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Case Study: Maverick Goes to Infinium and Beyond

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Just a few short years ago, Maverick Transportation was an east-of-the-Rockies operation based in Little Rock, Arkansas. The company had an aggressive expansion strategy but lacked the business processes and technical infrastructure to support it. In the highly competitive, low-margin, high-turnover transportation business, Maverick could not afford to focus only on the future. The company needed to be able to focus on day-to-day logistics while creating and executing a roadmap for continued growth and development. To achieve its goals, Maverick partnered with IBM and Infinium Software to deploy an integrated Financial Management, Human Resources/Payroll, and Supply Chain Management solution running on an IBM iSeries (AS/400) machine. Today, Maverick is a successful trucking company with 750 trucks and 1000-plus employees, including 765 drivers who travel 86,000,000 miles yearly covering the continental United States. Maverick's edge over the competition has consistently been its use of technology. The self-described "high-tech truckers" at Maverick were among the first at U.S. trucking companies to use satellite communication and to install email throughout the fleet. The company also uses Infinium's Manager and Employee Self-Service solutions to streamline and automate processes--even for remote users who are on the road.

Missing Pieces

Before Maverick opted for Infinium, it lacked an integrated ERP system to meet day-to-day requirements for scheduling, payroll, financial management, and human resources (HR). Traditionally, the driver payroll was run in the transportation system with office payroll. Although the system was generally effective, detailed reporting for tax and legal records was limited. Updating insurance benefits, for example, produced a crunch every month. Also, payroll data was on the iSeries (formerly AS/400), HR information existed in several databases on the local network, and general ledger and accounts payable were on a Windows NT platform. Maverick decided to integrate its software and create an iSeries solution that was reliable and easy to use, manage, and maintain. Members of Maverick's evaluation team thoroughly researched their software options. After talking to several trucking companies who were already using Infinium, Maverick chose Infinium Financial Management, Human Resources/Payroll, and Materials Management. Infinium's financial capabilities particularly impressed Maverick, according to Debbie Mitchell, vice president of finance, especially the flexibility in the general ledger account structure, as well as the ability to compare projected budgets to actual data and to conduct financial analyses of diverse segments of the business.

Teamwork Makes It Work

Maverick put Infinium's products and professional services team to the test when it first implemented Infinium Financial Management in 1997. To ensure a smooth conversion from the previous vendor's system, Maverick needed the payables module up and running in a live environment in fewer than 30 days. It took Infinium 10 days to integrate and bring the system up live. "I don't think it could have been pulled off if any pieces of that [Maverick and Infinium] team were missing," Mitchell said. "Everyone working together on it made the conversion successful, and Infinium gets a lot of the credit. Infinium said they could do it, and they did. In fact, it was one of the better implementations I have ever been through." The Maverick team believed that a company-wide implementation would be most effective, so it invested in on- and off-site training. "Some companies may train one or two people and expect them to train everyone else," said Michael Hufnagel, vice president of IT. "Then they flounder through implementation and say this product is not doing something. In reality, it could. They just haven't been trained on it. Knowledge of the product makes all the difference." Infinium brought in its training team for on-site instruction and sat one-on-one with Maverick department managers to define the software controls and guide them in converting the data. The team also helped Maverick managers decide which features were optimal and which ones weren't needed. The sessions took two days, but when the users completed training, they immediately began putting the Infinium software to work. "What helped most was that the training was in the business environment," Hufnagel said. "When users walked out of that training room, they walked into a live environment of Infinium's. They didn't have to sit and think for weeks or months about what they had learned and then try to remember it. When people had a question, the consultant stopped and addressed it until it was answered, so there was no apprehension in using the product or knowing what the product could or couldn't do." "Converting to a new system is usually difficult," said Martha Bennett, Maverick's controller. "But when you can give a system to new users and say, 'Okay, here's exactly how to use it,' and you provide documentation that takes the users through step by step, they accept the product a whole lot better." This process cuts down on the confusion and frustration and makes users feel better about being able to work, according to Bennett.

Smooth and Seamless

Infinium's reporting capabilities have had the greatest impact on Maverick. Before adopting Infinium, Maverick's financial people were downloading a file into a spreadsheet and then doing a series of macro commands to produce a statement. Infinium broadened Maverick's ability to provide more statements, and now that the information is integrated, the system and the process are seamless. Finance is not the only area where Maverick has benefited. Infinium's Manager and Employee Self-Service solutions have made life easier at Maverick by redistributing routine tasks required of the company's HR department. The solutions allow employees to manage their own benefits; managers and vendors can get data directly from Maverick's system. By eliminating these day-to-day transactions for HR and other staff, Maverick has become more productive and can add trucks and drivers without having to increase the administrative staff in the same ratio as it has in the past, according to Hufnagel. Instead, Maverick's administrative personnel are freed to focus on strategic initiatives, which ultimately generate improvements in productivity, morale, and quality of life as the company continues to grow. The combination of Maverick's satellite communication with Infinium Self-Service also means databases are open to truckers and other employees with email access and authorization any time of day, whether they are at their desktops at the office or using laptops while traveling around the country. Infinium Human Resources has helped Maverick's HR department increase overall productivity by 100 percent, according to Letha Bryant, vice president of human resources. Before implementing Infinium, Maverick had separate databases for information regarding new-hires, benefits, operating licenses, and physical exams. Payroll functions were performed by the company's transportation software. Something as simple as an address change had to be entered in six different places, requiring a lot of data entry and duplication. With Infinium Human Resources, information is entered into the system only once, and no paper passes from HR to payroll. With the process streamlined, Maverick employees are accomplishing more with the same resources. The Human Resources department now has a full-time staff of three for a company of almost 900 employees. Staffing has also been kept low in Maverick's accounting department because of Infinium's ability to easily integrate with other systems. Out of a staff of 16, only two people are doing data entry, since Infinium integrates with the company's transportation software to produce reports for financials as well as HR. Through this interface with the transportation software, Maverick uses Infinium's statistical financial accounting ability to monitor driving statistics, including actual miles driven by a truck, cost per gallon of fuel, and the miles traveled per gallon. "Monitoring these statistics and what drives these costs has helped us manage our fuel costs, which is critical when you consider the volatility of fuel costs," Bennett said.

Bring It On!

For Maverick administrators, using Infinium has resulted in enhanced productivity and data integrity, reduced overhead costs, and the ability to make better-informed operational and corporate planning decisions. "It's a total solution for the administrative side of business," says Mitchell. "You don't have an AP package that is trying to integrate to a GL package. To me, that's a big return on investment." Hufnagel sees qualitative improvement in processes at Maverick. "It is easier to work with our customers," he says. "Because of Infinium, we have the ability to analyze our business to make ourselves more profitable." He expects Infinium to steer Maverick successfully through additional growth phases, he says. Some companies might wonder when they go out and make an acquisition whether their financial software will fall apart or whether their payroll will be able to accept another way of handling people. "With Infinium, we have none of those concerns," Hufnagel said. "Our Infinium system is robust and flexible enough to handle whatever we throw at it. All I can say from our viewpoint is: Bring it on!" Jeff Wilgis, Director of Technology Standards and Integration, has been with Infinium for more than 11 years. Prior to his current role, Jeff held a variety of management positions within Infinium's Development, Tech Support, Sales, and Marketing organizations. He can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Infinium Software, Inc. 25 Communications Way Hyannis, MA 02601 Tel: 508-778-2000 Fax: 508-775-3764 Web: http://www.infinium.com/defaultFlash.asp Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Infinium's Application Portal: This end-user-personalizable application portal is the entry point to both Infinium applications and any other Web application the end user chooses to include in the portal.
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