Customer demands for ever higher product quality with ever shorter product cycles force high-tech companies in the fields of medical technology, electronics, telecommunications, mechatronics (CD players, digital cameras etc.) or optics to act quickly and flexibly on the market. They therefore need to bring to market a broad range of products and services cost-effectively and with the shortest possible development time. “Efficient product planning, production, inventory management (which also includes inventory at distributors), and warehouse and transport management are therefore absolutely essential,” explains Harald Juris, development manager for PlautWorks at Plaut. Further, all (international) trading activities need to take into account the respective (country-specific) statutory requirements, such as batch traceability, and restrictions. “That demands an extremely high level of quality management along the entire value-added chain,” Harald Juris elaborates.
Covering all processes via presets
Alongside accounting functions (including financial accounting, standard overhead cost and profit center accounting, and asset accounting), the qualified mySAP All-in-One solution PlautWorks HighTech maps sector-specific logistical processes and sales embracing different company codes (cross-company sales). One of Plaut’s focuses is on interactive customer configuration of variants during order creation and subsequent order assembly.
PlautWorks HighTech also fulfills special requirements of technology trading in the high-tech sector. Harald Juris uses an example to illustrate this point. Trade in flat-panel displays generally also includes customer-specific fixtures or kits, which require sales to be made via multi-level bills of material. In order for SMEs to be able to act flexibly and quickly on the market, the mySAP All-in-One solution contains a series of coordinated production processes, such as “anonymous production with external processing”. This provides for effective materials planning and regulates external procurement (focus on subcontracting) and internal procurement (production control). It also includes processes such as back order processing, batch and serial number tracking, and packaging of the items to be shipped.
“We also identified early on that business processes, such as order creation or production, are always the same or similar in comparable companies in the same industry,” explains Harald Juris. “For this reason, these processes are already preset in our SAP industry-specific solution so that they can be implemented quickly, even with customer-specific modifications.”
Using Quick-Check to define the appropriate package
Depending on the complexity of the processes and the company’s requirements, PlautWorks HighTech is available either as a complete solution package or the basis of an individually scaleable solution landscape. For the latter scenario, additional solution portfolios with preconfigured processes are available from Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM), Supplier Relationship Management (mySAP SRM), and analyses from the SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW). High-tech companies are therefore not only able to develop comprehensive and configurable products, but they can also manage their relationship to their customers, partners and suppliers, including services across the entire sales process.
How can an SME ascertain which PlautWorks HighTech package is the right one for its situation? This is simple, holds Juris: “We use our own, internally developed QuickCheck tool to ascertain this. We deploy a catalog of specific questions to compare the extent to which our industry-specific solution already fulfills the customer’s requirements, which may be set down in a specification list.” The questions are used to identify the areas in the company in which processes can be further improved and thus made more efficient. Customers can test the future functionality using a demo system, enabling them to familiarize themselves with the benefits of the Plaut solution in a realistic scenario. “The results obtained in this way can be used as the basis for a sound investment decision,” says Harald Juris, describing the benefit. The Plaut consultants also devise solution scenarios for mapping the individual processes at system level which can be used to perform the implementation successfully. This also includes deploying a prototype via the Plaut data center in the course of an installation.
Methodical approach to straightforward implementation
Plaut’s project experience to date suggests that a two-stage SAP system landscape consisting of one server for the testing and development system and a second server as the live system is sufficient for implementing the solution. Microsoft Windows 2003 or Linux are compatible operating systems. MaxDB, IBM DB, and Oracle can be used as databases with SAP-GUI (Graphical User Interface) or a web client on the clients. Implementation is performed using a precisely specified method. This consists of a preliminary phase consisting of presentations, workshops, quotation and contract, followed by the actual project phase, consisting of installation (incl. kick-off, system set-up, and key-user training), customer-specific enhancements and modifications with data migration and a test phase with approval and live start. Optionally, support, helpdesk and SLAs (service level agreements) can be set down for the follow-on phase.
For individual areas, such as forms management, data migration, and reporting, the SAP Business Partner provides training packages at fixed prices. These blocks, which tend to be cost-intensive, can thus be run by SMEs themselves, which reduces costs. According to Juris, the detailed and transparent representation of all costs and overheads protects customers from unpleasant surprises in the form of unanticipated follow-up costs.
Formula for success: 120/6
The formula 120/6 is Plaut’s SME-compliant implementation model in a nutshell. The company offers PlautWorks HighTech as a basic model for a simple company structure (one plant, one company code) with a project duration of six months starting from a fixed price of €120,000. Costs for user licenses, hardware, and support are extra. Additional fixed price scales are in place for enhanced corporate structures (such as two plants, one company code, and two plants, two company codes) and processes.
“A short implementation time at predictable fixed and transparent costs is extremely important, especially for SMEs in the high-tech sector with limited staff resources as it enables them to plan reliably,” Juris emphasizes. According to the SAP system house, there is no minimum number of users. “This opens up our state-of-the-art, cost-effective and scaleable SAP industry-specific solution to high-tech companies with complex processes but only a few users, guaranteeing that all business processes are always perfectly synchronized,” says Harald Juris in conclusion.