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  • Customer Stories
  • Advanced Turf Solutions Saves Tens of Thousands of Dollars with SmartConnect
Customer Story

Advanced Turf Solutions Saves Tens of Thousands of Dollars with SmartConnect

Not only did SmartConnect save them a significant amount of money, but it has also reduced the time it takes to report information from months to weeks and weeks to days.

Advanced Turf Solutions’ Background

Established in 2001, Advanced Turf Solutions (ATS) is a green industry distributor that provides fertilizer, pesticides, grass seed, ice melt, and more to professionals in the golf, lawn care, and sports turf markets. They serve 24 locations throughout the Midwest and beyond, including customers in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

As an employee-owned company, ATS is proud to claim that its experienced sales team is primarily comprised of previous golf course superintendents, sports field managers, or lawn care operators.

“If you’re a company that grows real grass, you’re probably our customer,” said Tracie Pruden, the chief information officer at ATS. “We now also serve homeowners if they come into one of our 24 walk-in locations. It’s not totally national yet, although we do have a small number of products that were distributed nationally through a commerce channel, which is new for us this year.”

Pruden took over the technology department upon her arrival nearly 7 years ago and has taken a hands-on approach with ATS’ web application and multiple systems. She also taught herself how to use SmartConnect to fill in information gaps and remedy accessibility issues.

Problems & Challenges

After taking over the small, six-member technology department at ATS, Pruden quickly saw certain issues their team was up against.

“We kind of always found ourselves wearing different hats,” Pruden said.

As a previous developer before stepping into her role as CIO, Pruden wrote the web application ATS was using and made it her mission to discover the best sales and inventory systems for the company. Unfortunately, their 120 sales reps still had no way of accessing the information on their ERP.

“When I came to ATS, my biggest challenge almost from day one was giving the salespeople the information they needed. They didn’t have access to our ERP system that all of our corporate employees and our operations employees had,” Pruden said. “That was when I really just got in the weeds and learned how to use SmartConnect on my own.”

Solutions Provided with SmartConnect Implementation

SmartConnect and other eOne products were tools ATS already had in their arsenal before Pruden came aboard. Unfortunately, SmartConnect hadn’t been utilized, besides a few small tasks done by their integration partner.

“I just started working with integrating the ERP to our web application that has since evolved to Salesforce,” Pruden said. “Now everything that our sales team does is in Salesforce, but we’re still constantly integrating tons of information using SmartConnect in practical, real-time.”

As Pruden taught herself how to harness the power of SmartConnect, she enjoyed its user-friendly interface and its powerful capabilities.

“It’s intuitive, so once I figured out the maps and how they worked, I basically taught myself the GP model because I’d also never worked with GP,” Pruden said. “I was figuring out the GP data, but I was already really comfortable with the data on the other side. I knew exactly what it looked like because I had developed the application from scratch and then added Salesforce, so I just know that model really well.”

Pruden was learning multiple platforms at once to solve accessibility issues, streamline information processes, and incorporate multiple systems. She was learning the data model and ERP as she was learning how to use it all with SmartConnect.

“I’ve honestly been so fortunate that SmartConnect was something that was already there for me and I didn’t have to go searching for a partner to help us with the integration,” Pruden said. “Now we have started selling grass seed nationally. Those orders are coming in from a commerce site and then getting sent right over to our ERP, which is something we were able to do internally with SmartConnect. That was pretty cool.”

The Perks of SmartConnect

After using SmartConnect for six years, Pruden and ATS have gone through a few iterations of the product as they’ve incorporated its use into their regular work.

Last year, ATS moved over to the latest version of SmartConnect to maximize integration capabilities with systems besides Salesforce.

“We have a new HR platform and a new inventory system. Using the latest version of SmartConnect has allowed us to do things like secure FTP integration and things that were required on the side of the other applications,” Pruden said. “We were also thankful we didn’t have to buy anything else to be able to integrate with those applications.”

While Salesforce has pushed other integration platform products to Pruden and her team, such as MuleSoft, she has no desire to shop around for other tools.

“It’s natural for a salesperson to tell us about MuleSoft because that’s a really well-known tool, Pruden said. “We’ve also had one of our other partners with Microsoft mention other tools, but I haven’t really dove in because I don’t have a reason to switch.”

The Power of Popdock

ATS is also at the beginning stages of incorporating Popdock into their daily work. They want to use it in multiple ways, one of which is giving access to particular, quick information to team members that don’t have any other reason to be in GP.

“But the bigger thing is that when we do upgrade our ERP, we love the idea that we don’t have to bring over all of our historical data,” Pruden said. “We may bring over one or two years, but we still can access that old data with Popdock.”

Life After Dynamics GP

As companies continue moving from GP to other ERPs, many teams are deliberating their possible migration strategies. When ATS is ready, they can make this move by using SmartConnect and Popdock which enables companies to migrate without hiring extra help and in a much faster, simpler manner.

“It feels like an advantage to me that we are able to do this internally. When we have things that come up, like new requests, whether it’s a brand-new integration point or just adding to something, we’re able to react really quickly,” Pruden said. “An important part of my decision-making is that we’ve developed all these maps, and we have all these integration points that are well documented and that work well.”

While ATS hasn’t taken the leap from GP to its next system yet, they’re planning on looking at options in the following year.

SmartConnect is Saving ATS Time & Money

As ATS incorporates more systems, including the planning software for inventory, SmartConnect has been able to meet specific requirements.

“Recently, the thing that stands out the most is the inventory planning software we just got,” Pruden said. “It’s a pretty robust system and one that’s used globally. Their specifications for what we needed to provide them on a daily basis are in a very specific format.”

At first, Pruden thought they may need to hire someone to help them out with this process of specification requirements. But after playing around in SmartConnect 2021, she “took a swing at it and exported what multiple daily files would need to look like for that system, and it worked. That was a huge surprise. Something we thought was going to be a big part of the implementation plan was how we were going to send them over our purchase orders, our sales orders, and inventory levels every single day in a reliable manner. The fact that SmartConnect can do that is pretty awesome.”

SmartConnect has not only provided reliable ways to work with other systems, but it also has saved ATS thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours.

“I never feel like I can do anything under $20,000 if I’m bringing in a partner and having to have at least a six-week engagement, so SmartConnect has definitely saved us tens of thousands of dollars,” Pruden said. “And because we’re comfortable with the way that the tables are formatted already, it takes no time at all. It literally takes days instead of weeks.”

When we have things that come up, like new requests, whether it’s a brand-new integration point or just adding to something, we’re able to react really quickly.

Tracie Pruden, Chief Information Officer at Advanced Turf Solutions