Upturn for Bergans with new ERP

Ranja Ovedal

Extensive investment in its own IT systems has yielded good results for Bergans Fritid AS. Together with Evidi, they have set up sustainable and modern operations and, especially, better and safer customer experiences online.

The project started in 2018, with a complete review of the IT systems. The analysis showed that the systems worked individually, but that the links in the value chain were not connected. Much was done manually, and it became clear that there was a need for modernisation," says Chief Information Officer (CIO) in Bergans, Espen Jensen.

He has led the process of renewing the business systems including the e-commerce solution, store systems, PLM, PIM, warehousing and logistics.

Quick project

The process was completed in a record-breaking eleven months, despite warnings.

- Some argued that we should use a minimum of three years, but we thought we would achieve better results by working more intensively over a shorter period of time. If one is to enter into such processes, it is a matter of great involvement, otherwise one should refrain. We were a project group of seven people, who devoted at least 40% of their time to the project during the entire period. If you want to get a good solution, it is crucial that you understand processes and systems throughout the value chain, says Jensen.

He explains that this was also key when the project group was choosing a supplier. The partner naturally had to be professionally strong and, in addition, Bergans wanted to work with people they could actually meet and build a relationship with.

- A close partnership is particularly important in the period after we went live. The fact that our people had a direct dialogue with the developers at Evidi, and knew who was working on what, was crucial when we were solving urgent cases, says Jensen.

The system Bergans chose is the renowned Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, which is suitable for small and medium-sized businesses. This means the order of magnitude in which the majority of Norwegian enterprises find themselves.

Espen Jensen, Bergans, and Bjørn Vegard Martini, Evidi

Modern system and new routines

The new solution went live on 11th November 2019, and the system was quickly put to the test. Ordering, payment, transportation, warehousing (in Germany), logistics, returns and accounting, as well as flows between different companies, countries and currencies, were to be handled with minimal manual work alongside full control and management.

As an example, all products are now RFID tagged and the inventory accuracy has increased to 99.8%. New deliveries are registered in seconds and in Bergans' flagship store in Oslo, covering just over 600 square meters, the inventory count is now done in well under an hour.

- It has exceeded all expectations; the systems work together, and we have handled growth well. There have been some growing pains, but the challenges have been solved as they arose, says Jensen

Control of processes

The most important benefits are that Bergans has gained control of the processes and that they are rigged for future growth. But, even after this great effort, Jensen will not conclude that they are finished.

- I think we, and others, will switch applications far more often in the future. Robotisation, RFID tagging and video technology will provide new features and new opportunities that can be hooked to the existing system. But because we have ownership of the value chain and control of the processes, we are now equipped for this.

- Today, IT has a role in almost all strategic decisions. It is strange, then, that some business leaders primarily view IT as a major expense, and do not include IT in their management team, says Jensen.

He has one clear piece of advice for companies that want to renew their business systems: Define clear strategic choices, take ownership of the process, prioritise it high and set aside enough resources.

Sustainability brings new demands

Bergans also has a clear commitment to sustainability from product development with design and choice of materials, through production and transport, to use and to repair, resale, redesign or reuse. This places new demands on the business systems behind it and requires new thinking.

- A modern business system must take into account that all production, products and material choices must be transparent and traceable. But, in addition, we will now take into account that mortgages, repairs and product rental are part of our value chain," says Jensen

He refers to several innovative pilot projects at the 112-year-old hiking equipment manufacturer: Through DNT cabins and the flagship store in Oslo, they have started renting out hiking equipment. Through the online store, you can deposit hiking clothes that you no longer use. Bergans also offers repairs of products through its own sewing room. Old products are repaired or used for the redesign of new products, which are sold in the flagship store.

- Bergans is a company with a rock-solid, proud history, which is also able to think more forward-looking than most. It also makes it exciting for us as a supplier. The fact that they have had strong ownership of the project and at the same time great openness and close cooperation with us as a supplier, I believe, has been decisive for the result,” says Richard Larsen in Evidi.