Over the years, SAP landscapes tend to mutate into real labyrinths. Untangling them and weeding out unused applications makes an SAP system more manageable again and eases maintenance. Kurt Trillsam, CIO at the automotive supplier Modine Europe, had his SAP landscape thoroughly checked twice this year – and discovered several hundred unused transactions. At the same time, the service provider West Trax, which analyzed the systems, attested that Modine’s SAP landscape is one of the tidiest in the automotive industry.
The Modine Manufacturing Company, which is headquartered in Wisconsin, United States, makes all types of vehicle cooling systems, as well as thermal management solutions for buildings and data centers. Some 2,500 Modine employees are based in Europe. From Filderstadt, near Stuttgart, Germany, Trillsam also looks after the subsidiaries in China and India, which have around 600 employees. The 1,300 or so SAP users Trillsam is responsible for work with the SAP ERP modules, HR, PLM, and SAP Business Warehouse, among other tools. This year, Modine upgraded its ERP system to ECC 6.0 EHP 6.
Standardization, performance, system health: West Trax’s SAP analysis
Trillsam, who has been responsible for IT at Modine since 1999, had wanted to know for a long time whether he was running his SAP environment efficiently. “For ten years now, we have benchmarked ourselves with regard to IT costs,” he says. In 2006, he brought in West Trax to analyze the SAP systems for the first time. In the future, he wants to do this every five or six years. “I’d like to know how standardized we are, what our performance scores are like, and how healthy our system is,” he explains.
Next page: How Modine achieves 81.9% standardization
In terms of standardization, which Kurt Trillsam describes as being the “top priority” in the SAP analysis, Modine Europe already scored highly in 2006. This year, the company achieved 81.9 percent for the evaluation of the data from May through July – significantly higher than all the industry averages determined by West Trax and approaching the top score of 83.6 percent for the automotive sector. For Trillsam, this was confirmation of his strategy. When SAP was first rolled out in 1998/99, the name of the game was “SAP standard wherever possible.” Only in plants in countries such as Austria, China, and India did the team adapt the software to some extent to plant-specific or local processes. Trillsam’s IT employees also wrote some programs to make the software easier to use and thus to “increase the acceptance of SAP,” he says.
For an SAP system analysis, West Trax measures KPIs such as the degree of standardization and percentage of custom developments, and looks at how many of these are actually used. According to West Trax, the analysis takes just half an hour for the customer. The transaction data from the past three months is examined. “During this period, everyday business is recorded, including month-end closings and a quarterly closing,” says CTO Diana Bohr. If longer periods were examined, the KPIs would differ only marginally. Special seasonal events – such as the winter holiday period in retail – do not necessarily have to fall within the analysis period. “At such times, it’s business as usual, it just may be more intensive,” Bohr says. So far, West Trax has performed 1,400 analyses in 15 industries throughout the world, although the company focuses on German-speaking countries. The results are fed into a benchmark database, which enables customers to compare themselves with competitors.
Analysis discovers 550 unused transactions
Although Modine Europe’s SAP system landscape is highly standardized, the analysis unearthed 550 transactions (from a total of around 1,400) that were evidently not being used. Some of them concerned interfaces and processes that were no longer required, while others were related to plants that had since been closed. Furthermore, 100 transactions alone were found from the time before Modine Europe switched to SAP Business Warehouse – “when we were still creating reports using Report Painter,” as Kurt Trillsam explains. With checklists from West Trax, the company is currently working out whether, among the applications declared unused, one or two might still be required, for example for year-end closing. “After that, we’ll be able to clear up here,” says Trillsam.
West Trax’s analysis also shows that Modine Europe is number one when it comes to the performance of custom developments for the SAP systems. “In this test, we check whether the response times of custom developments are more than or less than a minute. This allows us to separate the wheat from the chaff,” says West Trax CTO Diana Bohr. According to the figures gleaned by West Trax, 13 percent of homegrown programs have response times of more than a minute in the automotive industry. At Modine Europe, this figure is just three percent. “The energy sector has the poorest scores here,” says Bohr. “Sixty-three percent of custom developments in the energy industry take more than a minute to respond.” Even if the good results of the SAP analysis essentially “confirmed what I believed,” as Trillsam says confidently, there were a number of small surprises, too. Plants in other European countries, for example, demanded to have additional programs from the IT department, insisting that these were crucial. “Several years later, it became apparent that some of them had only been called up once or twice,” Trillsam says. He adds that such findings have heightened his awareness of how to deal with such user requests in the future.
SAP analysis helps the CIO to market the IT department
Furthermore, the SAP system analysis is a helpful tool for IT department marketing. Trillsam concludes: “Without the figures from such a study, it is often difficult to show management where the company’s own IT unit stands.”