Client Success Story

Alliance Steel Overcomes Flawed ERP Implementation, Expands Functionality with MCA Connect

Industry: Manufacturing

Solution: Rescue + stabilization of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain Management, Power Platform

Introduction

Alliance Steel, a primary division of Associated Steel Group based in Oklahoma City, specializes in pre-engineered steel buildings. With a skilled team of engineers and project managers, Alliance designs and manufactures everything from simple storage buildings to complex multi- building sites. However, the manufacturer struggled with a failing Dynamics 365 implementation that undermined its day-to-day operations.

Challenge

Implemented by a partner unfamiliar with manufacturing’s complex needs and challenges, Alliance’s system was slow, buggy, and prone to error. Specific challenges included:

Lost work and wasted hours

Entering contract details was a frustrating ordeal, often taking two hours due to frequent timeouts and failed saves. Fearing lost work from system crashes, many salespeople resorted to entering information after hours.

Incorrect calculations

Implemented incorrectly, Alliance’s tax compliance software calculated the wrong tax amounts. The system also miscategorized buyouts and freight, causing errors in sales commission payouts. These mistakes required tedious manual adjustments which further complicated calculation processes and increased the risk of additional errors.

Billing discrepancies

Alliance’s projects often involve multiple buildings, and customers typically prefer to receive and pay for materials one phase at a time. However, their old billing system was designed for progress billing and required Alliance to bill a percentage of the total project cost. This system often resulted in rounding errors, leading to inaccurate billing amounts. As a result, Alliance was repeatedly adjusting customer invoices to match the agreed project cost and ensure accuracy and customer satisfaction.

Flawed inventory reports

Configuration errors also affected inventory management. Alliance’s system was set up to record inventory out to six decimals, while forms and reports rounded those values to two decimal places. This discrepancy caused reports to include inventory that had negligible amounts like .00012 feet (reflecting them as “0.00”). The error created extra work and re- checking for inventory managers as the system falsely indicated usable material on hand.

Solution

Seeking urgent support with its system issues, Alliance Steel reached out to Microsoft for help. Familiar with our deep manufacturing expertise and strong track record of Dynamics 365 rescue experience, Microsoft recommend MCA Connect.

To identify root causes, our manufacturing experts completed a three-day assessment of Alliance’s shop floor, processes, and systems. As part of this, our team discovered Alliance was only using a fraction of Dynamics 365’s capabilities. They were also struggling with customizations for processes and tasks that should be supported out of box.

After the assessment, MCA Connect proposed a roadmap to stabilize, optimize, and expand Alliance’s system, applying manufacturing best practices, methods, and tools. The team also identified and executed 25-30 quick wins and simple fixes Alliance could implement immediately.

Results

Working with MCA Connect, Alliance resolved over 85% of their system issues in the first six months and user satisfaction grew dramatically. As MCA Connect helped stabilize and expand the system, Alliance:

Saved time and streamlined contract management

Alliance resolved contract entry issues by removing an unnecessary custom module that complicated the process. Alliance also streamlined the user experience, optimizing the tab order, removing unnecessary fields, and renaming others for clarity. These changes significantly reduced the time required to enter contract details and minimized system timeouts and failed saves.

The MCA Connect team also pointed out more efficient ways to modify contracts, saving Alliance staff 30 minutes per change. Following this initial work, Alliance re-captured over 50 hours of productivity per week.

Enhanced operational efficiency

To reduce confusion, MCA Connect eliminated an implementation error within inventory management, preventing the display of insignificant amounts of leftover materials. The team collaborated with Alliance to re-factor the billing system to eliminate problematic percentage-based progress billing and time-consuming rounding errors.

The MCA Connect team also identified and corrected classification errors affecting commission calculations. Dynamics 365 now automatically records and pays out commissions accurately, eliminating the need for manual adjustments.

“I don’t need a consulting group that just helps with specific tasks. I need a strategic partner that can help look at future projects, one that thinks about things differently and uses their experience and expertise to provide guidance and support. We finally have that with MCA Connect. I’m so excited to have a partner we can trust.”

Jamie Adamson, CIO,
Alliance Steel

Extended platform capabilities with Microsoft Power Platform

Alliance relied on manual, pen-and-paper methods for cycle counts and inventory deductions. This approach was time-consuming, error-prone, and required extensive data entry. To address these challenges, our team worked with Alliance to create two Microsoft Power Apps.

The first app streamlines cycle counts and year-end inventory by allowing staff to scan barcodes on raw materials and input counts directly into the system. This automation reduced the inventory counting process from 2.5 days to just a few hours, significantly improving efficiency and accuracy.

The second app tackles inventory deductions by automating how production staff record material usage. Operators simply scan barcodes, input the amount used, and the app writes the data directly to the Dynamics Movement Journal. This not only ensures accurate material tracking but also generates daily reports for inventory monitoring, significantly reducing manual errors and boosting operational efficiency.

The turnaround not only salvaged Alliance Steel’s investment in Dynamics 365 but also paved the way for potential expansion. Alliance’s success has inspired its sister company, ACI Building Systems, to consider Dynamics 365 as well. In addition, Alliance is evaluating Dynamics 365 Field Service and MCA Connect Inspire Platform™, our proprietary modern analytics platform optimized for Dynamics 365, for its future needs.

About MCA Connect

Through passion and deep industry expertise, MCA Connect® helps manufacturers succeed by unlocking innovation with actionable business insights. Our strategic solution and industry intelligence help manufacturers gain visibility, improve profitability, and achieve a competitive edge. Contact us today to learn how we can help solve your biggest manufacturing challenges.  

MCA Connect