The UK’s leading manufacturer of superior natural stone and innovative concrete hard landscaping products, Marshalls was established over 130 years ago and supplies the construction, home improvement and landscape markets, specialising in a wide range of products, design services and technical expertise. The Marshalls Group operates a diverse portfolio of business interests from managing its own quarries through to manufacturing goods and running regional service centres employing around 2400 people across 54 sites, not just in the UK, but also overseas.

This diversity is one of the key reasons that Marshalls relies heavily on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and after many years of using Baan software the company was looking for a solution that would fit better with its business strategy. Because Marshalls largely grows through acquisition, the solution had to be scalable to accommodate new businesses and systems quickly and efficiently into the Marshalls model, primarily to ensure a smooth transition, and to realise the financial benefit of the acquisition more rapidly.

“We were using the integrator eBECS to support our Baan solution, and because they understood our business we were able to work closely with them to select the best solution” said Paul Thomas, Group Information Systems Director at Marshalls. “They recommended Microsoft Dynamics AX and having assessed it for ourselves we could also see that it would provide the right levels of flexibility and scalability.”

“I’ve got over twenty years of experience using ERP packages, and I would say that Microsoft Dynamics AX is easily the best,” explained Steve Donnelly, Microsoft Dynamics AX Programme Manager, Marshalls. “This is because of its flexibility and its general usability – it is simple to customise – and this reduces lead times. By using more of the Microsoft stack, there are clear gains to be obtained in terms of total cost of ownership and return on investment. ”

One of the major advantages of Microsoft Dynamics AX to Marshalls is that it is intuitive, which makes it simple to use, and this has encouraged Marshalls employees to use it extensively and draw significant value for their business. , Marshalls has seen tangible benefits such as differences to costs, productivity, efficiency and customer service:

  • Cost reductions – thanks to visibility across all companies and departments, Marshalls can assess its common suppliers and customers, negotiating better deals across the group. Leveraging the new centralised functions Marshalls requires fewer people to manage them.
  • Finance - Marshalls was able to standardise finance processes across the Group, allowing it to reduce its reporting timescales and increase the accuracy of its reporting.
  • Better sales focus and increased productivity – The solution integrates with Microsoft’s Business Intelligence software to provide sales analysis, detailing which products have sold, in what quantities and the level of margin – thus helping the company to keep track and plan its future product line-up. Raising sales orders is much quicker because AX integrates smoothly with Marshalls ‘fast quote’ system, allowing the sales team to convert a quote into an order.  Internal sales staff now have more time to follow up leads, talk to customers and generate new business, rather than just processing data.
  • Document management – All files are now held electronically and are accessible to everyone. Information fed into Word documents provides the businesses with layouts specific to customer needs, with the necessary information available directly from the central files held in Dynamics AX.
  • Customer service – with Dynamics AX, Marshalls has improved customer experience, reducing errors and rectification costs.

Microsoft Dynamics AX has achieved everything that was promised in terms of flexibility, integration and usability for Marshalls and the company is aiming to ensure that all its existing businesses and acquisitions in the future will be using Microsoft Dynamics AX moving forward. Paul Thomas concluded: “It provides a flexible solution that can be adapted to meet the individual needs of your business. I would recommend it to anyone.”