The company Kurt Ullrich, which was founded in the German city of Stuttgart back in 1969, offers over 5,000 frozen, fresh, and dairy products, ranging from meat, sausages, poultry, game, smoked fish, fine foods, salads, and pastry. The family-run business employs around 60 people and supplies commercial kitchens, canteens, hospitals, children’s and retirement homes, butchers, and restaurants, mainly in the German federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. “We work in accordance with the latest European Union regulations, and complying with the HACCP management system is also a matter of course for us,” explains Jürgen Pfitzner, deputy operations manager at Kurt Ullrich. “What’s more, the fast and reliable processing of all business transactions is very important – we already started using a homegrown software solution many years ago.”
Replacing the heterogeneous IT landscape
With more sales orders, a much wider range of products, stricter quality management requirements, and accelerated sales and service processes, the ageing heterogeneous IT system was stretched to the limit. “With our old IT system, it was becoming increasingly difficult to meet the requirements of our rapidly expanding range of products, changed customer needs, and legal aspects. And as a result, we were also jeopardizing our future competitiveness,” says Pfitzner. “But it would have been unjustifiably time-consuming and costly to upgrade that software. In addition, upgrading would have made the system even more complex and difficult to administrate.” That’s why Kurt Ullrich decided to implement a new – integrated and homogeneous – application, which first of all ensured that all the key business processes would be mapped transparently from end to end, and second would be flexible enough to hook up third-party software using interfaces and easily cater to future company growth.
SAP Business One is the application of choice
The winning criteria for the decision makers at Kurt Ullrich were SAP Business One’s mature functionalities in the area of financials and its great flexibility, as well as the investment protection offered by SAP’s market position. “Other ERP systems that we looked at – especially industry software for the food and wholesale industries – weren’t able to offer this functional quality and the open interface policy. What’s more, SAP Business One is easy to use, thanks to its user-friendly screens.
variatec – an SAP Gold Channel Partner
Pfitzner continues, “Companies of our size don’t usually have their own IT department, which is why they depend on a professional service provider to a great extent. SAP is in an excellent position is this respect. A decisive factor for us was the proximity and many years of good contact with Rainer Schilpp from the regional SAP Gold Channel Partner variatec südwest, who analyzed our business processes precisely, managed to get his head around complex issues quickly, and was able to translate our requirements into an optimal software solution, providing excellent service quality at the same time.” Rainer Frantzen, CEO of parent company variatec, headquartered in the town of Willich in Germany’s Lower Rhine region, adds: “With a complete solution portfolio comprising application software, implementation methodology, maintenance, and support, we focus exclusively on implementing IT projects – including complex ones – for small and midsize companies. The SAP partner structure means that customers benefit from the partners’ midmarket experience as well as their competence in the industry in question.”
Open interfaces and large volumes of data
According to Pfitzner, the great advantage of the new software lies in the SAP Business One policy of open interfaces. For example, in the B2B area, order, price, and delivery data is exchanged with large catering customers through an EDI interface, with no media discontinuity. This makes the processes faster and much more reliable. The Kurt Ullrich product catalog is stored in the customer’s IT system, the customer places a purchase order, and this automatically generates an order in SAP Business One. Kurt Ullrich has now been working with SAP Business One since 2004, and has 22 licenses. The Microsoft SQL Server database handles an impressive volume of data: 200 sales orders a day, each with at least five items. Pfitzner explains, “Over the past five years or so since we implemented SAP Business One, we have already accumulated more than 250,000 sales orders – plus a whole host of follow-on documents. That’s why a clearly structured ERP system is indispensable.”
End-to-end business processes
With a fleet of over 20 trucks – most with two refrigeration units – Kurt Ullrich delivers products to its customers, mainly in southern Germany, every day. Pfitzner explains: “On the one hand, delivery reliability is a key strength of ours. Orders received by 5 a.m. are usually shipped on the same working day. But on the other hand, orders at such short notice, changes, or cancellations represent a great challenge for the software.” To increase punctuality and flexibility and to enable accurate predictions, Kurt Ullrich deploys the fleet management solution from Euro-Telematik for route planning and vehicle monitoring, so orders can be easily managed and analyzed in detail. “variatec set up an interface to SAP Business One to enable the scheduling data – which is currently still gathered on an external server – to be sent straight to the ERP system in the future and thus be automatically assigned to the appropriate order. We expect this will be another optimization, further increasing the continuity of our business processes.”
Cross-department access to data
Today at Kurt Ullrich, all data is mapped end-to-end in one system using SAP Business One. This ensures greater transparency, a better workflow, and improved data quality, while avoiding redundancy. Pfitzner therefore also regards the application as an essential competitive factor in this fiercely contested market. “Our employees have direct access to all business data – which is precise and complete. All the departments can access SAP Business One and exchange data with other areas. As a result, the internal flow of information has improved drastically, which leads to greater process transparency and minimizes day-to-day errors,” he says. “For example, with the software, you can track the status of an order at any time, while delivery notes and invoices can be displayed at the touch of a button. Particularly in the area of B2B, this reduces the load on office-based personnel considerably. Orders can be dealt with faster and more precisely, resulting in a considerable improvement in service quality among our staff, which in turn benefits our customers.”
Looking ahead to CRM
The cornerstone for further growth at Kurt Ullrich has been set: At the end of 2009, the company moved to new premises, “which also impacted our IT system – notably through a significant increase in data volume,” says Pfitzner. “But SAP Business One is an innovative application that can keep pace with our growth today and tomorrow. Not only does it cater to our current needs, it will also optimally meet our future requirements. What’s more, the system operates really smoothly, so we can look ahead with confidence,” he adds. The much larger high-rack storage area has around 3,000 storage slots for dry goods and 400 slots for fresh goods. The warehouse management system now uses forklift terminals, which replace the old manual pick lists. The ultimate goal is to have paperless picking processes. Finally, there are plans to expand the customer relationship management (CRM) functionalities already used in SAP Business One, which the decision makers at Kurt Ullrich hope will further enhance the user experience and trigger improvements in terms of timing and quality – for example, in telesales activities or the analysis of marketing campaigns.