“When you reach a certain development level, with a large number of clients, a large number of agents, 3 subsidiaries in the country, it suddenly becomes obvious that you cannot control the operations, understand the costs in detail, watch the stocks very well or follow the traceability without an ERP system. And SeniorERP had the characteristics we were interested in and in a great extent it also mattered the flexibility and openness of those with whom I have discussed because I wanted a vendor with whom to work over the long term.”
Who is Dacia Plant and what is its position in the market now? How did you come to the actual performance, in the 10 years of activity?
Dacia Plant is now one of the top 5 manufacturers of dietary supplements. We come here due to the passion for plants of the company’s founders, the fact that they took this very seriously and have kept in mind all possible quality criteria. They never did any compromises in terms of plants’ quality, we never use additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, that means all those elements that would make your life easier as a manufacturer, but do not guarantee the same quality of the final products. And as a result, we grew constantly year after year given that the market barely begins to develop in Romania.
Cosmina Oprea, General Manager of Dacia Plant
What plans do you have for the next years for Dacia Plant?
Since last year we began a very intense promotional activity. We do not address only to final consumers but also physicians and pharmacists. Some of them are more open, others less, but they are willing to try and if they are convinced of the benefits and efficiency of the products they will start to recommend natural dietary supplements to their patients. This is a very important direction.
Of course, we began with medicinal plants stores because that was the way the market was structured, but in the last two years we started to talk with pharmacy chains too for some collaborations. There are pharmacies that have told us that they paid market researches that will make them understand what their clients want and a lot of people told them that they want natural and Romanian products, and here we saw a match. So we began to expand in this area too. It is not very easy, trade conditions are much tougher, but it’s another development direction.
Besides the sales channels, do you want to expand the range of products or the current manufacturing capacity?
From the beginning of the year and so far we have launched more than 30 products. Every month we are launching new products and expand our range. In addition, we have started to make products specifically for the pharmacies that do not really need a doctor’s prescription but in general it is good to be at his suggestion. Therefore, the client can get them more quickly from other type of stores than from medicinal plant ones. And then we think about both the product and its presentation. Currently we have several projects through which we want to make products more suitable for pharmacies. Therefore we will expand the range of products with specific articles for the different sales channels.
Regarding our manufacturing capabilities, at present time they allow us to increase production without any additional investments. We want to expand the tinctures and laboratory department, but at the moment we can sustain the growth with the infrastructure we have. In any case, we also have the space and necessary knowledge to expand if it will be needed.
What is the role, from the point of view of your business, of the technological innovation? How necessary do you think it is for the proper carrying out of the company’s activities?
I could not say that technological innovation is now a decisive factor for us. It is important to have leading edge technology, in order to function at the highest quality standards, but in our field we speak of innovation especially regarding recipes, herbal mixtures. The manufacturing process itself is not very complex compared to the drug industry. The technology we use is simpler, it’s about clear flows that have to be met so you can preserve all of the plants’ properties in optimal conditions.
How did you realized the need for an integrated ERP system that will completely cover the activities of Dacia Plant Company? What were the reasons you decided to implement such a system?
It is absolutely natural for a company that starts from less to be able to grow and develop without necessarily having high-performance software systems. But when it reaches a certain level of development, such as a large number of customers, a large number of agents, 3 subsidiaries in the country, it suddenly becomes obvious that you cannot control the operations, understand the costs in detail, watch the stocks very well and follow the traceability – which is a very important aspect in our industry.
In the natural evolution of a company that grows and develops appears the need for an integrated system. Otherwise it’s impossible to control all the activities, to be able to increase the quality of the services offered to the clients, to understand very clearly what’s going on in the factory, where there are problems or where you need to work.
What was the company’s situation before the implementation and what kind of problems have you encountered?
There were typical problems that arise in the absence of an integrated system: the billing process was 3-4 times more complex than now. For example, the previous system didn’t allow us to create invoices with products with both normal price and promotional price or other combinations of products. There were cases in which one order had 4 invoices, involving an extremely large quantity of paper and manual work.
Then, there was no traceability, data wasn’t stored at a sufficient level of detail that allows you to extract reports after all the needed criteria so that to understand what happens on each channel, to see the evolution and performance of agents, to follow the costs and the profitability. At the same time, stock management was very complicated and there were problems with the manufacturing recipes and costs.
On the basis of which criteria did you choose the SeniorERP solution? What made you work with Senior Software?
We had discussions with several suppliers of such services. For me it was relatively easy to choose, because I worked with such systems before and I knew what I needed. Considering the profile of this activity that involves supply, manufacturing and distribution the requirements were clear to me. I knew what questions I should ask in order to help me understand if the system would be flexible enough for what we had.
It was supposed to match specific requirements that we identified as absolutely necessary. For example, it was supposed to be a flexible system in what concerns the billing and the management of the customers’ database and it was less important for it to allow very complex manufacturing processes.
SeniorERP had the characteristics that interested us, and to a certain extent it was important the reaction of those with whom I have discussed, their flexibility, openness, so as to realize with whom we could work on a long-term basis.
How was the implementation?
There were small problems, but either have been resolved on the spot or in a short enough time and did not affect the current activity or caused business interruption. They showed up because it is impossible, in the incipient phase of implementing an ERP system, to identify further needs absolutely 100% right, but from my point of view it was a good implementation.
How necessary do you consider an ERP system in your field, of food supplements production and distribution?
It is important for anyone who has production and distribution activities because above a certain point you cannot grow and control all the operations, unless, for example, you increase the administrative staff 3 times so that everyone to create bills and keep their record. It is a level, I do not know to tell you exactly what it is, but every company and every industry discovers it. If you have more complex operations, over a certain level you can no longer cope without an ERP.
What advice would you give to a manager who wants to implement an ERP system?
You cannot choose an ERP if you don’t consult with someone who knows the industry and who can help you identify correctly what you need from such a system. If you don’t have experience or you don’t consult with others who have interacted with such solutions, it is likely to discover after x months that you never thought that you’ll need certain things. That’s why it’s important to find a vendor with which to be able to work on a long-term basis.