The core business of EBRO ARMATUREN Gebäudetechnik & Service is focused on the sale of valves and related services for the construction industry. The company started up business in January 2003, and has been able to rely on the support of SAP Business One. The software, which is specially designed for small and medium sized businesses, covers all the business processes carried out by the sales company. Of the 10 employees overall, five people use the system every day to carry out very different tasks: Just a few mouse clicks and a couple of keystrokes are all it takes to create quotations and invoices, process orders, carry out purchasing tasks, or call up warehouse stocks. The relevant postings are made in the Financials component of SAP Business One.
The uncomplicated nature of the business software for small and medium sized companies perfectly matched the expectations of Bröer GmbH, a traditional firm in the machine and plant construction sector: “In our subsidiary, we wanted to use a separate, appropriate, and powerful but also user-friendly system. We were able to achieve this aim with SAP Business One,” reported EBRO’s IT manager, Bernd Gustav Goebel.
Gaining SAP experience independently
The company group, with headquarters in Hagen, Germany, has been developing and producing industrial valves and actuator systems for different areas of application for over 30 years. With around 230 employees, the company now enjoys international success, and achieved consolidated sales of around 50 million euros in 2002.
Since 1990, EBRO has been using the ERP System SC/400 for its business processes, a solution developed by Steeb Anwendungssysteme GmbH, which has since become part of the SAP group. However, when the sales company was split off from the main group, EBRO wanted to take the opportunity to provide the company with a solution based on the latest technology, and which was also tailored to the requirements of small businesses.
When EBRO was looking for an appropriate software for its subsidiary in the summer of 2002, the IT department was clear from the outset that it wanted to implement the new ERP system independently, as far as possible. “As a long-term user of SC/400, we have extensive IT expertise. We wanted to gain experience of SAP and the SAP software for ourselves,” states Bernd Gustav Goebel, explaining the decision. EBRO is one of the medium sized users that wants to be in charge of its ERP system from the outset, to run it independently and also enhance it, so that the company “knows which screw to turn when changes need to be made.” The company had already achieved this goal with SC/400: EBRO itself had made numerous enhancements to the system, and therefore carried out ongoing changes to ensure the system kept pace with changing company requirements.
Performance and user friendliness win users over
It was the long-term IT partner Steeb who brought SAP Business One to the attention of EBRO. “We were impressed by this new software for small and medium sized businesses right from the start,” recalls the IT manager. “We were won over by the performance on the one hand, and the high level of user friendliness on the other. On top of this, the system is future-proof, because the manufacturer SAP is a renowned and strong solution provider.”
Just six weeks after the contract was signed with Steeb in mid November, SAP Business One went live at EBRO at the beginning of January 2003. The project team, which consisted of five IT employees from EBRO, needed around 20 person days to implement the software in the subsidiary – and managed to do so with practically no external help. The team benefited not just from its many years of experience in IT, but also from the defined features of SAP Business One, which could be easily adapted to the company-specific requirements. “Steeb offered to be there for us with advice and assistance whenever we needed them during implementation,” states the IT manager. But EBRO only made use of the SAP experts’ consulting services in a few cases, such as the handling and optimization of the database, and for general optimization tasks.
No obstacles for inexperienced users
During implementation of SAP Business One, the project team’s main concern was to install the software on the hardware, and integrate it in the existing IT infrastructure. In this process, EBRO ARMATUREN’s requirements had to be compared with the system functions, and a few company-specific settings were made. These included implementing the authorization concept and modifying the forms.
Once the data had been transferred from SC/400 and MS Excel tables, operating tests and training courses were carried out. As the Microsoft Office user interface makes the system easy to use, even for people with little experience, the users were up to speed on SAP Business One in just two days.
Proven in day-to-day work
Today, the system has been proven in day-to-day work at EBRO. With a bit of fine tuning, EBRO re-adjusted the user interface to meet user requirements, and provided additional reporting options, such as those for calculating commission. SAP Business One has now been connected up to SC/400. Among other things, this connection enables order data to be transferred directly from SAP Business One to the central ERP software of the company group, where it can be processed further.
“Our experiences have been positive. SAP Business One has met our expectations. All the relevant core business processes are supported,” states IT manager Goebel, summing up. “With the software, our new subsidiary is equipped with an effective tool, and its applications are ready for the future.”