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					                                            Microsoft Dynamics
                                            Customer Solution Case Study




                                            Tactical Gear Maker Meets Growth Demands
                                            with Business Management Solution




Overview                                    “We want to allocate our resources to our products,
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Co nsumer Products, Retail,
                                            not IT. Because it is flexible, scalable, and easy to
Manufacturing                               administer, Microsoft Dynamics AX allows us to focus
Customer Profile
                                            resources on our core competencies.”
BlackHawk manufactures high-end military,   Scott Ferros, CFO, BlackHawk Products Group
law enforcement, corporate security, and
outdoor gear. Headquartered in Norfolk,     BlackHawk is a manufacturer and distributor of over 2,500 high-
Virginia, BlackHawk has 250 U.S.-based
employees and operations worldwide.         end military, law enforcement, and outdoor gear products. Rapid
                                            growth and global expansion, including several acquisitions, left
Business Situation
BlackHawk needed a more robust,             BlackHawk with distributed operations and a mix of disparate
integrated business ma nagement solution    business systems. BlackHawk needed an integrated solution that
that would sup port the company’s rapid
growth and increasingly distributed         was robust enough to meet growing business demands and
operations.                                 considered several software packages, including those from SAP
Solutio n                                   and Oracle. BlackHawk chose Microsoft Dynamics™ AX for its
With Microsoft® Gold Cer tified Partner     flexibility, scalability, low total cost of ownership, and because it
Vis.align, BlackHawk replaced four
disparate business systems with Microsoft   worked with the company’s existing IT investments. After
Dynamics™ AX, which works with the          implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX with help from Microsoft ®
company’s existing Microsoft investments.
                                            Gold Certified Partner Vis.align, BlackHawk enjoys greater visibility
Benefits                                    into sales and supply chain data, closes its monthly financial
 Provides greater insight
 Streamlines processes                     reports more easily, and spends less time and money on IT.
 Easy to modify and administer
 Empowers people with easy-to-use tools
                                            Situation                                         because accounting staff spe nt more time
                                            BlackHawk Products Group, headquartered in        reconciling inconsistencies in data.
                                            Norfolk, Virginia, was started in 1993 by
                                            former Navy SEAL and Gulf War veteran Mike        Custo mer service suffered as well because of
                                            Noell. During the Gulf War, an equipment          the disparate systems. “When our customer
                                            failure nearly cost Noell his life, and that      service agents were on the phone booking
                                            experience inspired him to produce the finest     orders, they didn’t have visibility into
                                            tactical gear in the world.                       production to give customers an accurate
                                                                                              delivery estimate,” says Ferros.
                                            From its relatively humble beginnings in
                                            Noell’s garage, BlackHawk has evolved into a      BlackHawk’s executive management also
                                            fast- growing company that develops and sells     could not easily discern the purchasing
                                            tactical gear such a s packs, knives, and         patterns of customer se gments in the
                                            holsters to the U.S. military, law enforcement,   different channels. “Because we sell directly
                                            and recreational hunters worldwide. The           to government a gencies, through dealers,
                                            company employs 250 people in the United          and to the public on the Web, channel
                                            State s, maintains manufa cturing centers in      support and manage ment are very important
                                            North Carolina and Idaho, and operates a          to us. We needed a solution that tied to gether
“It was clear to us that                    research and development facility in              data from all our operations and offered

Microsoft Dynamics AX                       Montana. BlackHawk also sources products
                                            from Asia and Western Europe. The company
                                                                                              tightly integrated reporting tools,” says
                                                                                              Ferros. “Our Macola system was linked to
would continue to scale                     sells through an extensive dealer and             Crystal Reports, but we had to do a lot of

to meet our needs five                      distributor network, through contracts with
                                            governmental agencies, and directly to the
                                                                                              development to get the reports to meet our
                                                                                              needs. Even then, our reports were limited in
or 10 years down the                        public through its Web site.                      the ability to drill down and explore data.”

road.”                                      BlackHawk acquired several gear                   BlackHawk maintains a group of four IT sta ff
Mike Noell, CEO, BlackHawk Products Group   manufacturers and a research operation over       at its headquarters and relies on local
                                            the past several years, and inherited four        partners to manage infrastructure at its
                                            disparate enterprise resource planning (ERP)      remote locations. Having to maintain four
                                            systems. BlackHawk’s core business syste m,       disparate platforms stressed BlackHawk’s IT
                                            Macola Progression from Exact Software,           operations. In addition, Macola Progression
                                            accommodated the new growth with difficulty.      was reaching its limits in terms of scalability.
                                            “We had increasingly disconnected                 “As our Web business gre w, so did our call
                                            operations and no integrated solution to          support and data entry. This increased
                                            handle intercompany transactions, shared          activity resulted in some slowdowns in the
                                            processes, and shared inventory,” says Scott      Macola system,” says Ferros.
                                            Ferros, CFO of BlackHawk.
                                                                                              Solution
                                            With different parts of the business running      Clearly, BlackHawk needed to migrate to a
                                            on different systems, BlackHawk struggled to      more robust business manage ment solution —
                                            keep track of inventory and manufacturing         one that would accommodate its distributed
                                            costs, especially when multiple facilities were   operations and increasingly global supply
                                            involved in producing a product or shared         chain, and provide greater visibility into
                                            items. These shared processes required            business data. BlackHawk worked with
                                            intercompany transactions that complicated        Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Vis.align to
                                            the close of monthly financial reports            conduct a thorough analysis of its operations
and compare a number of business                  The General Ledger for Microsoft Dynamics
management products.                              AX pulls in transactional data from
                                                  throughout the operation in real time, and
“SAP had a lot of the functionality we were       allows inventory analysts to manipulate their
looking for, but was expensive, inflexible, and   view of the data to easily determine real
would require significant IT resources to         costs. BlackHawk’s production planner uses
support. Similarly, Oracle cost too much and      Microsoft Dynamics AX to track inventory and
meant we would have to move off our               help inform buyers of trends. “One of the new
Microsoft SQL Server™ database. And we            functions in Microsoft Dynamics AX tha t we’re
decided not to go with Sage’s ER P products       taking advanta ge of is the transfer order
because we had some concerns about the            process. This allows us to place material
future of tho se products in the long term,”      purchases from Asia into a virtual warehouse
says Ferros.                                      while the product is in transit. Now, we can
                                                  get unit-level visibility into our inventory long
BlackHawk settled on Microsoft Dynamics™          before the items physically arrive in our
AX, along with an overall Microsoft platform      warehouse,” says Ferros.
solution that includes Windows Server ® 2003
R2, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003,               For reporting, BlackHawk uses many of the
Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft              standard reports packaged with Microsoft
BizTalk ® Server 2006, Microsoft Commerce         Dynamics AX, which provide extensive drill-
Server 2002, and Microsoft Office                 down capabilities and the ability to change
SharePoint® Portal Server 2003. “It was clear     core reporting requirements as needed. For
to us tha t Microsoft Dynamics AX would           more powerful data analysis, BlackHawk
continue to scale to meet our needs five or       implemented TARGIT Business Intelligence
10 years down the road. The combination of        Accelerator from Microsoft Gold Certified
scalability, the ability to streamline            Partner TARGIT A/S.
processes, and a familiar interface people
already know made Microsoft the clear             Microsoft Dynamics AX supports BlackHawk’s
choice,” says Mike Noell, CEO of BlackHawk.       distributed operations by integrating with
                                                  Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server
Vis.align assisted BlackHawk with training        2003. For example, BlackHawk’s sales
and implementation of the project, general        representatives use the SharePoint site for
ledger, customer relationship management,         reporting. BlackHawk is also using an e-
and manufacturing functionality in Microsoft      business add-on for Microsoft Dynamics AX
Dynamics AX. Vis.align and BlackHawk              from Microsoft Certified Partner MBS Dev,
started with configura tion of the new system     which supports electronic data interchange
and then moved to mapping data from               (EDI) transa ctions and allows dealers to
Macola into Microsoft Dynamics AX. All the        check inventory, place orders, and view their
documenta tion and training was completed         account status.
before the company launched the solution.
“I’ve done several system conversions in my       Benefits
career and was happy with the support from        Microsoft Dynamics AX helps BlackHawk
Microsoft and Vis.align getting us up and         continue to expand its business in sales
running. It helped that our employees easily      volume and geography. Microsoft Dynamics
understood the benefits of moving to the new      AX gives BlackHawk employees the insight
system,” says Ferros.                             they need to confidently make decisions and
                                                  increase back-office efficiency. At the same
“Microsoft Dynamics AX                        time, the new business ma nagement solution      Streamlines Process es
                                              is familiar to BlackHawk employees, fits with    Microsoft Dynamics AX facilitates greater
allows us to automate                         the company’s existing investments, and will     automation for BlackHawk, so the company
these processes                               scale to meet future demands.                    spends less time and money processing
                                                                                               orders, sending invoices, and coordinating
entirely, and redeploy                        “Microsoft Dyna mics AX provides a solid base    shipping. For example, BlackHawk uses
our resources so that                         for our company’s growing operations. From       support for EDI in Microsoft Dynamics AX to
                                              an IT standpoint, distributed operations are     automate communications with United Parcel
we’re out there                               no longer a significant challenge for us—        Service, including invoicing and shipping
generating more                               thanks to Microsoft Dynamics AX and the          confirmation.
                                              complementary Microsoft products we’ve
business instead of                           deployed,” says Ferros.                          Another area where BlackHawk reaps
dealing with paperwork.”                                                                       increased efficiencies is in order entry and
                                              Provides Greater Ins ight                        invoicing. “With our Macola system, every
Scott Ferros, CFO, BlackHawk Products Group   Now tha t all of BlackHawk’s operations share    order or customer invoice generated online
                                              a common business mana gement solution,          needed a human to complete the process.
                                              the company has a much deeper and                Microsoft Dynamics AX allows us to automate
                                              accurate view into details of the business.      these processes entirely, and redeploy our
                                              Microsoft Dynamics AX is structured so tha t     resources so that we’re out there generating
                                              employees can easily drill down to more          more business instead of dealing with
                                              detailed information regarding any               paperwork,” says Ferros.
                                              transaction, equipping people with the insight
                                              they need to confidently make decisions.         More automation and shared data between
                                                                                               operations also positively impacts
                                              For example, the transfer order process in       BlackHawk’s financial management. Instead
                                              Microsoft Dynamics AX tha t puts in-transit      of an average 20 days needed to close
                                              items into a virtual warehouse lets              monthly financials, BlackHawk’s accounting
                                              BlackHawk sales representatives and              group can close the books in just five days
                                              resellers confidently tell customers when new    with Microsoft Dyna mics AX.
                                              inventory will be available.
                                                                                               Easy to Mo dify and Administer
                                              BlackHawk also makes use of the dimensions       Microsoft Dynamics AX fea tures a three-tier
                                              feature in the General Ledger for Microsoft      architecture and MorphX ® development
                                              Dynamics AX to gain insight into its sales       environment that makes it easy for
                                              channels and buying patterns of specific         BlackHawk’s IT group to add users and make
                                              customer types. Mana gers can easily build       basic customizations. BlackHawk also took
                                              targeted reports by pulling data from several    advantage of add-on solutions for Microsoft
                                              dimensions. This capability was not possible     Certified Partners to extend the solution and
                                              before implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX.       meet specific business requirements, such as
                                              “Microsoft Dyna mics AX provides the             adding data analysis or e-commerce
                                              common founda tion for our different sales       capabilities. In addition, Microsoft Dynamics
                                              channels. We can build on top of that with       AX integrates with the other Microsoft
                                              data analysis and correlate customer buying      products and te chnologies that BlackHa wk
                                              patterns wi th our brands,” says Ferros.         already depends on to run its business.

                                                                                               “We want to allocate our resources to our
                                                                                               products, not IT. Because it is flexible,
For More Information                                             scalable, and easy to administer, Microsoft          Microsoft Dynamics
For more information about Microsoft                             Dynamics AX allows us to focus resources on          Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated,
products and services, call the Microsoft                        our core competencies,” says Ferros. “We             adaptable business mana gement solutions
Sales Information Center at (800) 426-                           wanted to avoid heavy customization with our         that enables you and your people to make
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft                              new solution, and Microsoft Dynamics AX me t         business decisions with greater confidence.
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-                          that need with a flexible, modular structure         Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar
2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-                         and a number of ready-to-go add-ons, such as         Microsoft software such a s Microsoft Office,
hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone                       the TARGI T and MBS Dev solutions. ”                 which means less of a learning curve for your
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892- 5234 in                                                                              people, so they can get up and running
the United Sta tes or (905) 568-9641 in                          Empowers People with Easy-to-Us e Tools              quickly and focus on what’s most important.
Canada. Outside the 50 United Sta tes and                        Because Microsoft Dynamics AX looks and              And because it is from Microsoft, it easily
Canada, please contact your local                                feels like familiar Microsoft Office software,       works with the systems tha t your company
Microsoft subsidiary. To access information                      BlackHawk had no trouble getting buy-in from         already has implemented. By automating and
using the World Wide Web, go to:                                 users on the new solution. “Our group was            streamlining financial, customer relationship,
www.microsoft.com                                                primed for change, and with the ne w                 and supply chain processes, Microsoft
                                                                 interface in Microsoft Dynamics AX tha t             Dynamics brings to gether people, processes,
For more information about BlackHawk                             resembles Microsoft Office Outlook ®, people         and technologies, increasing the productivity
Products Group products and services, call                       were immediately comfortable with                    and effectiveness of your business, and
(757) 436- 3101 or visit the Web site at:                        navigating the system. Also, tight integration       helping you drive business success.
www.blackhawk.com                                                with Microsoft Office Word and Microsoft
                                                                 Office Excel ® gives Microsoft Dynamics AX an        For more information about Microsoft
For more information about Vis.align                             edge over other solutions. Our users can             Dynamics, go to:
products and services, call (484) 636-                           seamlessly transition between Microsoft              www.microsoft.com/dynamics
3000 or visit the Web site at:                                   Dynamics AX and other Microsoft productivity
www.visalign.com                                                 applications,” says Ferros.




                                                                  Software and Services                              Microsoft Office System
                                                                   Microsoft Dynamics                                − Microsoft Office Excel 2003
                                                                    − Microsoft Dynamics AX                           − Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
                                                                   Microsoft Servers                                 − Microsoft Office Word 2003
                                                                    − Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006
                                                                    − Microsoft Commerce Server 2002
                                                                    − Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 R2           Partners
                                                                    − Microsoft SQL Server 2005                      Vis.align
                                                                    − Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal
                                                                      Server 2003
                                                                    − Windows Server 2003




This case study is fo r informational purposes only. MICROSOFT
MAKES NO WAR RANTIES, EXPRES S OR IMP LIED, IN THIS
SUMMARY.

Document published June 2007

				
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