Rohrer Group: Making the Most of the Cloud

Rohrer Group’s IT department is convinced that transitioning to SAP S/4HANA Cloud was the right move. After only a few weeks familiarizing itself with the new system, the industry services provider is already sending out its first automated invoices to customers. But, it still pays to be cautious.

“We’re still a bit unsure at the moment whether we can solve the last remaining problems in the few weeks remaining of this very short, three-month implementation period,” Franz Wohlscheiber admits openly. As head of Rohrer’s IT department, Wohlscheiber is in charge of the technological aspects of migrating to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, focusing not only on ports, tools, and user interfaces but on user and management requirements as well. The migration impacts the entire organization, meaning Rohrer’s specialist departments are now all facing the same challenge: familiarizing themselves with the new user interfaces and now highly-standardized processes. As Wohlscheiber sees it, “The cloud is not a ready-to-run system, plain and simple.”

His tip for other companies seeking to migrate? “Let your service provider show you as many processes as possible during the selection process!”

Take customer billing, for example. The Rohrer Group cleans and repairs large refinery tanks and coordinates plant downtimes, which involves close liaison with the scaffolding industry. “There are no standards in the scaffolding trade,” explains Wohlscheiber, so costs are calculated and billed individually for each customer. In hindsight, it would have been better to dry-run the entire billing process beforehand because as it turned out, it took several weeks until Rohrer was able to create and issue its first automated invoice via SAP interface to its current system. And for that to happen, its external project partner S&T, a Vienna-based SAP gold partner, had to tweak a lot of parameters.

Shorter Communication Paths for Faster Realization

Wohlscheiber is nevertheless a firm believer in the cloud. To help employees get used to the new setup, he’s scheduled user training courses and insists on open communication.

And while Rohrer’s employees generally have the option of working from home, they’re all at the office in Niklasdorf these days, ensuring conversion to the new SAP system goes smoothly. “We like to keep our communication channels short and informal here,” says Wohlscheiber. “Whenever a problem arises we simply sit down together to discuss it.” Discussions with the S&T colleagues helping out with the training courses are mostly done via Skype, though the experts do travel to Niklasdorf for complex issues.

Wohlscheiber is matter-of-fact when it comes to the benefits of cloud. Founded in 1975, the family-owned enterprise has grown continually over the years – as have the requirements of its customers. In today’s business world, many of its big-name customers such as BASF, Shell, voestalpine, and OMV expect Rohrer to be able to import its service data into their respective SAP systems. According to Wohlscheiber, “If it weren’t for the cloud, I would have had to hire more staff, which is no easy feat given the lack of skilled labor nowadays.”

Thanks to the cloud, he and Rohrer are spared the costly operation of a server infrastructure. What’s more, the IT expert plans to leverage as many SAP functions as possible without having to burden his team with managing updates.

Central Point of Contract

Michael Perfler of S&T works in close collaboration with Wohlscheiber and distinguishes between two approaches: “Run the Business” and “Win the Business.”

Rohrer runs its business using standard processes, namely financial accounting, controlling, procurement, and sales, in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. It wins that business with the help of special solutions that connect its legacy system, a custom solution that Wohlscheiber has built up over a good decade, to the cloud via interfaces.

“Our staff has naturally grown accustomed to this home-grown system over the years,” Perfler points out. Converting to a “rigid cloud,” as head of controlling Maria Mitteregger calls it, is a major adjustment indeed. That being said, the old and new systems do have one thing in common: they are both Web-based and called up by means of a browser.

Rohrer’s main challenge when scouting for cloud providers was finding a solution that could cover all 45 of its locations across 14 countries. Microsoft was initially a contender alongside SAP, Wohlscheiber reveals, “But we wouldn’t have had a central point of contact there, meaning we would have had to constantly patch our various divisions together.” To help with the operational implementation, Rohrer then turned to S&T, the only company in Austria able to provide end-to-end support and flexible enhancement of the Cloud ERP portfolio from SAP. S&T’s entire team is cloud-certified.

Rohrer ultimately went live with SAP S/4HANA Cloud in Austria in April with further rollouts planned across the rest of its locations in half-year intervals. Looking back, Wohlscheiber says that despite the initial teething pains, he’d do it all over again. “Just remember to do a reality check every now and then!” he warns.

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