragmatic process played out as follows: “How will you complete this task today? ” “Is it useful and/or still necessary?”, then: “Here is how it works in Dynamics NAV”, and finally: “Is this way of working right for you? Does the standard software need to be adapted to your needs? ”. This approach allows the company to benefit from the standard processes available in Dynamics NAV within an optimum lead time. The next stage is prototyping to gain a comprehensive overview of the solution and define the final software configuration. This approach made it possible to model all A2J activities in the standard version of Dynamics NAV without the need for any special development. Moreover, we have integrated the analytical structures of the group and capitalized on the document formats already in place (orders, delivery notes, invoices, etc). This has optimized the times and costs involved in implementation.
Anaïs Roy tells us that the project, which was launched in February, has been completed well within the specified time frame and has impressed LAP headquarters. “The group’s IT department warned us that implementing an ERP project like this one would take about 9 months, and we managed to do it in just four months with the help of COSMO CONSULT. ” This positive feedback has been a new step forward integrating the small Gallic “village” which now took the name of LAP France. The benefits are manifold and have been immediately evident:
Each employee now has specific rights in line with their role in the company. This ensures confidentiality and protection of sensitive information.
Information distribution and reliability
Anytime, anywhere, any device: Every employee is able to access the entire information system or parts of it at any time, from anywhere, and using any connected device. The shared database provides access to information in real time. If a price needs to be updated, for example, there’s no need to send out a new price list. You can simply modify the price in the system, and everyone will have access to the correct information.
Incomparable time savings
Access to information is instant and processes are automated. You get the information you need in a single click. The time gained can then be used for other tasks.
Company structure and flexibility for employees
One employee in particular has been able to benefit from an unexpected advantage: remote working! In fact, thanks to the centralization of information, she is no longer required to work on site and has been able to move to the countryside far away from the office. In addition, it is now easier to incorporate new employees: The Dynamics NAV ERP system supports internal company processes by providing a uniform way of working and minimizes the risk of error.
Ease of use
Change management for users is a key element of success. Everyone is already familiar with the Microsoft universe (Office 365, Outlook, Skype, etc.), which makes the tool user-friendly.
A compliant system and a rapid ROI
Reducing the time required for manual retyping and the opportunities for analysis in Dynamics NAV have created instant savings. For example, reducing the services required from accounting firms (sending sales and purchase logs) and simplifying financial audits for the group financial consolidation. Of course, the system is also compliant with national and international tax obligations.
Acquiring ISO 13485 certification – quality management for medical devices
As a manufacturer, distributer, and installer of medical equipment, LAP France needs to demonstrate the effectiveness of its quality management system (QMS). In order to fully comply with the relevant regulations, the french subsidiary has been audited for ISO 13485 certification – an audit which verified the implementation of the Dynamics NAV ERP solution.
Increased level of service
When a client calls, we have an instant and reliable overview of our stock, which means we can provide accurate information in response to their request.
A powerful reporting tool
The french subsidiary and LAP group now benefit from a shared reporting tool. Every month, various reports are generated automatically and provide a 360° overview of the activities in the subsidiaries. In addition, the analytical structures required by the group enable coherent and uniform reporting. More broadly, Dynamics NAV makes it possible to introduce a global strategy and to keep up with the evolution of the group’s information system.
“Having access to this tool within such a short time frame is a real development opportunity for us, but it has also facilitated integration into the LAP group,” adds Anaïs Roy. The Dynamics NAV ERP solution is now the basis for future developments of the information system, and this will prepare the company for a more comprehensive digital transformation. Sales, marketing, customer service, artificial intelligence, business intelligence – entry into the Microsoft ecosystem has opened up new prospects... The small Gallic organization has been launched directly into the digital age.