FES started the “Corporate software future workshop” with the aim of securing a long-term competitive edge and expanding its position on the price-sensitive waste disposal market, a market which is just beginning to open up. The previously heterogeneous IT landscape made up of in-house developments and applications from different manufacturers was to be standardized using SAP solutions and enhanced to provide a new level of business-process support.
“The requirements were complex”, explained Frank Wittkowski, Head of the SAP project team at FES. Since the company handles both local-authority jobs and large jobs for private companies, different software landscapes made it hard to perform enterprise-wide processes smoothly. For example, the existing systems did not allow the response to customer requests to be shortened any further.
The decision to use SAP was based on a systematic market analysis which concluded that only SAP could offer an integrated complete solution. “SAP allows us to map not only our back-office processes, but also (and most significantly) industry-specific business processes and requirements in the e-business environment”, explains Mr. Wittkowski. With mySAP Utilities Waste Management, FES introduced further SAP solutions, e.g. in controlling, reporting, materials management, procurement and sales.
Punctual and efficient user training
After the conception phase, the project got underway at the start of 2002 and went live on January 1, 2003. Milestones included the conclusion of the feasibility study at the end of March and the conclusion of the implementation phase at the end of October. Mr. Wittkowski regards the project’s success as “an astonishing feat for all concerned – considering the size of the project and the fact that we also took into account future requirements”.
As well as the six project managers and ten representatives from the IT department, the project team also included around 45 key users and a number of external consultants. The work of the team and the other FES employees included thoroughly checking, revising and in places redesigning the operating processes. Data sorting and preparing the data migration from the old systems was another key area of the project work.
Because the new SAP software landscape would change the work of a large number of employees, training the users (almost 400 in number) was given high priority right from the outset. Based on the “train-the-trainer” concept, FES commissioned external trainers to train key users so that they could then train their co-workers and act as contact partners. The training courses began in November 2002 and ran till the start of 2003. As early as the introductory phase, users were impressed by the simple operation of the system and the clear data display.
FES has further expanded the all-round functionality of the SAP industry solution for the waste disposal sector (IS-Waste) with the help of business consultants Schmücker & Partner. For example, part of the customer-specific application development involved linking up the SAP sales component. This allows the costs of an individual job to be recorded and allocated. FES can also create invoices more flexibly, particularly in the commercial sector. “We have developed add-ons in the project such as feedback reports, bulky-waste transactions and weighing-device integration, which can also be used later in the standard version”, says Werner Gertz of Schmücker & Partner.
All operational processes and data are now mapped in SAP. “From the contract right through to the invoice, every stage and every service can be traced,” explains Rudolf Weising, Head of the IS-Waste project. Orders from the SAP system form the basis for the feedback reports specifying what work has been performed and/or what services have been provided. These are split up according to personnel, vehicles, collection containers, area cleaned, weighing device and authorization / documentation. By linking the system to SAP’s Environment, Health & Safety component, which contains all material flow data, internal and external weighing vouchers can be clearly allocated to the relevant authority permits and commercial contract data. This enables weighing data to be linked to order and contract data. Previously, this was not the case. Considerable monitoring input was required to prevent errors. Data from upstream systems such as plant weighing devices reaches IS-Waste via fixed interfaces.
Enterprise-wide data availability
It is not just the quality and transparency of data that has improved. “All key data is now available enterprise-wide”, says Rudolf Weising, outlining one of the main advantages of the system. “This facilitates operational control within the company, for example in the key area of route planning”, he adds. The entire workflow of FES has changed thanks to the more efficient software-supported processes. Employees are using less paper and are working with largely up-to-the-minute information. This makes opportunities for improving process efficiency easier to recognize and implement. Thanks to SAP, FES now has a more process-oriented, cross-divisional workflow that brings it closer to its customers. This will also increase efficiency, allowing FES to perform more work with the same number of employees.
“Our SAP-based IT landscape has set us up for the future,” says Dirk Stöver, Managing Director of FES. And his colleague on the management team, Benjamin Scheffler, adds: “Even if we can’t precisely quantify the Return on Investment, it’s clear that our new software platform is a key factor in safeguarding our future success”. Interest in the project from the rest of the industry confirms that FES, as a pioneer in the field, is on the right track. Since September 2002, experts from other waste disposal companies have been coming to Frankfurt to find out more about introducing SAP.
Focus on fine-tuning
After successfully going live, the focus in the first half of 2003 is on fine-tuning the system. In addition, FES will be building its own Customer Competence Center to provide users with expert advice and continuously adapt the software to new requirements. There are also plans to introduce SAP Strategic Enterprise Management (SAP SEM) in 2003 to support corporate planning. Preparations too are being made for installing on-board computers in the vehicles and using a document management system to further speed up the workflow. This should facilitate the exchange of order data between management and the teams in the collection vehicles.
Dirk Stöver has nothing but good words to say about the new system: “With SAP we are now better equipped than every other waste disposal company to mobilize reserve capacity, improve the cost-effectiveness of processes and hone our competitive edge”.