Switching from Excel to Business One

Vision Lasertechnik (Foto: Fraunhofer ILT)
Vision Lasertechnik produces laser systems for industry, medicine and research. (photo: Fraunhofer ILT)

Vision Lasertechnik, headquartered in Goexe, Germany, produces and sells laser systems for the fields of industry, medicine, and research. Its customers include reputable companies from many areas of industry, as well as research institutes and dental physicians.

Previously, Vision completed its order processing and retailing using office software supported by Microsoft Excel, Word, and Access. This solution was sufficient for coping with the company’s day-to-day tasks, but was not future-proof. Much maintenance was required and the functions were limited, for example, there were no modules for out-of-house production. These factors motivated Vision to start looking for a new solution in the summer of 2008. “After running for five years, it was clear to us that the software had reached the end of its life cycle,” says Philip Becker, operations director at Vision Lasertechnik, explaining why the company decided to replace the software with a modern ERP standard solution. What’s more, new medical products come with additional requirements – such as reference numbers, CE marks, batch traceability, and compliance with European Union medical device directives – so quality standards do not just apply to the raw materials that the company purchases (and it does business with around 1,200 suppliers), but also to the preparation and processing of these materials.

Next Page: variatec BX based on SAP Business One

variatec BX based on SAP Business One

The SAP Business One solution for small businesses first attracted Vision’s attention at the Hannover Messe trade fair in 2008. Becker explains: “The product developed by variatec addressed our issues precisely. We very soon realized that variatec BX based on SAP Business One would be the right system for us. In June, variatec presented the solution to us on our premises, and we gained a deeper insight into how the system worked.” variatec’s solution portfolio comprises application software, implementation methodology, maintenance, and support. As an SAP Gold Channel Partner, variatec offered Vision a comprehensive consulting concept, from initial advice through after-sales services such as support.

Implementation and practical experience

The implementation kicked of at the end of 2008, with employees already receiving training in the fall. It’s no secret that even the most extensive standard software can’t meet all a company’s individual requirements, so minor adjustments were required at Vision, too. The program has a multitude of functions that are generally needed for an enterprise’s work, while lists, forms, screens, menus, functions, evaluations, or dialogs unique to the company and therefore not included in the standard can be designed individually and integrated seamlessly into the system as a whole. With the Drag&Relate function, for instance, business information can be easily retrieved. This can be done by clicking the contents of a field – such as a customer or article number – in the quotation creation screen of the transactional system and then dragging it to a screen to launch a query. In such a way, pieces of data are connected – or related.

variatec BX was implemented on a new server landscape. As an additional safeguard, the old system ran in parallel for just another 14 days after the go-live on January 1, 2009. variatec BX’s simple and clear structure, the intuitive user interface, and the familiar Windows environment made getting to know the new software a straightforward matter for Vision’s employees. Depending on the business process to be mapped, it was possible to use the new software after just a few hours.

Next Page: Integrated Web shop

Integrated Web shop

“Around 95% of our business processes are covered with standard SAP Business One functionalities. In addition, it was easy to connect our Web shop – which had previously been a stovepipe solution – using the SAP Business One Software Development Kit. Our employees used to have to transfer data from one system to another and then amend it. This was an unnecessarily time-consuming task.

Now, orders that come in through the Internet are automatically forwarded to our ERP application. Not only does this result in greater efficiency, it also means that the subprocesses are completed without errors and the statistical data is reliable. As a result, all the functions for enterprise management are covered in a single system,” says Becker.

Working with SAP Business One

In just a few days, the laser equipment is manufactured to meet customer needs. The individual business processes are synchronized in SAP Business One and fit together like building blocks.

When a purchase order comes in, the SAP application automatically creates a production order. Next, a product-based bill of material is generated, from which the specific production requirements are derived. The bills of material are maintained in variatec BX. Using purchase orders, the purchased parts are transferred directly to purchasing. The next stage is requirements planning, and the results are order proposals or production orders. In the subsequent step, the solution creates material lists, so that everything required for production can be provided. Then the order is transferred to manufacturing.

All the components are manufactured externally by production partners and then assembled by Vision, so production orders are sent as “purchase orders.” The components for a product are stored in the corresponding “manufacturer storage location” – in other words, the parts that the component manufacturer requires for manufacturing the component are supplied directly by the parts supplier. This external operation is automatically confirmed using goods receipt.

Employees can check the stock situation at any time with the constantly updated inventory statistics. Because all the supply chain information is always available, any potential difficulties can be spotted and rectified in time. “Thanks to our modular product system and close dovetailing with our external manufacturers with delivery to the exact day, we can supply equipment built to customer specifications within a matter of days,” explains Becker.