“STAND STILL, YOU’LL END UP AT THE BOTTOM. THAT’S WHY A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR MIS PROVIDER IS ESSENTIAL”
OPM Group is a label and flexible packaging manufacturer that has been a partner of Tharstern since 2001. OPM Group is a rather unique company in the converting sector, being one of only a few independently run family businesses of such a large size. The company believes that by investing in the right technology and people, and then making sure these two things work well together, it can deliver the personal touch that customers value.
Over twenty years ago, when OPM first approached Tharstern, it was using SuperCalc for its estimating and had recently introduced computerized accounts. However, it had no stock system, no data collection, and no way to connect everything together.
OPM’s Joint Managing Director, Chris Ellison, had a vision to significantly improve the company’s efficiency by setting up one of the three production facilities as the administrative center controlling the whole group. Chris knew that he would need to use technology to achieve this vision, by digitizing the remaining areas of his business and connecting them all together.
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THARSTERN
The implementation project presented the OPM team with something of a learning curve - “When we first put in the new system, we underestimated the commitment required to really get the most out of a comprehensive MIS solution. We tried to train on the job, which in hindsight was wrong, and when we turned scheduling on, we were frightened to death of it and turned it back off again! We initially went for the quick wins, like linking the accounts system to allow us to analyze job costings, but we didn’t dedicate time to utilizing all the features.”
A few years later, when OPM embarked on a major upgrade to its IT systems, including the hardware, network and MIS, the company adopted a different approach. Joint Managing Director, Susan Ellison took charge of the project, creating a training room with a dedicated server so the staff could run demo programmes using their own data to test out how it worked and understand the benefits. To enable the business to carry on running as normal, Susan created training groups which consisted of one or two people from each department enabling the knowledge to be disseminated across the business.
"We definitely learned from our earlier experience and completely amended our approach the second time. We also learned a lot about communication and how important it is to keep a constant line of dialogue open with your MIS supplier,” said Susan.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR OPM AND THARSTERN
OPM is constantly pushing boundaries and experimenting with the latest technology. Its latest investments include a new digital press and digital finishing equipment, both of which the company plans to integrate into its MIS-driven workflow to reap the competitive advantages that will bring.
“Technology is such an important part of business these days and it’s constantly changing, so you have to put the effort in and evolve with it,” says Charlotte Ellison, Commercial Director at OPM. “It’s like being on an escalator going backwards - if you stand still, you’ll soon end up at the bottom. That’s why it’s essential to develop a good relationship with your MIS provider - you need to have a vision, and you also need to put in place the technological support to achieve that vision.”
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that OPM has further technology projects on the go already, including its recent transition to Tharstern’s intelligent estimating tool Estimate PRO, and future plans to introduce a web-to-print system for its smaller customers.
“Our business will keep changing and evolving all the time; it has to.” said Chris Ellison. “And when we identify a new opportunity to develop, we know we can rely on Tharstern to help us take advantage of it. Tharstern has helped OPM streamline and automate production and business workﬂows for the last twenty years. Together we have both grown in size and industry knowledge, with each of us assisting the other and helping each other to grow. We truly appreciate that support and relationship.”
CHOOSING THARSTERN AS THEIR PARTNER
After a period of assessment, OPM decided to partner with Tharstern as it believed they had the best Management Information System (MIS) solution and a team of people to help them achieve their goals.
“To have that relationship where we can just call them for a chat, or ask for a visit, without feeling like a nuisance or waiting for a big bill, well that’s just as valuable to us as the software”