<img src="https://secure.leadforensics.com/133892.png" alt="" style="display:none;">


  • Advantage Smollan is a joint venture between Advantage Solutions and Smollan that caters to the European consumer goods and retail market. However, as the group had been set up through acquisition, they were experiencing various challenges, including disparate systems and processes, high levels of manual work required, productivity losses and inability to rely on the accuracy of their data.
  • By selecting Microsoft Dynamics 365, they could finally: centralise processes and data, enable consistent processes, ensure reliable and accurate data, improve visibility and benefit from an ERP that could grow with the business and its goals.

About Advantage Smollan

  • Advantage Smollan is the result of a strategic international partnership between Advantage Solutions and Global Smollan Holdings.
  • Founded in 2015, it creates and delivers intelligent commerce solutions, enabling our customers to sell and market more effectively.



download the case study

Advantage Smollan

Get your copy sent to your inbox.

Case Study: Advantage Smollan

Company overview

Advantage Smollan is a joint venture between Advantage Solutions and Smollan that caters to the European consumer goods and retail market. Created in 2015, the company aims to combine the power of insight-based sales and marketing solutions with leading retail technology across Europe.


Ultimately, this helps Advantage Smollan provide innovative solutions, designed to support sales and marketing enablement. From in-store execution to point of sale and design/digital services, they aim to deliver a consistent experience for customers, whether it’s in-store or online, and across different markets and channels.


And that means Advantage Smollan’s customers can benefit from tailored sales and marketing solutions, innovative technology, valuable market insights and business growth.

The vision

Advantage Smollan wanted to migrate all its subsidiaries to a common ERP platform to harmonise processes and controls. This will allow the group to achieve further synergies and provide a better service to its internal customers.

The challenges

Disparate systems and processes

As the group has been set up through acquisition, each acquisition/company had its own finance systems, with their own unique processes. According to Kashif Mehmood, Finance Director of Europe at Advantage Smollan, group reporting used to take place via Excel. “So just reporting numbers was very complicated. Everything was decentralised,” he said.

High data requirements that the current solution couldn't fulfill

To replace Excel, Advantage Smollan implemented a group reporting solution that worked well, helped to standardise the reporting process and produced good data. However, the company wanted “to go one level deeper and to do that, we had to focus on the ERP”, according to Mehmood.


“It was still difficult for people to import data into the system because of the legacy finance systems in use,” he said. “And also, if we wanted to ensure compliance and implement internal control while maintaining efficient processes, we needed a strong finance infrastructure and a common platform.”

High levels of manual work

As a result of Advantage Smollan’s complex data requirements and their current solution not being able to keep up, the team were having to perform high levels of manual work.


Data requirements for internal management reporting has increased in volume and complexity significantly in the last couple of years. Mehmood said: “We have moved on from simply asking for a trial balance split by month.


“So, even though the group reporting tool is very good, the legacy ERP solutions in our subsidiaries could not keep up with the requirements.”

Inability to rely on the accuracy of data

Largely down to the high level of manual work involved in converting local ERP data into the group reporting tool, there was no easy-to-follow audit trial and therefore, difficult to comment upon for management reporting.

The solution

Transforming the jigsaw of disparate systems, processes and data into a centralised, streamlined dream is difficult when you’re working across multiple ERPs. Especially if those ERPs have been implemented decades ago or you’re also outsourcing part of your core processes to agencies who use their own platforms.


For the record, this was exactly what Advantage Smollan was struggling with. It was clear that the company needed to replace its legacy systems with a modern ERP that:

  • Centralised processes and data
  • Enabled consistent processes, such as offering a standard way of viewing data and reports
  • Ensured reliable, accurate data
  • Improved visibility
  • Added user access controls which improves security, compliance and reliability
  • Could grow with the business and its goals

Why Microsoft Dynamics 365 was chosen

The search for the right ERP solution started in 2018. Here are some of the main reasons why Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) stood out to the Advantage Smollan team:

  • The approach to flexible pricing and structure
  • The world-class localisation ability within D365 met their complex requirements for each local market
  • The solution would be adaptable and easy to use within the local markets – this is key to successful change management

The benefits

By implementing D365 (via a successful agile approach) supported by Columbus, Advantage Smollan saw the following benefits…

  • Manual tasks are standardised and, in some cases, automated, saving teams significant amounts of time. For example, uploading data from the ERP to the group reporting solution used to take up to two days on average. That time is now reduced by up to 90%, boosting productivity and freeing employees up to work on higher-value tasks
  • The team can now rely on the accuracy of the data as less manual work means a lowered chance of human errors, missing data or inaccuracies. In fact, the quality of data has ‘improved tenfold’
  • Reporting is a much easier task as data, reports and terminology are consistent
  • Business visibility is improved. For example, the finance team can track costs accurately across departments and can see clearly where business can make savings 
  • Improved security, and process efficiency and reliability, thanks to added user access controls
  • D365 is a scalable platform where you can add and remove what you want/need as requirements change. This means the platform can grow with your business and your goals, making it a cost-effective investment

Working with Columbus

Why Columbus was the right partner

Advantage Smollan pride themselves on knowledge and experience as they work hard to build that knowledge and use it to make the right decisions. So, they needed a partner who valued and appreciated, supported and encouraged empowered collaboration.


One key aspect that differentiated Columbus from other partners was that the sales process was different. Columbus offered an educational approach; the salesperson wanted to add value and strived to understand the business rather than just focusing on selling products.


Advantage Smollan was also looking for a partner who would be ‘the right fit’. They wanted their internal teams to work well with the external partner, so it was all about the people and the fit.

What working with Columbus has been like

The company was no stranger to working with consultants - they had worked with several partners before they settled on Columbus. However, their previous experiences haven’t been great and Mehmood admitted he had been “really put off” as a result.


So, it was even more important that the partnership between Columbus and Advantage Smollan was fruitful.

We needed to show Advantage Smollan they had made the right choice by selecting Dynamics 365 and partnering with a consultancy instead of shouldering the implementation project by themselves.

Our partnerships

  • Advantage Smollan wanted mutual respect, open discussions and honesty. They have all three with Columbus
  • Columbus has adopted an agile approach across the programme, delivering the desired results within a tight timescale and budget, without impacting on quality
  • Columbus also offer the right balance between configuration and knowledge sharing
  • The project involves many moving parts and has required different skillsets. But, Columbus understood this need and has always been able to match a consultant’s skills with the project requirements
  • Something that can happen when you’re working with consultancies is that you might not be interacting with the same people throughout the project. For example, your consultant might change multiple times throughout. This wasn’t the case with Columbus – we made sure the people Advantage Smollan saw at the beginning stayed throughout the project. This ensured their values and behaviours are consistent which is important to Advantage Smollan
  • The consultants went above and beyond to ensure success

Going above and beyond: A Columbus specialty

At Columbus, we always strive to put our customers’ needs and happiness first. And this is what we did for Advantage Smollan.


Advantage Smollan were in the midst of a launch and there were a few challenges around the Microsoft functionality. Because of the launch, their team were already under pressure, however, one of the Columbus consultants took calls with Microsoft and answered emails, out of hours until the issue was resolved.


Mehmood said: It was really appreciated because we were seriously under pressure. Everybody is working really hard and you matched the tempo, helping us all to work in harmony.


“We wanted to work with a partner who we could build mutual respect and have an honest, open conversation with. We got that with Columbus.”


To find out more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations, the solution that helped Advantage Smollan improve their efficiency, download the factsheet below. You can learn about the solution’s features and how they can help your business.

right-arrow share search phone phone-filled menu filter envelope envelope-filled close checkmark caret-down arrow-up arrow-right arrow-left arrow-down right-arrow share search phone phone-filled menu filter envelope envelope-filled close checkmark caret-down arrow-up arrow-right arrow-left arrow-down