​Godfreys cleans up its IT infrastructure and moves ERP to the cloud

The iconic vacuum cleaner retailer has moved its ERP system to the cloud with Pronto.

Godfrey Cohen founded the Godfrey group in 1931 during a time when vacuum cleaners were only sold door-to-door. The young entrepreneur invested in 30 second-hand vacuum cleaners and convinced his father to provide him with some window space in the family's furniture shop.

By chance, a young Hoover employee saw the vacuum cleaners in the window, and agreed to sell trade-in models to Godfrey, which not long after resulted in Godfrey opening his own store in the Prahran Market in Melbourne, where he then partnered with John Johnston to turn the small business into the brand it is known as today.

From an original investment of AU$50, the Godfrey's Group has grown to 222 stores across Australia and New Zealand, with over 500 staff, making it the largest vacuum cleaner retailer in the world.

With traditional bricks and mortar businesses like Godfreys often comes a resistance to change, but Godfreys realised recently that an inability to adapt to new business models would result in the company potentially being forgotten.

Godfreys undertook a review of its internal systems, led by company IT manager Mark Norman. As a result of the review, Norman decided to clean up and overhaul the company's legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Godfreys was in the market for a future-proof business management platform that would have the flexibility to add customised functionality and was scalable enough to manage the company's expected growth.

The company's existing ERP was outdated and unsupported, Norman explained, and the ability to implement change was slow and sometimes not possible, which he said imposed restrictions on the business.

"Enhancements were done by developing add-on functions outside of the core ERP which then lead to a variety of applications used to perform a single business function," Norman told ZDNet.

Norman then headed to tender to find a vendor that would provide cloud-based, fully managed service on a 24/7 basis; provide an end-to-end, easy to use platform that manages all facets of the organisation from financials, warehouse, and inventory to sales; deliver business intelligence functionality; and offer fast and seamless integration with third-party businesses.

In addition, the platform also needed to be accessible to all staff members from any device, including desktops, tablets, and mobile phones, at any time.

Godfreys turned to Victoria-based ERP software vendor Pronto.

"We chose to partner with Pronto Software as they ticked all the boxes, demonstrating the ability to manage the whole product life cycle at Godfreys, as well as extract critical business information," Norman explained.

"As a sales business, it is important we have the right product in store to meet our sales teams and customer demands."

To Norman, transparency over the company's supply chain is also critical to its overall operation.

"Mark basically said to us: 'We understand that companies that don't do this stuff will be dead in five years, three years, 10 years' time so it's very important that we're not standing still as an organisation'," Pronto managing director Chad Gates added.

Godfreys has now moved from an in-house managed ERP system to a fully outsourced, cloud-based solution, and as a result has experienced a reduction in storage requirements, a reduction in server requirements, and a reduction in support and management, Norman said.

"This frees up our IT resource to focus on enhancing solutions to the business instead of maintaining outdated applications," he explained.

"[It allows us to] take advantage of more up-to-date information, functionality, and the ability to integrate all aspects of our business onto a single platform."

The web-based user interface also allows Godfreys' staff to review product information, customer queries, and sales updates from any device.

"With any change in the core business applications, one of the greatest challenges and opportunities is to ensure the new system starts with clean data," Norman said. "The previous ERP system had over 10 years of data that needed to be cleansed and loaded into Pronto. Once completed, we have seen a reduction in time and effort in checking and validating data."

Godfreys joins the likes of Nike, Petstock, Inspirations Paint, Gasweld, and The Co-op in using Pronto Xi.