Solving the Puzzle

Feature Article | April 6, 2009 by Simone Ringelstein, journalist, Mannheim, Germany

What is SAP Business ByDesign? The new solution of SAP for midsize companies is much more than just another software – it is a new concept! Software as a service by SAP for the first time.

ILC Prostep

optimizes its customers’ new product development and introduction (NPDI) processes using SAP tools and technologies. It offers consulting and implementation services for the SAP Product Lifecycle Management application as well as other product solutions. The tried-and-tested applications and innovative integration solutions from ILC Prostep enable companies to fully map their NPDI processes. For many years, numerous satisfied customers have shown their confidence in the unique process and technology expertise of ILC Prostep.

A mechanical puzzle, whose parts need to be patiently moved around until – bingo! – they form a symmetrical shape: that is the logo of IT service provider ILC Prostep GmbH, a specialist in product data systems based in Germany’s Saarland region. The company’s recipe for success six years ago was not so mysterious – five highly motivated employees and the idea to offer end-to-end solutions for product development and marketing based on SAP software.

And the idea paid off: The number of employees has increased almost tenfold. In the future, the SAP Business ByDesign solution will help ILC Prostep remain on its successful course. Managing director Oliver Quirmbach knows how important it is for start-ups to have the right software: “Like all companies, ILC Prostep started off small and pretty chaotically, but we were a good team and full of enthusiasm for our idea.”

This is still the case – even though the company has expanded to three locations in Germany (Koblenz, Bexbach, and Böblingen), the project work has become more complicated, and direct communication more difficult. “We soon realized that we would have to create greater visibility into our processes and standardize them if we wanted to maintain our quality standards,” says Quirmbach.

ILC Prostep knew what that entailed, since it itself is in the business of IT services, add-ons, and integration solutions. However, the first attempts to integrate its own systems did not bring the benefits the young company expected. “We soon saw that we needed an on-demand solution, because that’s where the future lies,” says Quirmbach. “What’s more, we very much wanted to map our three core processes – product development, project management, and sales – in one software landscape. That was possible only to a certain extent with the products that we eventually replaced with SAP Business ByDesign.”

Relying on trust

After weighing the options, ILC Prostep decided on SAP Business ByDesign. “We trust SAP software because we’ve been working with it for years. We made a conscious decision to become a pilot customer. We thought that, in tandem with SAP, we’d succeed. And we weren’t disappointed,” explains Quirmbach. “In today’s economically difficult times, it’s reassuring to use a flexible solution from a reliable partner.”

Low-cost alternative with advantages

Provided in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model over the Internet, SAP Business ByDesign offers small businesses and midsize companies a low-cost alternative to a locally installed software package. It gives subscribers all the advantages of an individually configured software landscape, yet the investment and personnel required remain manageable. It is ready to run quickly and can be implemented all at once or gradually. Whatever option companies choose, SAP is fully responsible for managing the on-demand solution – enabling customers to focus on their core business.

The first phase of the SAP implementation at ILC Prostep concentrated on the project, order, and service business. To ensure that it left nothing to chance, the company opted for the go-live execution package, which supports SAP customers that are implementing the on-demand software. ILC Prostep wants to start the next implementation phase as soon as possible and map further areas of the business, such as HR and purchasing. By drawing on best practices, it should manage that quickly.

The need to measure

The company expects the new software to enable it to work more transparently and efficiently, particularly in project management. “Making things measurable enables you to improve them,” says Quirmbach. “With SAP Business ByDesign, we can scale numerous processes, compare them against each other, and derive suitable strategies from the results. This is the only way to improve. For companies the size of ours, efficiency is vital in these times of economic crisis.”

The implementation went so smoothly primarily because ILC Prostep had set realistic, well-planned goals. “The SAP team provided the necessary resources and expertise, which enabled us to negotiate various obstacles successfully with them,” says Quirmbach. “As IT specialists ourselves, we know you can’t just deliver the software and expect it to run by itself. The only things that will work are those that you have defined yourself. We were aware of this from the start.”

With a partner like SAP, the company’s long-term goal of succeeding internationally is becoming much closer. Evidently, ILC Prostep has fit together all the pieces of the puzzle in its IT landscape with SAP Business ByDesign.

SAP Business ByDesign for Service Providers

The SAP Business ByDesign solution is available to midsize companies on demand. With this software as a service, they receive a tailored solution at the press of a button. SAP Business ByDesign enables them to map all key processes in one software installation and monitor them at any time – without a high level of financial or personnel investment. Service providers can respond to customer requirements faster and more flexibly.

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