SAP Business One – Connecting GEZE SA to the World

Local subsidiary enjoys complete integration, seamless and transparent reporting and increased efficiencies across daily operations from the start.

As market leader, both globally and locally, in window and door solutions, GEZE South Africa, the sub-Saharan distributor of GEZE Germany, has been in the business of servicing some of our country’s most renowned buildings and establishments for over 20 years.

But, it’s about so much more than simply providing windows and doors, says Kevin Diamond, local MD. “We work closely with several professionals such as architects, building surveyors and iron mongers, right from the start of any new construction project.”

Able to provide any kind of door or window, from automated to swing, with many permutations in between, GEZE SA provides an in-depth and highly specialised consulting service to said professionals. “Our IP ranges from guidance on the selection of correct handles or hinges right through to the technology required to ensure seamless quality functioning of the window or door solution in addition to traffic flow systems and the safety and security of various exit and entrance points,” says Diamond.

With projects likes Durban international airport, Hatfield Gautrain station, the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, countless hospitals and other healthcare providers around the country, GEZE SA has not only cemented its position in the local market, but stands poised to continue growing on its success.

“The nature of our business demands a professional and highly efficient technology infrastructure, capable of providing a seamless foundation and processes on which to build,” continues Diamond.

As GEZE SA continues to grow and expand its product category, the need for such a system became non-negotiable. Having outgrown its legacy infrastructure and the limited functionality provided, together with a strong requirement to seamlessly and transparently integrate to both its German head office and various other international subsidiaries, the decision was made to implement SAP Business One.

With the choice of technology driven by head office, provided with a list of approved and vetted local vendors, GEZE SA set about securing its supplier of choice. 4most, a leading supplier and implementer of SAP Business One and ERP software technology, stood head and shoulders above the rest. “Not only did they exhibit superior knowledge around SAP Business One itself, but 4most had clearly done its homework, knowing exactly what questions to ask,” says finance director, Tammy Goebel. “We had no doubt that our relationship with 4most would be that of a true consultative partnership.”

Together with 4most, GEZE SA began the process of preparing for implementation. This involved the uploading of everything from opening balances through to stock balances and all open items into SAP Business One. “There was a lot of information sharing and testing,” says Tammy Goebel. “Probably one of the biggest challenges was finding the time to prepare for ‘go live’, while simultaneously ensuring daily operations were not adversely affected.”

“It was an intense process,” continues Diamond. “If you think about it, everything within our organisation had to change, from stock process and stock codes through to all business partners’ account numbers.” This required an enormous amount of data checking and testing to ensure SAP Business One fitted both its market and financial requirements.

But, as always, attention to detail in the preparation phase clearly paid off. “Go live took place on 1 February this year, with only a mere three days of downtime experienced,” enthuses Goebel. In fact, head office was surprised at the ease at which it happened, commenting that the South African subsidiary had experienced the ‘easiest’ transition to date among its subsidiaries, with all credit attributed to 4most.

With only a few short weeks since implementation, GEZE SA’s financial manager, Michael Mokate, is already experiencing benefits. “It has definitely enhanced the business,” he says. “Increased processing efficiencies, and the ability to seamlessly integrate with head office from both an ordering and reporting perspective has changed the nature of my day-to-day activities.” With reporting, previously a manual process, involving spreadsheets and countless man-hours together with the propensity for human error, Mokate has no doubt the correct decision was made.

“Apart from integration and reporting benefits, one of our biggest challenges was the inability of our legacy system to detect when customers had exceeded their credit limit,” continues Goebel. As a result, customers could continue to order irrespective of whether their limit had been reached. “This is no longer the case, and it is examples such as this that illustrates the impact SAP Business One is having on our business.”

When talking to the future, Goebel sees SAP Business One as an essential part of the business. “Change of any nature requires time,” she says. “When you change a system and processes, a change in people’s habits is also required. It doesn’t happen overnight.” Consequently, the next few months will see GEZE SA focus on cementing its original investment, allowing users time to become comfortable with the new technology. “And then, I’d like to build on that,” says Goebel, “adding additional functionality and modules for even greater efficiencies.”

As for 4most, it continues to exhibit the exact same consultative partnership originally witnessed. “Right technology choice, right choice of vendor,” enthuses Goebel, with discussions already under way to secure a service contract with 4most to extract even more information from the system. “It’s the unexpected benefits, such as regular forums designed to address frequently asked questions and product changes, that continues to validate our choice of vendor,” adds Goebel.

“We are a professional business, functioning in a highly professional market,” concludes Diamond. “We needed a professional system. SAP Business One is proving itself to be exactly that.”