Most midsize companies talk about becoming a global player in their respective industry. But for PALFINGER AG, its internal discussions quickly turned into exponential international growth when it found and fully embraced the right partners.

“We take immense pride in our reputation for innovation. And for that reason, we are always looking to team up with businesses and providers that can strengthen our ability to deliver state-of-the-art solutions that our customers demand across a broad range of industry segments,” confirms PALFINGER CFO Felix Strohbichler.

PALFINGER began its transformation from a midsize company to the world’s leading provider of innovative cranes and lifting solutions. In a matter of 90 years, the manufacturer’s business network expanded to 82 companies in 32 countries with 34 manufacturing and assembly sites, as well as approximately 5,000 sales and service locations in more than 130 nations.

“With every acquired entity came a new IT and ERP environment and set of processes, doing similar things in diverse ways,” reflects Gerald Reger, vice president of PALFINGER’s Process and Quality Management organization. “Because of that, we ended up with a very scattered landscape that didn’t allow us to lift our teamwork to the next level with our new partners and across our existing business.”

To overcome all this complexity, PALFINGER needed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that would grow with the business and help future-proof its operations. “SAP put a lot of innovation power into SAP S/4HANA, and we wanted to take advantage of that depth,” explains Reger. “That’s why we decided that SAP S4/HANA was the perfect choice for us.”

Establishing a Best Practice-Based Greenfield Implementation

The centralized operational ERP capabilities of SAP S/4HANA are strategically critical for supporting process excellence, standardizing processes based on best practices, and increasing operational flexibility across PALFINGER’s worldwide sites and entities. To help ensure a smooth greenfield implementation of SAP S/4HANA, the company relied on the guidance, expertise, and innovation support of the SAP Value Assurance service and SAP partner ITSDONE Applications GmbH.

“As you can imagine, an SAP solution implementation like this has no option to fail for a company like PALFINGER,” Reger adds. “It’s of utmost importance that the first go-live date is met, then the initial outcome is on target. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable and strong partner like SAP behind us.”

In collaboration with ITSDONE Applications, the services and support team at SAP leveraged the pre-configured methodology, approach, and content from SAP Value Assurance. Following the service’s framework accelerated the successful go-live of SAP S/4HANA with less risk and safeguarded the cutover plan. In addition, it improved PALFINGER’s go-live by challenging preconceived plans and bringing to the company’s attention to leading practices and lessons learned from similar international projects.

The 24×7 global support of SAP Mission Control Center also benefited PALFINGER’s digital transformation initiative immensely. The control center advocated and delivered solutions that quickly resolved the manufacturer’s challenges and needs while pulling the right teams together to identify, address, and resolve issues as soon as possible. All this attentive guidance and proactive effort significantly improved the speed and continuity of data migration between legacy ERPs and SAP S/4HANA.

Although the deployment was carried out during a time of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the services and support experts from SAP helped ensure a rapid implementation within a tight time frame by engaging with PALFINGER remotely. Best of all, the initiative was completed without disrupting day-to-day operations.

The assistance of a united team of internal and external SAP experts and partner consultants enabled PALFINGER to assess and address a wide variety of concerns early on, including cutover plans, third-party interfaces, training plans, and go-live criteria. It even benefited from high-performing data migration tools, optimized custom code management, and best-practice integration test plans.

“SAP Services and Support helped us correct errors that are usually made – but can result in considerable risk – in such complex projects,” Reger says with satisfaction. “Without the knowledge and the experience of SAP, the risk that a complex project like this would fail is quite high. SAP Services and Support is a reliable partner for being prepared to manage the unknown.”

Energizing Future Growth with a Safeguarded Deployment

The implementation of SAP S/4HANA is inspiring a business culture that is excited about the future and attracting high-potential talent. And PALFINGER’s executive management team is ready to take its unified digital landscape and best practice-based processes to the next level to help ensure its growing business network continues to be successful.

“We are strongly convinced that PALFINGER has what it needs to go beyond €2.3 billion in revenue by 2024 and build a workforce of exceptionally talented people. The SAP S/4HANA implementation contributes greatly to this goal, empowering us to digitalize strategically to create new business models, streamline our environmental footprint, and optimize our processes,” confirms Reger.

To learn more on PALFINGER’s digital transformation journey, watch this video or read the business transformation story.