SAP.info: Why did you decide to implement SAP Business ByDesign, a cloud-based ERP solution?
Arne Dost: Sailing Team Germany (STG) was founded relatively recently, in 2009, and was augmented by the STG Academy in Kiel, which is responsible for the sport-related aspects of our operations, in 2010. Because we are a new business, we made a conscious decision to deploy an ERP solution in the form of SaaS applications hosted in the cloud. SAP Business ByDesign enables us to map our business processes end to end and grant authorized users in Hamburg and Kiel access to data and processes whenever and wherever they need them. So, whether they’re using a laptop on the move or sitting at a PC in a hotel room or at home, they can simply log on to the ERP solution and start working.
What advantages does the cloud solution offer for your company?
Firstly, it ensures that our core processes – ranging from purchasing and project management through accounting and controlling – are closely interlinked. Secondly, it allows mobile data access. These aspects combine to make our business processes significantly more transparent and flexible than they would otherwise be. To give you an example, our sportspeople, trainers, and support crews take part regularly in competitions and sailing events all over the world. If they unexpectedly experience problems with their sailing equipment, they can now order the spare parts they need on site. Similarly, if the weather conditions change suddenly, the entire team and support crew can alter their hotel arrangements immediately online. On the management side, the cloud solution enables my fellow managing director, Oliver Schwall, and me to keep track of our budget and financial situation when we’re on the move, because we can access current key data from any location.
Which processes are mapped in your solution?
We manage our entire sport funding budget and the finances for our top sailors in SAP Business ByDesign. Each national sailing team is entered as a separate project to ensure that we manage our funds in a targeted manner and that we are able to provide accurate information about how funds are used.
Special events, such as the Kiel Week (Kieler Woche), are also stored as projects in the solution. This not only makes budget planning easier and more reliable, it also allows us to check project-relevant figures and documents quickly and to spot any deviations from the planned costs so that we can trigger counteractive measures if necessary.
Did security-related concerns put you off deploying on-demand software in any way? Does it worry you that your business data is stored in the SAP data center?
No. If I decide to place my business data in the hands of a third party, then I have to trust them. We’re convinced that our data is safer in the SAP data center than it would be if it were stored by a small IT company or on our own servers, databases, and storage systems. In my view, the chances of SAP’s data center suffering a power outage and our data being lost are virtually zero.
How could SAP improve the cloud solution?
Our business would really benefit from an automated appointment monitor for individual projects. At the moment, we have to keep track of our project schedules “by hand”. Also, the navigation could be improved. It’s not ideal to have to scroll across the entire screen with your mouse, particularly when you’re on the move. We’ve passed on this feedback to SAP as suggestions for improvements, but they’re only minor points. Overall, we’re very satisfied with the solution and with the support SAP provides. We’ve always received very quick responses to our phone requests for information and technical support.
What are your plans for the future?
In the short term, we plan to set up an online shop that is integrated into our on-demand solution. This will help add momentum to our merchandising business, which provides financial support for – among others – our Paralympics competitors. We will also implement CRM functions to improve our lead management. After all, you can never have enough sponsors!