Heliotron Deutschland GmbH specializes in candles made of liquid wax. For years, the midsize company’s business processes have been based around an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution from the cloud, SAP Business ByDesign.
Candlelight is for magical moments. Whether as a table decoration at hotels or restaurants, or part of the reverent atmosphere at churches, there’s something inimitable about it. In Freiburg (Breisgau), Germany, Heliotron Deutschland GmbH has been producing liquid-wax candles that make these moments possible for more than 40 years.
Family-Run Global Player
Today, Heliotron has around 15,000 business-to-business customers in more than 25 countries. Candle enthusiasts can choose their preferred designs from more than 19 million product variants. To provide customers with the best possible service, the family-run company and its approximately 50 employees need an efficient, high-performance solution for ERP. This is key to its ability to handle all its business processes without any issues.
When the time came to choose a solution, Heliotron had two options:
- Implement an ERP solution on in-house servers
- Acquire its ERP solution from the cloud from a provider like SAP in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model
The SaaS approach comes with several advantages: For small and midsize enterprises like Heliotron, it provides access to ERP software at a low cost without the need to worry about the corresponding implementation, operations, or support. The operating costs are also lower because customers only pay for the software licenses they actually use, and additional licenses can be obtained at any time.
The increased security this model affords is another key factor. Cloud-based ERP solutions like SAP Business ByDesign are provided by data centers in Germany that offer a level of security not many company-internal facilities can match. Meanwhile, the need to protect business and personal information is becoming increasingly important, including in connection with stricter requirements like the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on May 25, 2018.
SAP Business ByDesign: Backbone of Heliotron’s Business
“These considerations were what led us to get our ERP solution from the cloud back in 2010,” explains Oliver Schneeberger, managing director at Heliotron. Its solution of choice was SAP Business ByDesign, which is specially tailored to the requirements of midsize companies like Heliotron.
“Our company uses SAP Business ByDesign in a lot of different areas, from resource procurement, requirements planning and demand forecasting, and ordering trade goods and input materials, all the way to final production, delivery, and the billing of produced and procured goods,” Schneeberger reveals.
Thanks to SAP Business ByDesign, processes are fully transparent all along Heliotron’s value chain. Essential information is also available in real time, which gives the company the flexibility it needs to accommodate customer requests in short order. SAP Business ByDesign has also ushered in significant improvements in data availability, including for Heliotron’s sales staff. These employees can now access information whenever they need it on smartphones, tablets, and laptops as well.
Better Customer Consulting, More Flexibility for Employees
This advantage is especially important to Heliotron, which focuses exclusively on direct sales. Its specialists travel to their customers and provide them with all the guidance they need in person. As a result, they’re able to present each client with the ideal product for the purpose they have in mind. To make this possible, however, Heliotron’s sales employees have to have constant access to the latest information on customers, products, price lists, and delivery times.
In addition, the Heliotron is profiting from the scalability of its SAP solution and the option to integrate further software modules as needed. This has brought benefits to its employees, as well; Heliotron has used SAP Business ByDesign to implement a time recording system that gives its staff greater leeway in working their assigned hours. Here, the cloud solution constantly helps ensure that enough personnel is available to handle upcoming tasks.
Strong Demand for ERP from the Cloud
Heliotron isn’t the only company that has made the decision to switch to a cloud-based ERP solution from SAP. More than 4,000 midsize companies are already using SAP Business ByDesign, and the number is rapidly rising. Various studies have also affirmed that SaaS models like this have truly arrived in the German midmarket. Research conducted by the Berlin School of Economics and Law and the software company Forcont Business Technology found that nearly four in every five SMEs in Germany (79 percent) were using software from the cloud in 2017. More than 19 percent were using a cloud-based ERP solution.
Cloud Monitor, an annual study performed by the consulting firm KPMG and the German digital association Bitkom, arrived at even higher numbers in 2017; it found that around 32 percent of companies in Germany were already using an ERP solution from a public cloud back in 2016. Cloud Monitor also revealed that German SMEs are keeping up with their larger counterparts in terms of their use of cloud services. In fact, the cloud is now part of the everyday work routines of two-thirds of these companies.
Faster, More Transparent, More Efficient with SAP Business ByDesign
More than seven years after its initial implementation, Heliotron remains highly satisfied with its ERP solution.
“SAP Business ByDesign has enabled us to streamline our processes and significantly increase our responsiveness thanks to the real-time data and high degree of transparency it provides,” Schneeberger reports.
This year, the company is also planning to incorporate its online store into the solution.