Why do some SAP customers get especially good results in software projects? Winners of the SAP Quality Awards for Europe, Middle East and North Africa know: emphasis on quality.

Prolific inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) made it sound simple enough when he said: “There’s a way to do it better – find it.” But not every business manager possesses the genius required to find the “better way” as readily as Edison could. After all, implementing new information technology in an organization is a complex undertaking that frequently leaves the people involved unable to see the wood for the trees.

So how do we transform business processes effectively?

SAP sets out guidelines for its customers’ software implementations in the form of quality principles (see useful links), which are drawn from the experience gained in tens of thousands of customer projects.

Al Nasser Switches Over

Sajan Babu Balna von Al Nasser and Rimi-Baltic CFO Maria Holstroem.
Sajan Babu Balna von Al Nasser and Rimi-Baltic CFO Maria Holstroem.

While adopting best practices is crucial to the success of a project, flexibility is also a key factor. Saudi Arabia’s lighting specialist Al Nasser Group was well on the way to choosing Oracle when SAP HANA became available for the Middle East region. After a swift change of direction, Al Nasser teamed up with partner Isyx Technologies to become the first company in the MENA region to successfully implement the SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA as a new enterprise platform.

When it named Al Nasser as the Gold winner in the “SAP HANA Innovation” award category, the SAP Quality Awards jury praised the company’s outstanding change management approach and its exemplary project governance.

Al Nasser in turn expressed its gratitude to SAP partner Fujitsu for providing additional support during hardware selection. Yet the “jewel in the crown” of this project was undoubtedly Al Nasser’s intensive use of Google Apps for documenting the project phases and communicating project-related information. “We always knew exactly where we stood,” recalls IT manager Sajan Babu Balna.

But you can’t always rely on a toolbox – however function-rich – or on external service providers. It’s vital to have faith in your own abilities too, as retailer Rimi Baltic reveals. The Gold winner in the “Business Transformation” category operates a highly specialized SAP system. Thus, when it came to automating the ordering and delivery system for 240 stores in three countries, it was simpler for the Latvian company to rely on internal resources than to spend time getting an external partner up to speed.

As a result of its implementation project, Rimi Baltic has been able to expand the range of products available in its stores without increasing its warehouse capacity. The company’s new automated and extended system has also eliminated a large number of manual steps, freeing employees from the burden of regular overtime.

A rigorous approach to project management was a crucial factor in making this demanding implementation a success. Rimi Baltic’s IT PMO Lead, Marija Gaidukova, comments: “We learned a great deal as we went along; including how to plan and coordinate resources effectively when the good people are in constant demand. It was a massive challenge.” Thus, despite being in competition with other key initiatives at the company when it came to securing resources, the project came in on target and on time. Working with key users throughout the company was also key to success.

According to Project Manager Thomas Muench, “establishing strong Key Users from the very start of the project was a key success factor. It allowed us to deliver a sustainable solution that is accepted by the business departments.”

With Quality and Speed

Meanwhile, ZKW Elektronik, an Austrian provider of light systems for the automotive industry and top spot winner in the Quality Award’s “Rapid Delivery” category, took the concept of planning to a completely new level when it implemented a new ERP system for a new development and production location with its Austrian IT partner, scc EDV-Beratung.

“Company management had a clear idea of how it wanted the factory to operate, so it was fairly easy for us to define the solution specifications,” says Harald Fraunlob, ZKW Elektonik’s Head of Operations. As a result 87 SAP users were able to begin working with the system in just three and a half months.

ZKW Elektronik’s new facility in the Austrian city of Wiener Neustadt was constructed in a record-breaking five months, and its new technologies and processes make it significantly more efficient to operate than the company’s other factories.

Spurred on by the success of the first and second project phases, ZKW is now set to tackle the third phase of its 2,000-item process master list. In the words of Wolfgang Sieger, Head of Logistics & SAP Application Management at ZKW Elektronik, it will continue to proceed on the principle that “it’s better to take a bit more time defining the requirements before you start so you can save time during implementation.”

Learn more: The SAP Quality Principles [PDF]