IT on Tap

It is a familiar situation: You place your groceries on the conveyor belt and watch as the checkout assistant scans them or swiftly keys a price into the cash register. What looks so simple actually requires highly complex data-entry systems such as those manufactured by PrehKeyTec, a midsize enterprise located in Mellrichstadt, Bavaria.

A specialist automotive component supplier that is part of the Preh Group, PrehKeyTec became independent after a spin-off and needed a software solution of its own. It chose SAP Business ByDesign. Martin Limpert, head of IT at the Preh Group, explains: “We wanted a system that would support the independent status of our new subsidiary. SAP announced SAP Business ByDesign at exactly the time we were looking for a solution. Because Preh GmbH was already using SAP R/3 and we were pilot users of other SAP solutions, we knew that we could rely on our partners at SAP headquarters in Walldorf.”

The company was also looking for software that would map its process chain from order to shipment. Because it manufactures keyboards for custom developments and thus operates in a niche market, PrehKeyTec urgently needed an integrated IT system. “Each customer has different requirements, which must be quickly satisfied,” says Rolf Ilsemann, managing director of PrehKeyTec. Only an end-to-end IT system can meet these requirements, he adds, whether they be for specific colors, key sizes, or programmable functions.

Solution model for SMEs

In Limpert’s estimation, the fact that SAP Business ByDesign is an on-demand solution is a major point in its favor: “As a midsize enterprise, we need an IT system that we can operate without having to worry about set-up and administration. SAP Business ByDesign is rather like IT ‘on tap.’ If we can access a server at SAP Hosting instead of owning and maintaining our own hardware and software, then we already have a major cost argument in favor of SAP Business ByDesign.”

Currently, PrehKeyTec is using SAP functions for financial accounting, asset accounting, controlling, time management, materials management, purchasing, sales and distribution, production, warehouse managements, and shipping. The company is also planning to implement Electronic Data Interchange for orders and incoming invoices as part of a pilot project with SAP partner crossgate. Moreover, it is eagerly awaiting the enhancements announced for SAP Business ByDesign and will deploy them as soon as possible.

Just a few weeks after beginning live system operations, Limpert is convinced that his company has made the right decision. A few minor issues did, admittedly, arise during implementation; for example, a certain amount of rework was required in all the SAP Business ByDesign modules, and the forms did not initially match the company’s requirements completely. But Limpert sees these as nothing more than the teething troubles that every new system suffers. The crucial point, he says, is that SAP responds quickly to suggestions and criticisms and has resolved all the outstanding issues.

Guided transition

For the workforce at PrehKeyTec, the transition from SAP R/3 to SAP Business ByDesign was not entirely straightforward, because the two systems are operated in different ways. Staff who had worked on an SAP ECC 6.0 and BI 7.0 System until go-live on June 1, 2008, was in favor of a strategic development and of continuing to work on the same level. However, after arranging training for his colleagues shortly before go-live and involving them in tests on the new solution, Limpert can now report: “Our employees have transferred all of our product orders into SAP Business ByDesign. I have received confirmation from everywhere that they can now operate the system.”

This success, says Limpert, is due in large measure to the SAP developers from Walldorf, who traveled to Mellrichstadt to observe PrehKeyTec users in action and find out how they think and work. “We’d never come across a software vendor who sends programmers to the customer site before,” says Limpert. “But – let’s face it – that really is the only way of tailoring new solutions to the needs of future users.”

Meanwhile, the surest form of quality control is to watch users of PrehKeyTec products – the checkout assistants – at the supermarket and be amazed at how quickly they enter product prices. “If the checkout process is smooth and fast,” says Limpert, “then both we and SAP have done a good job.”


PrehKeyTec, founded in 2004 and a 100 percent subsidiary of Preh GmbH, specializes in data-entry systems such as keyboards and touchscreens. The company employs a total workforce of 80 at its headquarters in Mellrichstadt, Germany, and at its sales offices in France (Cergy-Pontoise) and the United States (Lake Zurich, Illinois). With revenues of 17 million euros, PrehKeyTec recorded two-digit growth in 2007.

SAP Business ByDesign

SAP Business ByDesign is designed for SMEs with between 100 and 500 employees. This integrated solution covers the following application areas: financials, marketing, service, organization, human resources, internal and external logistics, manufacturing, project management, compliance with standards, and maximization of yield. Unlike other comparable products, SAP Business ByDesign software is hosted, which gives users access the functions they need via the Internet.