STF Group moves its business processes and project management to the cloud with SAP Business ByDesign
What’s it going to be: a sophisticated project management system or a completely new ERP solution?
This was the decision facing the STF Group, an engineering services provider based in Dülmen, Westphalia, with nine locations throughout Germany. The company had grown strongly. The existing systems were “bursting at the seams”, prone to errors and lacking transparency. STF finally decided on a complete ERP system, and from the cloud: Since April 2015, the cloud ERP system SAP Business ByDesign has ensured transparency throughout the group of companies and accelerated processes. The SAP consulting company all4cloud is responsible for implementation, further development and maintenance.
Founded in 1997, the STF group offers engineering services in the fields of telecommunications, IT, technical building equipment, energy and resource efficiency, and recruiting. Customers include industrial companies, telecommunications companies, energy companies and utilities. The STF Group comprises the three companies STF Tele Consult, STF Energy and STF Placement and is present at nine locations throughout Germany.
Strong growth necessitated new software
Since 2008, the STF Group has grown very strongly from 20 to 140 employees, so that the previous systems could no longer be maintained. The software for financial accounting was overloaded, Excel and Word for project management and controlling were complex, error-prone and not integrated enough. Information deficits were the result.
The knowledge was mainly in the heads,
reports Gerrit Essmann, project manager and head of IT consulting at STF.
There was no system support for project management and the purchasing processes were not integrated.
These were the requirements of the STF Group in terms of content: new software for financial accounting, controlling, project management and CRM, better tools for sales and project management, reliable data sources for controlling, less effort for administration. Initially, it was not clear whether the system should be an integrated overall system or individual systems with interfaces. Another question to be clarified was the extent to which very special functions would be required for project management or whether these could be dispensed with in favor of an integrated overall system. With this variety of topics, it quickly became apparent that a completely new ERP system would probably be best suited to meet all requirements.
STF and all4cloud met at one of the practice days of the SAP consulting company specializing in SAP Business ByDesign. There were direct discussions there, remembers Ulrich Hoffmann, consulting manager at all4cloud. After that, things moved very quickly. STF saw its preference for a completely new ERP system confirmed. And after the discussions with all4cloud, it was also clear that SAP Business ByDesign would best bring all the requirements under one roof – with a total of nine locations throughout Germany, each with its own way of working, the rental software accessible via the Internet was the obvious choice.
What were the advantages of a complete ERP system that tipped the scales in favor of the decision? An integrated cloud ERP system would offer a consistent data world, there is only one provider with one license agreement for all user groups. Any hassles with interfaces should be kept within narrow limits and the effort for the implementation should be manageable. The fact that maintenance and further development do not have to be handled by the rental software running on SAP servers was also very well received.
The implementation from January 2015 went smoothly and, at three months, in the shortest possible time. A particular challenge was to involve the key users and users distributed across all locations at an early stage, reports Ulrich Hoffmann, because their way of working was completely changed by the new ERP system. In a two-day workshop at STF headquarters in Dülmen, all those involved were familiarized with SAP Business ByDesign. Afterwards, Gerrit Essmann held several in-depth web sessions, where users could ask their questions.
Everything stayed on time and on budget and was right on target
A sample project
The project has been a great success for everyone involved, say the project managers in unison. The collaboration was intense, as were the discussions.
It was team play without airs and graces, that sums it up best.
And Hoffmann recalls that the collaboration was fun:
This was a real sample project. The management was significantly involved in the project work and contributed a lot.
Consistent and transparent
Today, the system-based mapping of the STF Group’s service delivery processes is consistent and transparent across the nine sites. Activities such as invoicing benefit from a reliable data basis, cost accounting is transparent, the functionalities are also appropriate for the complex project management at STF, purchasing and project management are now linked. What was unfamiliar at the beginning was that using the cloud ERP system requires a certain discipline to keep the data consistent across processes: “Making something fit quickly is no longer possible,” says Essmann.
SAP Business ByDesign now offers promising reporting options for this, he adds. STF’s conclusion:
The decision was right in our situation. The expectations of the stakeholders were met, the conversion effort was manageable, and we now have a solid foundation for our further corporate growth.
Founded in 1997, the STF group of companies offers engineering services in the fields of telecommunications, IT, technical building equipment, energy and resource efficiency, and recruiting. Customers include industrial companies, telecommunications companies, energy companies and utilities. The STF Group comprises the three companies STF Tele Consult, STF Energy and STF Placement and is present at nine locations throughout Germany.
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Henrik Hausen & Wolfgang Kröner - CEOs all4cloud