When an enterprise starts considering outsourcing its IT, aspects such as increased security, greater flexibility, and professional support for complex technologies are the focus of their thoughts. Outsourcing also offers numerous strategic options: companies have the opportunity to optimize important business processes, they are able to concentrate more intensively on their core competences, and reduce IT costs over the long term.
The Austrian company Wintersteiger AG is just one company that has decided to exploit these advantages. The global manufacturer of precision machinery for agriculture, wood cutting, and ski services counts on the mySAP All-in-One partner solution All for Machine from All for One, which it procures from the AC-Service outsourcing service center.
Strategic decision in favor of outsourcing
Wintersteiger had been using the enhanced PPS solution Diaprod for around ten years, but when the software vendor stopped providing system support, the midsize company was forced to take a new direction with regard to ERP. The mechanical engineering company embarked on a search for a new solution. Following market research, the internationally active company narrowed its choice to just two software manufacturers: SAP and Microsoft. According to the head of IT, Karl Leeb, the reasons SAP ultimately won through were its well-functioning partner network, its functional scope, and the international nature of the software. “However, we knew from the start that we wanted to outsource operation of the new enterprise solution. As a result, this was also a key decision-making criterion for us,” states Leeb.
Wintersteiger has a small IT department, which concentrates on core tasks such as process optimisation. This does not include IT operation or basic software, as the company believed this could be supported professionally by a specialist service provider. At the same time, outsourcing helps to avoid personnel bottlenecks in the IT department, because midsize mechanical engineering companies frequently face difficulties relating to this. For example, an important employee might unexpectedly leave the IT department, the supplier of the enterprise software used to date announces it will cease maintenance, or advances in technology to client/server systems needs to be taken into account. Customers might suddenly demand certified application from their suppliers because they have been asked to provide this by their own customers. Financial authorities announce that information previously recorded on paper only must now be documented. A company may extend its business activities to time zones that require daytime and nighttime operation for IT as well as a comprehensive disaster concept to safeguard against system failures. For midsize companies, these kinds of challenges mean that when human resources are limited, even selective requests for changes quickly exceed the IT department’s capabilities.
One solution for all locations
At Wintersteiger, the mySAP All-in-One partner solution All for Machine in connection with outsourcing services has been the answer since 2006. Implementation of the preconfigured industry software ran smoothly. “Without the support of AC-Service, we would not have been able to master the project,” stresses Leeb. “Even for the interplay between SAP software and hardware, hardware sizing, or controlling of the basic software, we would have had to build up and make available costly resources.”
In the first project phase, the industry solution went into productive operation for around 250 users in the head office. At the same time, the solution was rolled out for the locations in Germany, Italy, and France. The advantages of outsourcing are already being felt: no costly hardware and software installations need to be carried out in the individual branches, for example. Despite different languages, all companies access the system in the service center. This primarily results in cost benefits and increases transparency for group consolidation. In addition, it enables new applications to be introduced quickly and flexibly and rolled out for other branches. The central point of contact for users is the AC-Service service desk, which is available around the clock.
The second phase, from 2007, will bring general process optimization as well as the introduction of functionality for customer service, customer relationship management, business intelligence, variant generator, and consolidation. Rollout is also planned for the branches in the United States and Canada.
Flexibility to improve processes
With the outsourcing-based operating concept for SAP, the IT department is making a significant value contribution despite lean personnel resources and is currently in the process of comprehensively optimizing Wintersteiger’s complete supply chain. Head of IT, Leeb, rates the SAP implementation as “a successful project, which we would carry out again in exactly the same way.” The new enterprise solution harmonizes the business processes and guarantees traceable information at any time. Wintersteiger AG profits from this in many ways. In the business competition Austria’s Leading Companies, organized by PricewaterhouseCoopers, KSV and the WirtschaftsBlatt newspaper, for example, the mechanical engineering company came first out of 400 companies in the “Big Player” category.