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Microsoft Dynamics 365
Ever walk into a hotel room and feel instantly transported by the sleek upholstery, luxe blackout curtains and oh-so-comfortable bedding? If so, Valley Forge Fabrics (VFF), a leading provider of textiles in the hospitality and commercial industries, would consider that reaction a major success. From luxury linens to window treatments to decorative hardware, VFF is on a mission to bring happiness to travelers through its designs and high quality products and services.
As the tight-knit, family-owned business looked to the future, Valley Forge Fabrics realized that to stand out as a leader in the hospitality space in a post-pandemic world, it needed an operations platform that could help connect its business and address key pain points. Manual processes — including quoting, procurement, manufacturing, sales and distribution, and financial management — combined with outdated software and disparate, nonintegrated systems created business and technology challenges. Project managers spent the bulk of their time coordinating with vendors and third-party logistics providers without centralized information, which also impacted customer quote times. For a company so enmeshed in hospitality, addressing these operational challenges to provide top-caliber customer service was a high priority on its growth path.
Valley Forge Fabrics recognized an opportunity to transform the way it does business and position itself for the future. It leaned on the wealth of its employees’ knowledge to rethink and restructure its operations, starting with the root issues: disconnected business systems and processes, siloed data and governance controls. Guided by VFF leadership’s expansive vision, the company kicked off a collaborative project called The Forge, which positioned cloud-based digital technology as the catalyst for driving new efficiencies within its organization.
By bringing multiple systems across the front and back offices into Microsoft Dynamics 365, VFF aimed to optimize and automate accounting and control processes to strengthen compliance across its finance function, create a single source of truth to inform planning and decision-making, and make it easier to collaborate with customers, vendors and third-party logistics providers. To assist with digitalization, the company leaned on its existing relationship with PwC. The firm’s experience in finance, supply chain management, manufacturing, project operations and enterprise resource planning (ERP) made for an ideal fit to create this unique solution in the hospitality industry. Together, they embarked on a two-year journey to make VFF’s operations faster and more efficient, preparing the company for accelerated growth through a fully integrated digital platform.
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Valley Forge Fabrics and PwC started by blueprinting a framework that could incorporate end-to-end operational and financial processes. Drawing on feedback collected over a series of workshops, they applied a holistic business and technology lens to build a unique solution accounting for industry-leading practices, VFF’s niche processes and its future business strategic goals. After careful consideration, VFF selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (D365 F&O) as the platform to facilitate this transition. D365 F&O naturally gained employee buy-in thanks to its extensive capabilities, its established reputation for reliability and its flexibility to integrate with other valuable technologies and scale its use across various processes.
PwC helped VFF build an agile solution tailored to its needs. The team constructed more than 25 different product configurations to balance speed with the unique and high complexity of VFF’s quoting business. This helped manage distinct use cases — giving customers the ability to customize their orders and see price estimates based on different vendors’ capabilities. The new architecture simplified many systems into one, while custom third-party add-ons helped VFF tackle complex orders, such as several hundred made-to-measure hotel window treatments. Valley Forge Fabrics transformed former complexity into a simplified solution that enhances both the customer and employee experience. A true win-win scenario.
PwC helped streamline VFF’s entire quote-to-cash process, providing end-to-end order visibility across procurement, production, picking, packing and shipping covering more than 1,000 business requirements. VFF automated its manufacturing process, which now uses master resource planning to generate planned production orders, supports the material picking process on shop floors and records operational run times in the system using portable scanners. Additionally for procurement, PwC implemented Voyages functionality to calculate landed costs for international shipments via containers and established a better communication channel between VFF, its suppliers and third-party logistics providers using electronic data interchange. Lastly, the team built accounts payable automation tools to support the invoicing processes and other finance management capabilities within D365.
From ordering to project management to manufacturing and delivery, D365 F&O established a single source of truth to help VFF improve its ways of working. For front office operations, that meant automating the configure price quote (CPQ) process and improving the customer experience with faster, more accurate quotes and orders. For the back office, it meant taking the guesswork and manual tasks out of supply chain and vendor management and financial reporting. By weaving VFF’s operations together, the new platform made it simple to track and manage projects, from customer quote to payment received.
VFF worked with PwC to create the right data structure as part of its digitalization process. It deployed a new data lake infrastructure, enabling full access to data, reports and analytics using real-time information. Its team can now approach the decision-making process with more accuracy and speed across every department — and set the foundation for future AI capabilities aligned with VFF’s strategic goals.
With the platform complete, VFF launched into deployment. The team’s last task was to train and upskill its employees, preparing them to adopt the new ways of working as their standard. PwC defined a change management strategy to support VFF in adopting a transition of this magnitude and ensure that its employees felt included in the process. From concept to roll-out, the users were empowered to share feedback and help build a solution that would make their work easier. PwC supported the change with additional training sessions designed to help employees get the most out of the new platform.
Together, VFF’s team stabilized post-launch operations and developed KPI reports to measure success. Employees felt a greater sense of ownership in the transformation and continued to identify areas of improvement. Additionally, the platform helped open up new channels of communication, and employees saw more opportunity to develop and learn within the company.
By combining operations into D365 F&O, VFF has successfully positioned itself to focus on the future. The platform’s automations help provide a better experience for customers by reducing overall quotation lead times. It streamlines back-office operations, allowing VFF to better collaborate with third-party logistics providers and suppliers. It also provides more inventory visibility through supplier portals and an accurate invoicing control to match prices on invoices to prices on purchase orders. These direct connections to carriers and insights into real-time shipping rates allow VFF to offer its customers some of the best rates in the market.
The new platform gives VFF employees access to real-time inventory, enabling project managers to plan and coordinate day-to-day manufacturing, warehouse and shipping activities more efficiently. The system is also fully mobile-enabled, so employees can automatically generate orders, coordinate with manufacturers, print labels and ship from anywhere, all in a single click. Digitalization helps improve performance on a macro level as well, providing leadership with vital visibility into the financial and operational health of the business to inform key decision-making. With its operational issues ironed out, VFF can now concentrate its time and resources on growing the business and serving its customers.
“We had a vision to transform the way we do business through tech-enabled automation. ‘The Forge’ is built on leading Microsoft technology and integrations that create a unique digital platform tailored to our needs. It’s streamlined our operations and unlocked exponential growth potential for our people and our business. Now, the sky's the limit.”
“In the past, new product categories challenged us operationally, making it difficult to meet client needs. As a result of ‘The Forge’ and our work with PwC, we’re able to grow quickly and positively impact sustainability, quality and service. We’re proud of what we’ve built and ready to leverage machine learning and future AI tech to continue forging forward.”
“Valley Forge Fabrics saw an opportunity to become more agile by combining its operations into a single, integrated system from front to back. With helpful automations and real-time data and analytics, its new platform sets the company up for future growth by enabling them to serve their customers faster and drive efficiencies within their operations.”
Principal, US Microsoft Alliance, PwC US