KWC Group Ltd., an international premium manufacturer of taps and comprehensive sanitary solutions, has made significant steps in its digital transformation by implementing SAP’s public cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition. The successful execution of this initiative, led by Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) Meno Vlietstra, has not only provided KWC with a solid operational foundation but has also paved the way for future innovation and business enhancements.
KWC’s transformation based on SAP solutions began in the summer of 2021, when the company spun off from its parent company due to private equity investments. This separation necessitated a swift adoption of cloud solutions from SAP to help ensure KWC’s independent functionality. KWC decided to have the new company be supported by SAP solutions for not only ERP but also customer relationship management (CRM), SAP SuccessFactors solutions, SAP Analytics Cloud, and SAP Concur solutions.
Vlietstra emphasized the criticality of this implementation, stating, “Failure was not an option. We had to be successful within a year. Basically, without these SAP products, this company would not exist after hard closure of all legacy applications from the mother company by November 2022.” Remarkably, the cloud landscape implementation was accomplished within the tight timeframe of just under a year, from December 2021 to the hard stop in November 2022.
Overcoming Challenges and Gaining Benefits
While the adoption of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition presented its fair share of challenges, KWC’s successful integration brought forth substantial benefits. The implementation required extensive effort from global business process owners and key users. The accelerated pace of implementation impacted initial user adoption and documentation completeness, prompting ongoing improvements in these areas.
Nevertheless, the benefits derived from the implementation were significant. KWC achieved global consistency in process execution, standardized its business operations worldwide within a year, and significantly reduced costs by consolidating nine disparate SAP systems into one. The company also gained access to enhanced functionality and innovation, as SAP developers provided essential features such as mobile warehouse management capabilities, external logistics integration, customer design collaboration, and significant application integration with additional software, which were crucial to KWC’s operations.
Vlietstra highlighted the advantages: “We now have global consistency in our process execution. On average, the functionality is better than it was.” Moreover, the implementation empowered KWC to start improving its sustainability practices by gaining complete visibility into its procurement processes. The company needs full transparency of its supply chain, enabling precise monitoring of product origins and energy usage.
Looking Ahead: Innovations and Integration
With a robust foundation in place, KWC is well-positioned for future innovations and business growth opportunities. The company intends to leverage SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition to help facilitate mergers, acquisitions, and divestments while also driving improvements in supply chain and enhancing customer experience.
Vlietstra shared his vision, stating, “What’s next for us is supply chain innovation, enhancing the customer experience, and exploring potential partnerships.” He also emphasized the importance of having other systems integrated from the beginning such as CRM, HR, product data management, digital marketing, and customer collaboration in the design processes, along with the need for seamless interfacing mechanisms across KWC’s global sites. “On the near horizon are further improvements of intercompany processes and sales and operational planning. The innovation over the next years will be in the CRM sales and digital marketing domains,” he added.
The Path to Success: Embracing the Public Cloud
KWC’s successful digital transformation journey stands as a testament to the advantages of adopting public cloud solutions like SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition. Vlietstra advises fellow CIOs not to hesitate in choosing the public cloud over on-premise solutions, citing the adequacy of functionality, possibilities for internal and external integration, and the speed of implementation as key advantages. By leveraging the public cloud, companies can focus on harmonizing and globalizing their business processes while entrusting the technology and infrastructure aspects to established providers.
As KWC continues to innovate, harmonize, and standardize its global operations, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition plays a pivotal role in enabling its sustainable success.