Jackson’s Bakery has been baking bread to the highest standard for over 100 years. Its bread is renowned for its superior quality, taste and texture, so it is no wonder that it is the UK’s leading supplier of sandwich bread. As the largest food service business in the William Jackson Food Group (WJFG), a sixth-generation family business established in 1851, Jackson’s has maintained its position by a willingness to innovate for success.
Challenges facing Jackson’s
In early 2021, Jackson’s signed an ambitious long-term deal to commence the supply to a significant UK convenience retailer with its own-label sliced bread range. The new deal meant a significant uplift of around 30% in Jacksons’ production and distribution.
However, it became clear that the company’s disparate legacy IT systems would be unable to cope with the new level of business growth. Jackson’s realised that an entire business transformation project was needed to overhaul the company’s core systems and integrations.
Delivering the project
Working in partnership with Columbus, Jackson’s selected a new integrated Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management (D365 FSCM) ERP solution as its technology backbone. D365 FSCM would be key to modernise key processes from order to invoice, including procurement, EDI automation, advanced forecasting, production planning, material consumption and despatch.
The scope of the project was vast. The ERP platform implementation needed to be deployed and go-live in parallel with the introduction of a new distribution and fulfilment centre, an extensive programme of factory refurbishments, whole scale capacity ramp-up and significant new product development and product launches.
Despite COVID and supply chain disruptions, the implementation had to be complete before commencement of Jackson’s new supply contract. This left Columbus and Jackson’s with a non-negotiable deadline – a challenge at any time for a business-wide ERP implementation, let alone for a project that needed to constantly adjust its scope in line with the wider manufacturing and supply chain changes at the time.
Given the pandemic restrictions at the time, both Columbus and Jackson’s adapted their approaches to meet the demands of the project, harnessing a hybrid approach to design, development and deployment, which allowed for a greater amount of parallel customisation and testing. The project went live at the start of March 2021 and was completed on time and on budget.
Gaining new efficiencies with D365
Transitioning over to D365, managing an intense hyper-care period before ramping up manufacture and supply to be launch ready was a significant undertaking. The success and immediate stability of the ERP implementation provided the backbone on which Jackson’s could launch its new business, and it has been continually developing it since then – with system enhancements in partnership with Columbus.
The new efficiencies, business intelligence and continuous improvements from the evergreen platform will also enable Jackson’s to play its part in helping WJFG achieve net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain by 2040.
The transformation project helped Jackson’s secure a multi-year deal that ensures Jackson’s Bakery will be baking bread for their retail customers, and supporting its workforce and local communities, for many years to come.
Working with Columbus
Jackson’s transformation project faced an unprecedented set of circumstances and challenges. For example, the COVID lockdown restrictions meant the Columbus and Jackson’s team set up to deliver the project had limited opportunities to meet and collaborate face-to-face. Everything from analysis workshops and POC sessions, to testing and cutover support, had to be done remotely throughout the intense 2020 and 2021 lockdowns.
Despite this, both the mutual trust and team spirit were all the stronger because of this shared global challenge, enhancing collaboration, passion and customer care.
“The remote sessions generated an increased blurring of lines between customer and support partner, which forged the strong ‘one team’ collaborative working bonds that remain today.”
Jodie Derbyshire, Head of IT Change Programmes at William Jackson Food Group
The transformation project was a true reflection of a strong partnership approach to project planning and execution, blending together decades of Columbus’ technical and consultancy expertise with the in-house intimate business and IT process knowledge of Jackson’s team members.
Following on from the success of this transformation project, WJFG is keen to roll out further projects to its other food service businesses with a long-term continued relationship with Columbus. This includes a joint “analysis” phase to cover all the WJFG businesses in scope, with the plan to then roll out the core ERP sequentially with further potential pilots for commerce and customer engagement capabilities.
A summary of what Jackson's has achieved
Upgrading to D365 FSCM has enabled Jackson’s to:
- Modernise core processes from order to invoice, including procurement, EDI automation, advanced forecasting, production planning, material consumption and despatch
- Create a solid technology backbone (D365 FSCM) on which Jackson’s could launch its new business – with system enhancements in partnership with Columbus
- Gain new efficiencies such as business intelligence and continuous improvements from the evergreen platform
- Play its part in helping WJFG achieve net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain by 2040
- Secure a multi-year deal that ensures Jackson’s Bakery will be baking bread for its retail customers for many years to come