Rohrer Group: SAP S/4HANA Cloud as a Collaborative Project

While Rohrer Group’s Austrian market was the first to convert to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Germany is benefitting from the experiences and moving its realization phase forward.

Erdal Karaca, chief financial officer (CFO) for Rohrer in Germany, doesn’t describe the migration as purchasing a product, but instead as a collaborative project with SAP.

“We plan to migrate to SAP S/4HANA Cloud on April 1, 2020, and originally planned to start the realization phase in late September,” explains Karaca. “Now we’re moving this date forward and starting on July 1.”

Karaca has been on board from the start, as a reorientation of the company’s IT had been on the table for years. In the fall of 2018, company founder Johann Rohrer decided to implement SAP S/4HANA Cloud. The group is active in 14 countries and, if everything goes according to plan, a new country will follow every three months.

Advancing the realization date for Germany is a sign that the subsidiary is benefitting from the lessons learned from Austria. According to Franz Wohlscheiber, head of IT at Rohrer Group, “The cloud simply isn’t a finished product.”

And Karaca agrees. Companies that go to the cloud also must change organizational structures and adapt processes – entire process chains, in fact. After all, thorough data-sharing with customers and partners is the key objective of the migration.

Vendor and Users Work HandinHand

Germany is Rohrer’s largest division, contributing €110 million of the company’s €350 million in annual revenue. “We have a very decentralized structure here,” says Karaca. For him, that means all 17 locations and every operations manager has to be convinced of the migration to the cloud. Having already notified his people in advance, it was important for Karaca to speak with each of them personally. He plans to bring them all together for a kickoff meeting before July 1.

Initial experiences show that the operations managers are somewhat optimistic, a mood shared by Karaca himself. That doesn’t mean he’s naive, however. “The learning curve from on premise to the cloud was underestimated,” Austria’s project manager Michael Friess says, a fact that Karaca recognizes.

He is also aware that the conversion from the former highly-customized processes to standardized workflows is a marathon, not a sprint. “We at Rohrer are always open to new things,” he says in response to the challenges. It’s not only a question of employee character, he says, but also of a collaborative leadership style.

Karaca sees the entire migration project as a collaboration. The number of SAP S/4HANA users is still small, and a few isolated technical hurdles have already been identified at Rohrer. It took weeks, for example, before the first invoice from the feeder system could be automatically generated and posted in the SAP system over an interface. “SAP needs willing customers,” says Karaca. The vendor works together on the solution with the users to develop it further. “This isn’t us buying a product; it’s a collaborative project with SAP,” he concludes.

Concerning development, Karaca sees the developer platform in SAP Cloud as a place where developers can really go wild. “It’s possible that they might even create the odd standard product,” he says, immediately adding, “That would have to be reflected in the price structure, of course – the businessman in me demands it!”

Interdisciplinary Core Team

Learning from experience also means adopting proven practices. In this case, it also applies to the composition of the core team. Like in Austria, the German team will have interdisciplinary staffing, including heads of specialist departments, the management team, and the IT department. Karaca estimates that the team will comprise of five or six people. The exact makeup will be discussed with external partner S&T, a certified SAP gold partner supporting the project.

One advantage for Karaca is that the Austrian and German sites are comparable, despite size difference. Romania is a different story, for example. The company originally planned to have Romania pioneer the cloud solution together with the Austrian headquarters, but it had to be delayed as some of the country-specific issues were simply beyond their control, says Karaca. However, with the openness that characterizes the Rohrer Group, he thinks the company is up for any challenge.

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