Not too small for SAP


This small company is a big-time mover and shaker, with revenue that jumped 350 percent in four years. Headquartered in Italy it has subsidiaries and associated companies in Germany, Belarus, Scotland and the U.S. Its success has been spurred by a set of innovative, patented new products, by the construction of new manufacturing plants, and by a targeted expansion of distribution capacity.
In the U.S. the company is bolstering its growth with SAP All-in-One, deployed with the help of Technology Solutions Company (TSC), an SAP services partner. After a fast, 16-week rollout, the company expects an increase in manufacturing efficiency and a reduction in waste. It also expects improvements in ordering and shipping, accounting and strategic sourcing processes. By May 1, facilities in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Florida will be able to operate in a more streamlined and optimized fashion using SAP.
“The deployment of SAP is boosting the morale of our workforce. It will help Polyglass grow and compete in the marketplace. And I can’t say enough about TSC. TSC has taken us to a whole new level,” says Mike Manning, chief technology officer of Polyglass USA.

Target: small and mid-size enterprises

It wasn’t long ago that Manning and other Polyglass executives thought SAP applications were too big and too cumbersome for a company of its size. One consultant told them that an SAP implementation cycle would take a year and a half. It wasn’t until they received a custom presentation prepared by TSC that Manning and his team learned that SAP All-in-One is targeted specifically for small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs).
“We were very impressed because TSC used Polyglass data, data relevant to our users, to prove what SAP All-in-One can do. They didn’t show us data from some fictitious bicycle company,” Manning says. Yvonne Hyland, senior vice president at TSC, also took Manning and his team to another TSC customer site so they could see the application at work. “It was seamless as to where TSC stopped and SAP began. They were the face of SAP in our eyes and they were partners we could trust,” Manning says.
Polyglass signed an agreement at the end of December 2006 and TSC and Polyglass wasted no time. They began implementation January 8 and expect to be live with SAP by May 1 in Nevada and Pennsylvania and Florida, the company’s three U.S. locations. There will be more than 30 licensed users.
As Polyglass ramps up on SAP, it is retiring an outdated MAS 200 accounting system. Manning says he expects there to be little or no operational disruption as the company transitions to the new system. “It’s as easy to use as throwing a switch on the desktop and there it is,” he says. SAP All-in-One offers role-based access and the ability to easily personalize applications.

Best practices boost manufacturing processes

“We are excited to implement industry best practices into our operations versus recoding old software to fit current needs,” Manning says. TSC’s SAP All-in-One solution, EDGE (Enabling Driver for Growth & Efficiency), provides such a set of best practices tailored to the needs of mid-market manufacturers.
Because Polyglass doesn’t have a dedicated IT unit, it plans to rely on an SAP global services partner, itelligence, to manage its set of hosted applications. The company is implementing the finance, accounting, materials management, sales and distribution and production planning modules of SAP All-in-One. Immediate goals include greater automation, more streamlined processes and cost reductions.
For example, in manufacturing, it’s common to have waste as a result of over-production, excess inventory, excess processing and other problems. Researchers cite waste levels as high as 50 percent for some manufacturers. Polyglass, already a top performer with low manufacturing waste, aims to lower its waste figure even more via SAP’s targeted routing functionality. By reducing and automating some of the labor-intensive steps required to perform shipping and billing processes, for instance, Polyglass can cut labor costs, gain efficiencies and improve manufacturing productivity.
And Polyglass, like many manufacturers, offers automatic discounts to certain customers based on agreed upon payment terms. With the new SAP solution Polyglass will be able to more accurately monitor this discounting process to ensure customers receive the discounts that they deserve.
Because many simple transactional functions, such a purchase order creation, can be done automatically with SAP, Polyglass will be able minimize these non-value add activities while devoting more effort toward value-add activities such as strategic sourcing. “Polyglass will be able expend their efforts negotiating better deals to create win-win scenarios with suppliers instead of spending time on simple transaction processing,” says Kieran Daly, the TSC project manager working on the Polyglass rollout.

No rest on its laurels

Its SAP deployment will be complete May 1, but Polyglass has no plans to rest on its laurels. It has aggressive future goals and will continue using IT to bolster its rapid growth. Manning says he and his team are developing a formal list of functionality that Polyglass may want to deploy in later phases.
For instance, they may outsource logistics to a third-party provider. And they may deploy SAP’s plant maintenance module to introduce more discipline and standardization into the maintenance of equipment. Because Polyglass is creating a standardized enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform via SAP All-in-One, it will be fairly simple to introduce those or other new business processes without disrupting day-to-day operations.
And although the SAP deployment is limited to the U.S., it’s not out of the question that it be expanded to Polyglass’s European facilities. “They are not part of this plan at this time, but I can see our success story translating over to our Italian facility,” Manning says. Polyglass’s innovation, strategic management and high-quality products are key drivers of its ongoing success, of course. But its new SAP backbone will play a helping role as well.

Sarah Z. Sleeper
Sarah Z. Sleeper