“Communication, satellite navigation and just-in-time logistics have an ever increasing influence on our day-to-day operations as a logistics service provider”, explains Michael Trefz, CEO of Trefz GmbH, PRODUKT > ZIEL > MANAGEMENT (PRODUCT > OBJECTIVE > MANAGEMENT), to give the company its full name. The company, which is based near Stuttgart, specializes in order-picking and packaging goods, particularly in the publication catalog and advertising media sectors. Since its foundation in 1996, the company has experienced rapid growth. Trefz now has a workforce of 50 and handles around 200,000 dispatches a year. Its customers include ADAC Deutschland, DaimlerChrysler and Bosch. “We not only dispatch catalogs and advertising material, we also offer our customers a full range of supplementary, transfer and other services”, continues Michael Trefz. Sequence and control management also ensures that products or goods reach their destinations securely and on time.
Change in system planned for some time
“The old DOS-based system had simply reached its limits when it came to serving an integrated service management system, as is operated today”, states Michael Trefz. For some time, the company had been planning to replace the previous system, which, for example, was not even able to map accounting processes, with a new software solution. “We wanted a complete ERP solution which not only maps our business processes as precisely as possible, but also enables us to modify and redesign our processes”, says Michael Trefz when describing the company’s requirements. The aim of the new software solution was to provide management with business management KPIs such as profit and loss accounts which can be calculated quickly and easily. An interface was also to provide an automatic link to the system of the UPS parcel service.
The CEO therefore carried out detailed research of the business management software market. Three suppliers made it through to the final selection stage, one of these being SAP Business One. Thomas Schneider, project manager at Leitwerk Business Solutions responsible for the Trefz project, remembers this clearly: “We presented SAP Business One in a workshop at Trefz. It was clear from the very beginning that the customer wanted to reorganize and improve his internal organizational workflows to tighten up working processes.”
Up and running in three weeks
This is why, he continues, Leitwerk Business Solutions also offered a business management support package. The contract was finally awarded after Trefz had provided Leitwerk with a performance specification and Leitwerk had demonstrated SAP Business One again in a more detailed second presentation. The transparent costs of the project were another issue which swayed the decision in favor of the SAP solution. “One condition essential for the introduction of SAP Business One was a range of concrete requirements set out by Trefz that had to be implemented immediately”, says project manager Thomas Schneider, who is still taken aback at how successfully things went. “The project was started on July 7, 2003. A structured approach was required to ensure that the undertaking was implemented as quickly and cost-effectively as possible for the customer. This is where the main areas of expertise of the Appenweier-based SAP Business Partner, which include the implementation of SAP Business One and the integration of IT systems, came into their own. SAP also provided direct support for the project. This involved sending a member of the internal SAP Business One Consulting Team to ensure that the installation ran smoothly.
In order to implement SAP Business One, Leitwerk Business solutions first named the project partners, drew up performance specifications and held various basic training sessions. The next step was to create a test system for prototyping reports, SQL queries and user-defined fields. Following several successful test runs with the system, Leitwerk Business Solutions made the customer-specific adjustments, including the linkup of the UPS Worldship software system and Trefz’s internal label printing to SAP Business One. “Following approval of the system and subsequent user training, we were able to go live on August 1”, says Schneider with pride. Seven users are currently working on the system, which runs as a client-server model on the basis of Dell hardware (server and clients). Windows 2000 is being used for the operating system.
Mapping intermediate stages
As part of the conversion process to the new system, Trefz got rid of its “old data baggage”, as Michael Trefz calls it, since no data was transferred from the old system. This enabled redundant customer data and superfluous clients to be filtered out. The SMB integrated individual projects into SAP Business One in consecutive phases. “The relevant business partners had to be recreated manually but this time factor was of secondary importance when compared with the redundant data”, explains Schneider.
The 6.2 release of the SAP software, which has enabled Trefz to fully map the intermediate order-picking stage, was of particular interest to the company. In practice, this means that wireless LAN PCs are installed at the individual packing stations in the warehouse, where the order-picking notes and delivery notes are generated for the individual consignments. Labels are printed at the same time as the delivery notes are generated. Either a complete label for the package service (UPS) or a neutral label for another means of transport is created. The label information is then transmitted to the UPS Worldship software system, which in turn forms the basis for the invoice from UPS to Trefz.
Good planning for the future
This is not the end of the story, however, because the Schwieberding-based company is already planning for the future. “In the medium term, we want to become the technology leader in our sector”, says Michael Trefz when describing the company’s objectives.
From January 2004, Trefz will themselves deal with accounting tasks using the SMB solution from SAP. This step was required to handle the considerable increase in debt recovery. There are also plans to process all aspects of the services business with SAP Business One and to expand the system with one or more B2B (Business to Business) shops. To ensure smooth data exchange with customers and suppliers, the SAP solution will in future be linked up with their SAP-R/3 systems.