A Rollout with Military Precision

Simple stunning: GROHE implemented SAP CRM 7.0 in subsidiaries worlwide (Foto: Grohe)
Simply stunning: GROHE implemented SAP CRM 7.0 in subsidiaries worldwide (Photo: Grohe)

Rolling out SAP CRM doesn’t have to take six months, nor does it have to get out of control and prevent a company from operating properly. GROHE, a manufacturer of sanitary fittings based in Düsseldorf, Germany, called on Lynx Consulting, headquartered in the German city of Bielefeld, to help implement SAP CRM 7.0 in 25 sales subsidiaries.

The rollouts generally took less than four weeks. “Basically, you need to know what you want, and then you need to put it into practice consistently with a competent partner at your side,” says Michael Staade, chief process officer at GROHE.

The plan

Regardless of whether it was for South-Eastern Europe or Central Asia, the plan for each sales subsidiary’s international rollout was the same:

  • Adjust and update presentation
  • Import the migration template and user roles
  • Transfer data
  • Prepare training measures for using the system
  • Hold workshops on site
  • Complete the migration work
  • Go live
  • Duration in each case: four weeks
  • Period: February through December 2010
Screenshot of the user interface in SAP CRM 7.0 (Screenshot: SAP AG)
Screenshot of the user interface in SAP CRM 7.0 (Screenshot: SAP AG)

First step: implementing the templates

GROHE had already worked with Lynx in 2009, when it launched its SAP CRM pilot project and implemented a template for the rollout within six months. At the end of 2009, a team comprising experts from GROHE and Lynx began implementing the customer relationship management solution in Germany, France, and Singapore. It went live after about two months.

The SAP CRM-based processes were designed for global deployment right from the start and were the template for the international rollout. They form the cornerstone for an internationally standardized understanding of customers, projects, and classifications.

Bernd Schüler, who was responsible for project management at GROHE, adds that further prerequisites were differentiation according to country categories and a straightforward approach. The rollout took place in 25 sales organizations. A third of them were considered large international subsidiaries, where project teams comprising GROHE employees and Lynx consultants performed the rollout. The 11 remaining rollouts at smaller organizations were handled exclusively by the Lynx consultants.

Strict planning

“The work involved must be 100% coordinated and function completely smoothly. At such a speed, there is simply no opportunity to intervene and correct things,” Schüler says. For Michael Frankrone, head of Consulting CRM at Lynx, this means that the rollout process must be planned “with military precision.” This includes a meticulously planned project road map, in which tasks are assigned and are as standardized as possible.

For example, data migration scenarios should be defined only once. “Then everyone involved knows for sure when the legacy data needs to be transferred during the implementation, in what format, and to what location,” Frankrone explains.

Similarly, training material – including case studies – should also be created just once. “Without consistency, even the best preparation isn’t much use,” Frankrone continues. That’s why the implementations in each of the international subsidiaries have to stick closely to the requirements of the project road map.

Consolidated data for all

Frankrone regards arguments such as “a German sales process won’t work for Romania; we need to redesign it” as premature in most cases. “The business process milestones in the international structures of a company tend to be comparable. For us, an SAP rollout is the same. It’s what we do, regardless of whether we’re in Porta Westfalica, Budapest, or Astana.” Nevertheless, cultural differences need to be taken into account when working with local employees.

However, what’s much more important is the fact that sales staff worldwide increasingly expect access to consolidated market and customer data. “Imagine a construction project where the architect is in London, the investor is in China, the planning office is in Germany, and the construction site is in France,” says Staade, using this as a metaphor for GROHE’s international activities.

“From a central perspective, it’s necessary to know who has contact with whom and when, which subsidiary is submitting quotations, who is on best terms with the decision maker, or what stage a contract is at,” he says. As well as the standardized definition of customers, projects, and classifications, the use of English as the only language makes communication easier. A welcome side effect here is that the implementation times and costs are reduced by about a quarter compared with multilingual rollouts.


Bernd Schüler praises the commitment and pragmatism with which Lynx completed the rollouts. “An IT service provider must communicate openly, must think proactively, and shouldn’t make too many local exceptions to the rule. Otherwise it’s hardly possible to finish such ambitious projects on time and within budget,” Staade adds.

As far as time was concerned, they were right on target; and they even kept 20% below the estimated budget. “We therefore clearly showed that SAP CRM projects don’t have to turn into mammoth tasks,” Staade concludes.