Local Engineering Company’s Initial Investment in SAP Business One Continues to Pay Dividends Years Down the Line

Certus Engineering is a solution-driven metal engineering company offering its clients a turnkey service. Highly experienced in design, draughting, development and engineering, it is able to manufacture metal alloy products competitively and quickly, built to exact specifications and quality standards.

Founded in 2007 by the Benassi family, all possessing strong engineering skills, Certus has enjoyed steady growth over the last 13 years, all of it primarily as a direct result of word of mouth. “We pride ourselves on our ability to take any project from concept to design, to the production and installation of a perfectly engineered product,” says Michele Benassi, MD, Certus Engineering. At Certus, the focus is on turning any challenge, irrespective of size, into an exceptionally engineered solution.

Industry at large

Having started from scratch, Certus now enjoys an established footprint across many sectors of South African business, including agriculture, architectural, automotive, building, construction, electrical, furniture, military, mining and solar. “In fact, we have been involved in some really large and exciting renewable energy projects over the last few years, and enjoy decent traction across the motor, bus and truck industries as well,” comments Benassi.

Certus is also a dominant player in the rail industry, which sees it currently involved in a 10-year project. “The rail industry is a difficult sector to break into, with potential suppliers carefully vetted. This includes full audits and detailed inspections,” continues Benassi. Certus believes its success in this space speaks directly to its capabilities, zero rate of failure and being able to deliver on time and at the right quality. “Engineering is a very technical domain, and our industry is highly competitive,” stresses Benassi. “It’s essential to prove both one’s ability and loyalty right from the beginning.”

The South African market also differs to some degree from its overseas counterparts. While volumes might, in certain instances, be somewhat lower than internationally, local requirements are very specific and customised. “We feel we meet this niche very well,” says Benassi.

Right from the get-go

A significant contributing factor to its success over the last years has undoubtedly been its choice of technology infrastructure. Benassi knew from the very beginning that he wanted a system able to grow with them as they evolved, one that wouldn’t need to be changed or overhauled at any point down the line. “We didn’t quite know exactly what the company’s growth would look like, or when it would occur. What we did know is that we wanted a system that would be able to dynamically respond to our changing needs as it happened.”

Already familiar with SAP Business One, choice of solution from 4most, a leading supplier and implementer of SAP Business One and ERP software technology was easy, with Certus committed to investing upfront in whatever resources, time and effort was required to get it right from the outset.

“We knew we would reap the benefits and have never once regretted the decision to invest upfront in a system that, at the time, was probably more than we initially required.” The functionality enjoyed has enabled the Benassis to focus on building the business, confident in the knowledge that its technology infrastructure was not only sound, but completely capable of meeting the business’s daily operational requirements, however these unfolded.

The devil is in the detail

“There are specific nuances, unique to our industry and processes, that SAP Business One has streamlined and enabled over the last decade or so,” says Benassi. A key feature is its ability to ‘drag and relate’. “This is such a powerful tool,” continues Benassi.

“We deal with hundreds of thousands of different components not only needing to be quoted or invoiced, but also essentially needing to be tracked.” Without a system such as SAP Business One, this would have been an absolute nightmare.

“We need to be able to quickly and reliably track every single one of these components, sometimes months later, to see what was involved and the relevant margins and gross profits.” Local pricing is also very volatile, sometimes changing monthly. “You need a system that allows you to update your prices monthly, if needed, and communicate with your market quickly and efficiently so as to avoid any unnecessary delays.” What held the potential to be an almost impossible task, SAP Business One has catered for seamlessly and easily.

Another benefit over the years has been its costing and pricing spreadsheet. Having evolved over the last 10 to 13 years, it is easily integrated into SAP Business One, allowing the users to simply double click on any relevant item. What could have been difficult to manage, has given Certus the agility to respond to customer requirements almost immediately. “Stability and flexibility are key, always has and always will be,” continues Benassi. “So too is being able to trust the system’s availability, reliability of certain checkpoints and integrity of the data.

“We produce countless dozens of items, and due to the nature of our business and customers’ requirements, while we know there will be ‘new’ designs and developments almost constantly, we don’t always know what those requirements are going to be. However, what we do know is that we need a system that will be able to cope with that, regardless of what the requirements are. Without a doubt, SAP Business One is such a system.”

Poised for growth

Building on its solid foundation, Certus now stands poised for growth in the new decade, with plans under way not only for the design and development of its own range of products, but expansion into sub Saharan Africa and the opening of new offices. “It’s an exciting time,” continues Benassi. “Yes, COVID-19 has taken its toll on all of us, but moving forward, the plans we had initially earmarked for early 2020 will now start taking effect.”

Of great reassurance to Certus is that all the functionality it will require moving forward is already available within SAP Business One. “We are looking forward to harnessing even greater benefits,” enthuses Benassi, a key area being the project management module and integration of its payroll into SAP Business One. Further functionality will also include the integration of its stock onto the system and unlocking the benefit of the sales quotation module to allow for the tracking of opportunities and leads. There is also a new service functionality module. “There are certain suppliers to whom we outsource specific areas of our business. This module will allow us to more easily manage our outsource network, with greater control over areas such as quality and on-time delivery.”

Partnership

When speaking to its relationship with 4most Systems, Benassi simply comments that “it’s quiet and it works.

“We don’t have or need much contact with 4most Systems at all, largely because SAP Business One just runs and does what is needed. Apart from some big upgrades, and a few snags and challenges, as is the norm with any installation. Yet, nothing that 4most hasn’t been able to resolve quickly and efficiently.

“SAP Business One, together with 4most Systems, has proven itself as a future-proof long-term investment and partnership,” Benassi says. “As we continue to grow and evolve in today’s ever-changing marketplace, we have no doubt SAP Business One will continue to meet current and future requirements.”