The Firstkind Medical Story
Firstkind operates in the medical and sports industry sectors. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sky Medical Technology, a privately held UK company based in High Wycombe and Daresbury. Firstkind manufactures medical devices utilising OnPulse™, Sky Medical’s proprietary neuromuscular electro-stimulation technology, designed to enhance the body’s own system to increase lower limb blood circulation which can help in a range of conditions.
An all-round British success story, the firefly™ device has been developed, manufactured and brought to market by Firstkind, following a three year programme of applied research with St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and Queen Mary, University of London and various published clinical studies.
Mark Whalley joined Firstkind in early 2013 tasked with supporting the launch of the firefly device into the sports recovery market with the provision of order to cash logistics. The timescales were challenging, with the launch planned for 1 July that year, so he needed to hit the ground running. Having had previous experience using Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Mark reviewed the market as part of their due diligence and the company selected Dynamics NAV. With the selection complete at the end of March, the plan was to go live with Finance in May, Stock in June and ready with the whole joined up system for the launch in July.
Firstkind needed a solution that would enable the business to grow rapidly, adding new trading companies as it expanded into new sectors and new geographic territories. An added complication was that Firstkind operates in the highly regulated medical sector and needed to maintain visibility of stock across the supply and fulfilment lifecycle until it reached its furthest point, i.e. the hospital or consumer.
Firstkind and parent company Sky Medical Technology uses Dynamics NAV as its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution to run the entire business. The set up of Dynamics NAV will enable Sky Medical Technology to add new trading companies quickly and easily.
All financial transactions are completed using Dynamics NAV. In addition, The NAV | 365 People (TNP) have helped Firstkind to set up consolidated accounts for the two companies.
All purchases, whether orders placed with manufacturers, incidental expenses within the business or credit card payments, are covered by a Dynamics NAV purchase order. Having everything in one place, with pre-approval means the accounts department can see exactly what commitments the company has, and makes the reconciliation process much quicker.
"A solution that would enable the business to grow rapidly"
All stock is managed within Dynamics NAV. Firstkind outsources manufacturing to trusted partners. As each partner makes components, they are added to the Dynamics NAV system, so they become visible to Mark and his team. Mark can see at a glance what inventory they have, in what location. The system also covers stock held by its fulfilment partner, and stock held by their field based sales people, which is typically stored in their car boots and garages.
The system gives Mark and his team full traceability, which is critical in the medical industry. All devices are lot controlled, and most have an expiry of two years, a key factor that needs to be tracked and managed.
Route to Market – Managing Sales
Firstkind currently supplies the medical and sports recovery markets. Each market has their own unique sales process.
The sports recovery market has a strong business to consumer element. Most orders are placed via www.fireflyrecovery.com. The website is built using Magento. As well as managing the orders and taking payments for each transaction, Magento has a link to Dynamics NAV utilising the NAV Connect solution. NAV Connect translates and populates the central Dynamics NAV system with the customer and transaction details. The system includes intelligence so if a customer order contains a pre-configured bundle of goods, for example, multiple devices with a knee strap, the system knows to unbundle the order to show the individual items. This back-office automation between Magento and Dynamics NAV saves huge amounts of time, and ensures that there are no re-keying errors, so accurate stock levels are maintained.
Once the orders are taken, Dynamics NAV knows which supplier to use and sends details of the orders accordingly.
Orders are placed with the Firstkind customer service team. Agents working on the customer service desk have access to the Firstkind systems including Dynamics NAV, Magento and CRM. This enables them to place orders directly into the system, and should there be any queries they can instantly see order history, and any other relevant details held within the CRM system.
As well as the customer service team, Firstkind has a team of sales people that meet customers, carry out demonstrations and provide samples. They are able to take orders, and if they have sufficient stock, they can fulfil the order there and then, details are entered on the system and invoices are issued accordingly.
In addition, Firstkind has several export customers and distribution partners based overseas. Typically they order large quantities which are handled by head office. These orders are sent directly to a manufacturing partner, who fulfils them directly while invoicing Firstkind.
"In TNP we have experience and depth of knowledge"
Dynamics NAV and CRM aligned – The Holy Grail
Firstkind have deployed Dynamics NAV and CRM as an integrated, real time solution. The integration ensures that differences in the master customer records are identified, it then updates or synchronises the records accordingly. As Mark puts it; ‘For anything soft and relationship based CRM is the master record, for anything hard and financial it’s Dynamics NAV.’
This alignment means that sales people can check a customer record in CRM and see an up-to-date picture of all orders placed – in real time.
A sales person is able to generate a quote, which in turn triggers a new customer record in CRM. Alerts are sent so that financials are checked and a credit limit set up within Dynamics NAV. The customer record is then ready to receive a sales order. All this happens in real time.
All business intelligence at Firstkind is generated by Jet Reports from Jet Global, an Excel based reporting tool for Dynamics NAV. Jet deals with everything from dimensional analysis of sales to automated stock reports that are run weekly. The refresh button is particularly useful, as managers can look at a previous report and have the figures instantly updated with real time data. This access to real time information enables informed business decisions at Firstkind.
"They have a stable, low staff turnover, which means I can speak to the same people each time I call"
Firstkind has seen many business benefits in terms of running the business more efficiently. The benefits have been achieved in two main areas:
Firstly, Dynamics NAV has enabled the company to meet compliance requirements giving them traceability of lots and visibility of expiry dates. Additionally, as Dynamics NAV is an off-the-shelf product, audit processes are significantly streamlined because Firstkind doesn’t have to prove to the auditors that the system works; it is a given.
Secondly, Dynamics NAV provides a platform from which the company can scale up quickly, avoiding the growing pains that are often associated with expansion. The structure is already in place to add new trading companies to the business to sell into new vertical markets with new products, or to work in new geographic regions.
‘We are poised for major growth, the systems are all set, and in TNP we have experience and depth of knowledge of the way our business runs to support us. They have a stable, low staff turnover, which means I can speak to the same people each time I call, and they understand our business architecture. This is a key consideration for us, as we need strong partners to achieve our planned growth.’
Looking to the future
There are several developments in the pipeline at Firstkind. With the use of Spindle, a Dynamics NAV add-on, they plan to automate document production and delivery. So for example when a PO is raised, a PDF is generated which is automatically emailed to the correct contact and a copy saved in the client file. This will be invaluable as the business expands.
Another development is to further streamline some of the workflows during fulfilment so that customers will receive an email to confirm orders placed, and provide them with the relevant tracking information.
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