Industry services provider Rohrer Group has embarked on an ambitious adventure: It is moving its standard materials management, purchasing, controlling, and financial accounting processes to SAP S/4HANA Cloud and plans to link its homegrown, on-premise enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to the cloud via user interfaces.

The complex undertaking is much more than just an IT project, it’s an evolution shaping the very heart of the company.

“It’s a huge, ambitious endeavor, but with the right partners at our side we’ll be just fine,” says Jörg Steinlechner, system administrator for the oil and chemistry services giant. The reasons for the move to SAP S/4HANA Cloud are clear: Rohrer’s customers expect it and its existing systems can no long keep pace with accelerating business requirements. Spanning 45 subsidiaries in 14 different countries, the project is expected to take several years. As such, the enterprise brought Austrian software specialist S&T AG on board to help with the implementation and global roll-out alongside SAP as software provider.

Rohrer’s IT developers collaborate and communicate with all parties involved in the project, from the company’s founder, who defines the objectives, to the about 200 users in its financial accounting, controlling, procurement, and sales departments. S&T has already supported Rohrer’s IT team in the evaluation process and is now playing an active role in linking up the company’s ERP system, a development roughly 10 years old, which will remain on-premise.

“We’ll be replacing part of our existing ERP system and connecting the rest of it to the cloud via interfaces,” explains Steinlechner. In other words, the company will be deploying a hybrid environment going forward. This should generally be easier for Rohrer since its in-house system is also Web-based, meaning it too is called up in a browser.

Common, Standardized ERP System Sought By All

Heterogeneous system environments had put Rohrer Group in a bind – what about all those different systems in different countries of operation? As problems mounted, business departments and management began calling for a common, standardized system. Rohrer Group took action and decided to move its accounting, materials management, purchasing, and sales processes to the cloud. That now means new tools for the users, who can expect “changes to interfaces, work flows, and overall user experience,” confirms Steinlechner.

Applications, operating systems, and hardware will all be managed in the cloud, thanks to S&T’s knowledge and support. For Michael Perfler, SAP business unit manager at S&T, the benefits of cloud are clear: “Cloud users have lower costs and less worry!”

He finds the quarterly updates and functional enhancements of SAP S/4HANA Cloud particularly useful. “This saves companies from having to launch mammoth upgrade projects every couple of years,” he explains. “Plus they benefit faster from innovations.”

One of the building blocks helping Rohrer’s smooth transition to the cloud is SAP Enable Now, a solution used to enhance and deliver training content specific to the different business departments to the respective users. The IT team canvassed employees’ requirements in the various departments in advance and then designed training courses to get users fit for the new solution. “This input was, of course, indispensable,” says Steinlechner.

Communication is also a key ingredient for success for project lead Michael Friess, who, in addition to calling regular project meetings, has the IT team collaborate on a common platform to ensure smooth interaction. For Steinlechner, this goes without saying. “Our job as an IT department is to provide applications that support company processes and ensure the smooth running of operations,” he points out.

Austrian Subsidiaries Go Live

April 1, when the company’s Austrian subsidiaries went live with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, marked the first milestone in the migration project. Other subsidiaries are scheduled to follow every six months thereafter.

Founded in Niklasdorf in 1975, Johann Rohrer’s family-owned company has since grown into a global enterprise with more than 3,500 employees and an annual turnover of some €350 million. Today, Rohrer Group cleans and repairs oil tanks and barrels and manages plant downtimes, providing as many services as possible end-to-end from a single source – as per the founder’s philosophy. The conglomerate’s staff not only includes employees working on-site at industrial plants with hazardous substances, but computer scientists tackling highly complex database systems as well.

The company is also gearing up for the future with a digitalization strategy that includes robotics and automation. According to its CEO, the plan is to gradually automate more and more tasks going forward, especially those high-risk tasks that are subject to strict safety requirements. “After all,” the 65-year-old quips, “robots should do the dangerous jobs, not humans!”

This story originally appeared on the German SAP News Center.
Top photo via Rohrer Group