Keeping Focused

Plaut AG, headquartered in Austria, has had roots in the logistics and financial environment since its founding in 1946. The firm offers its clients a comprehensive portfolio in management consulting, with a business-process focus and hosting solutions. Delivering a complete, single-vendor solution remains a key customer message, as it has since the beginning.
To focus more closely on its European activities, Plaut recently sold its North American and Central European operations to IDS Sheer, taking the firm “back to its roots, our classic skills in business management, which are of particular importance in the large European markets,” says Herbert Brauneis, Marketing Director, Plaut AG.
Plaut became a pioneering SAP partner in 1982, when SAP was still very much technology-oriented. Consequently, Plaut positioned its consulting services around SAP as a technical product. “In 1982, SAP was the only vendor that provided true integrated solutions that were able to solve business problems,” he recalls.
Later, as the SAP products matured, the firms evolved a broader partnership. In 1996, when SAP was launching its SMB strategy, Plaut became one of its first resellers. Later, the company also became a SAP developer, based on its extensive knowledge in the financial markets. Currently, Brauneis estimates that 70 percent of Plaut business is SAP-related. Nor does he see this as a disadvantage: “The growth SAP has been able to show has been stronger than any of its competitors. And the recent decline was not so severe as its competitors.”
SAP, he says, has a clear vision both as a company and in the SMB market, and its technical platform enables Plaut to provide a complete solution to its clients. Equally important, SAP no longer limits its focus to features and functions, but embraces the whole business process, including understanding specific business processes, a crucial issue in the SMB market. Brauneis also sees SAP as a particularly stable outfit: “Our clients want stable solutions from a stable partner. They need to know that this provider will be there for the next 5/10/15 years.”

Hidden complexity

mySAP All-in-One solutions, developed for SMBs, offer complete functionality, he states, without showing the complexity of the infrastructure behind them. They also offer increased functionality only as the customer needs it, making it easy for a client to adapt its software solutions to the organization’s growth. And, he adds, mySAP All-in-One can support the client internationally, which few solutions can.
Under the umbrella term PlautWorks, Plaut has developed solutions for, among others, the discrete manufacturing, computer services, medical technology, high-tech, consulting, service provider, automotive supply, and beverage industries. From this wide industry-specific experience, the company has gone on to tailor industry-specific mySAP All-in-One solution packages. This development process is a difficult and lengthy one, Brauneis admits, but the alternative is to start from scratch at each customer’s site – an option that would be even more expensive.
For Stierirobst, a European provider of root extracts to the agricultural industry, Plaut delivered a mySAP All-in-One solution that supports the company’s specific business processes and streamlines dealings with its many suppliers. The project met all its original goals and was completed rapidly, he says. Plaut received an award as SAP reseller of the year (2002) in Austria.

A Mercedes for everyone

Plaut plans to increase its SMB market share through telemarketing activities to promote lead generation, and a joint SAP/Plaut road show has generated market awareness of the mySAP All-in-One and PlautWorks solutions.
Yet a major concern, notes Brauneis, is educating the SMB market about mySAP All-in-One and SAP Business One solutions, since SAP is still seen by many as an expensive choice fit only for large organizations. “mySAP All-in-One should be branded as the Mercedes A series,” he suggests. “Daimler has been able to maintain the image of a solid and reliable manufacturer, with a solid and reliable product. However, the A series is meant for a different size of wallet than the SL series.”
Plaut employees have long-term relationships of mutual respect with SAP employees that span all levels of the company, he says, from operational support to top management. Recently, Plaut and SAP shared a booth at a major Austrian fair where they showcased Business One solutions. In other areas such as training, support and information, he states that SAP does an excellent job – for technical support in particular. Plaut has its own training facilities – the Plaut Academy – but uses SAP training facilities as needed.

Derek Davis
Derek Davis