Always a Winner – IT at One Shot

”Just enjoy” is the motto of Lekkerland, a convenience wholesaler: a sandwich, a candy bar for a snack, and then a refreshing drink from a can. The product palette of the full-service specialist for all strategic sales channels reaches from candy and tobacco to drinks and snacks and even to telecommunication products like prepaid cards for mobile phones. The specialty wholesaler supplies approximately 62,000 customers in Germany – from kiosks to shops at gasoline stations. Reliable supply of these customers with goods plus comprehensive logistics, multifaceted service offerings, and wholesale sales are the cornerstones of the business model at Lekkerland. The company has more than 6,200 employees in 9 European countries and earned revenues of _8.5 billion in 2004. The most important goals of the group include offering its customers new products and services with the highest standards of service.

Quality is King

Those goals demand a great deal of customer management and logistics – challenges that the company’s SAP R/3 4.0B system was no longer able to meet. Over the years, Lekkerland Information Systems, the group’s own IT service provider, had programmed 3,000 in-house developments and several hundred modifications of SAP standards. The related maintenance was extensive. In addition, official support for the release ran out at the start of 2004, and the system had been kept up since then with an extended maintenance contract.
After comprehensive evaluation by Lekkerland Information Systems, the company decided to upgrade to SAP R/3 Enterprise. Its goals were to accelerate and optimize the company’s business processes with both customers and vendors and to reduce the maintenance effort as a way to reduce costs. As part of the upgrade, the company would successively replace numerous in-house developments with standard SAP functions.

Creating the Best Conditions for Success

Lekkerland Information Systems had insufficient personnel to manage the entire project on its own. “To support our internal project team, we looked for an external consulting partner in the SAP environment that could bring extensive experience in the management of complex upgrade projects,” says Wolfgang Scheid, senior vice president of corporate IT at Lekkerland and director of Lekkerland Information Systems as he describes the selection criteria for a service provider. “As a complete SAP service provider, itelligence AG best fulfilled the requirements profile.”
Preparatory planning for the upgrade to SAP R/3 Enterprise took place from mid-May to the end of June 2004. At the same time, the project team from Lekkerland Information Systems analyzed the requirements for a new hardware landscape. The new hardware was set up in October, halfway through the project. The new hardware included a Hewlett-Packard Superdome server with 268GB of RAM and a 96GHz processor, a mirrored system of about the same size, and 14 application servers. The net size of the Oracle database is 2.5TB. As a point of comparison, the Library of Congress in the United States has 20 million books that take up about 20TB of space. That’s what makes the system landscape at Lekkerland one of the largest SAP instances in Europe.
The starting pistol for the “real” update went off in July 2004. To keep to the schedule that called for the project (including tuning and training) to run until February 2005, existing processes with modifications and in-house developments were at first transferred into the new release as much as possible.

Test, Test, and Test Again

During the entire project, consultants from itelligence supported some 50 SAP specialists from Lekkerland Information Systems who worked on the project with project planning and coordination. They also provided quality assurance during some phases of the project. Their duties included the preparation and execution of three-level testing scenarios with complex and prioritized process tests and two-week-long integration tests. Because of detailed project planning and control, the update of the complex SAP system landscape with multiple subsystems to the new release occurred seamlessly. The project also implemented the SAP solution for human resources, SAP Business Information Warehouse, a warehouse management and control system, and a connection to an archive and fax. Customers are linked to the system with electronic data interchange (EDI).
“It was possible to reduce ‘frozen zone’ to around 4 weeks through rigid planning and strict monitoring of new developments as well as an intentionally short period between the ‘trial run’ and production system migration,” says Jost Potyka, the project manager at itelligence who was responsible for the upgrade at Lekkerland. Even the required training for over 2,000 end users occurred over just 11 days.

Practical Tests Four Weeks Early

One of the primary challenges of the project was to upgrade the system in parallel to ongoing day-to-day and project-based business. In some areas, the wholesaler went back to standard SAP functions during the project itself: logistics processing of electronic, prepaid telephone cards, for example. Every day, this massive business manages the PINs sold at over 10,000 terminals throughout Germany for loading prepaid cards for mobile telephones.
The new release went live at company headquarters and in 20 locations at the end of January 2005 – after a project that lasted only six-and-a-half months. “That was four weeks earlier than planned,” reports Jost Potyka. The first significant practical test for SAP R/3 Enterprise was already waiting. The Monday after the upgarde, 1.5 million order items were waiting for processing. Even with such a load, the operation went like clockwork. After only a few hours of operation, Lekkerland was able shut down the emergency backup plan it had so carefully worked out.

A Sustainable and Uniform IT Platform

As another advantage of the upgrade, Lekkerland now has in SAP Web Application Server (SAP Web AS, now called SAP NetWeaver Application Server [SAP NetWeaver AS]) 6.20 a standardized, open, and uniform administrative platform or all its SAP applications, including SAP R/3 Enterprise, SAP Business Information Warehouse, and mySAP Customer Relationship Management, which operates with a user help desk. Thanks to the new platform, the convenience specialist was able to improve more than its processes. It also noticeably simplified maintenance of its SAP solutions, which lowered costs. And last but not least, SAP R/3 Enterprise lays the foundation for additional rollout projects for Lekkerland’s foreign subsidiaries.

Jost Potyka
Jost Potyka