ERP at Simplon: Tools for Change

Once Simplon had chosen the enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution it wanted to work on going forward, picking the right partner was easy: SAP had crowned B4B Solutions GmbH Partner of the Year in Austria several times.

This is the third in a four-part series about business management using a cloud ERP solution and the opportunities this creates. Here, we look at how the implementation partner impressed after the project got underway on September 1, 2016, where Simplon uses best practice modules, and why the new ERP system had to be up and running by October 1, 2017. Read the other parts of the series:

When the B4B team visited Simplon on the shores of Lake Constance in Austria for the first time, it made a very positive first impression. “Straight away, it felt like they understood our business and our vision,” explains Markus Geiger, director at Simplon.

Simplon Opts for Standardized Functions

Even today, Geiger still finds the speed at which the team and B4B were able to theoretically map out a new process for Simplon’s core business impressive. After the initial workshops, they had already clarified how the future process – from the point of ordering a bike to its delivery – would work.

SAP Business ByDesign was built to run in the cloud and, as you would expect, it primarily offers predefined best practices modules. Simplon adopted these best practices. B4B opted for an agile approach that helped it keep the customer up to date on progress by presenting and explaining every step of the implementation process.

Opting for standardized functions did not lead to any restrictions. Simplon was still able to have additional tools built for business-critical areas.

The Configurator Is Available in SAP App Center

Specifically, Simplon wanted an online configurator that seamlessly transferred data along its process, from order to delivery. B4B found a neat solution to the problem of offering unlimited – or limited – configuration combinations, for example, if a suspension fork selected by the customer in the configurator is only compatible with one or two specific brake systems. Instead of creating a bill of materials for every imaginable combination of parts, the system would create bills of materials on demand in the background while the customer is configuring their bike.

The configurator turned out so well that it is now available to other customers as an add-on in SAP App Center. However, other players in the bike market are unable to purchase it for obvious reasons.

Simplon also had other, smaller tools built. For example, Geiger can now call up the currency rates set by the European Central Bank every day – another feature that is now available in SAP App Center.

The Go-or-No-Go Date

The company made the conscious decision to go with standardized functions simply because when it came to most of its core functions, there was no reason not to. What is more, even standardized functions let the user define a host of parameters.

And then there is SAP App Center, where customers can access other functions that have been specifically built for SAP Business ByDesign. “Having your own tool developed is always the final option simply because it is so much more expensive and time-consuming,” says Geiger. And time is the one thing Simplon did not have because its new models were due to go into production on October 1, 2017. In its old system, it would have taken a few months to build up the configurations for the coming season. “That is why we set a go-or-no-go date in the early summer of 2017,” he explains. “This was the day on which we had to decide whether to proceed with the project or use our old software for another year. We made the decision on this critical milestone with our stakeholders and, based on the progress we had made by that time, chose to go live on October 1, 2017.”

Having chosen the right software and implementation partner, the project progressed well. But, there were a few differing views and push backs. Next week, we look at how Simplon and B4B worked together to find solutions and how they migrated processes and jobs to the new structure. As the final installment of this series, it also contains reflections on the project as a whole and the lessons learned.

This story originally appeared on the German SAP News Center.
Top image via Simplon