The Brains behind the Operation

December 12, 2007 by SAP News

In 1995, MindWorks’ CEO, Dan McNerney, was working at Apple where his boss told him, “You should either be a consultant or a lawyer.” Dan chose to become a consultant specializing in SAP, transitioning previous entrepreneurial experience he had gained running a construction company into his new role in the IT world. Thus, MindWorks was born. Now in its 11th year, MindWorks assists some of the top enterprise clients in the U.S. with SAP implementations, upgrades, strategy and other SAP services. Apple, Chevron, and Intel all have the Colorado based company in their address book and on their general ledger.
With just about as many IT consultants in the world as lawyers, standing out above the crowd takes quite a bit more than a business card and a P.O. Box. What started out as single contract managed from McNerney’s kitchen table has grown into a $14 million company with thriving consulting and software divisions. MindWorks primarily works on the technological side of SAP, but business process and change management services differentiate them from their competitors and improve the way their clients do business.
“We’re very familiar with the pains a company goes through in operations, not just with SAP and technical implementations,” says Matt Rausenberger, COO of MindWorks.
All too often consultants prepare to upgrade SAP systems minimally, usually by consulting a manual. But tailoring each solution to the unique needs of every client is where MindWorks concentrates its efforts. Familiarity with both enterprise and mid-market customers has assured MindWorks a place on the consulting map. But staying on top took some organization know-how as well as the assistance of a new partner, SAP.

Pulling IT all together

Growth is good. Managing growth, however, can be laborious, full of second-guesses, and absolutely necessary. When MindWorks started a new division focusing solely on providing software, they were presented with an opportunity to build the new division from the ground up. Salesorce.com, Microsoft Project, QuickBooks, and Excel represented a mish-mash of programs that MindWorks relied upon to keep the business humming. Instead of burdening the new division with this not-so-sweet suite of software, Rausenberger and his team seized the opportunity to start with afresh with a new slate.
“At the COO level, the biggest challenge in using so many programs is the inability to look at the whole company — from work that’s been booked to forecasting work that’s in the pipeline to understanding how our business is doing to helping us with hiring,” says Rausenberger. “We needed a solution that could integrate a lot of areas.”
Since MindWorks’ business growth depends on work in-progress and in the pipeline, managing consultants is paramount to their success, and the disparate systems they were using to do this was slowing them down considerably. One of MindWorks’ biggest hurdles was integrating the data in their accounting solution, QuickBooks, with the sales forecasts in their Salesforce.com system. This was accomplished by importing and analyzing all of the data into a trustworthy yet laborious Excel program.
“At the end of the day, it’s hard to manage using all these different systems. You spend more time trying to program them and keep them working than on deriving useful information from them. Internally, we said, “We’ve got to solve this,’” says Rausenberger.

Thirsty for a solution

Late last summer, with the new software division launching, Rausenberger had had enough of the disparate systems. MindWorks consultants were completing time and expense sheets manually that had to be re-keyed into QuickBooks, but they were never tied back to specific account information or work orders in Salesforce.com, which MindWorks used as a CRM tool. Management lacked an efficient way to collect and manage employee time-off, an internal org structure was absent, and employee records were in disarray. It became obvious to Rausenberger that MindWorks needed better information for planning, and a better human resources solution in order to manage the company’s 35+ employees, many of whom worked at client locations across the country.
MindWorks researched add-ons to Salesforce.com to interface with QuickBooks, and other packages that attack the services industry. They even tried to put together all the various pieces on their own. But not until they started talking to SAP about the software giant’s Business ByDesign did they find exactly package they needed.
SAP Business ByDesign automates all of the functions MindWorks was having issues with including CRM, finance, case management, project management, time administration, reporting, and human resources. And the fact that the new product was a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering meant that MindWorks wasn’t going to have to pay for licenses they didn’t need or worry about implementations, servers and backup systems.
“I would have happily drank the SAP Kool-Aid a long time ago but we couldn’t afford to implement an SAP Business Suite. SAP Business ByDesign was hands-down the best fit for us,” Rausenberger says.

Designed to Perfect Business

To date, MindWorks has implemented the Human Resource Management (HRM) component of SAP Business ByDesign to assist in organizational management and personal administration, and to take advantage of a self-service feature that consultants can use to manage expenses and project costs.
“We used to have to ask our employees how much vacation time they had left, and our numbers and theirs would range anywhere from one day to 10 weeks. We’d have no idea what was accurate, because we hadn’t been tracking it. That problem is now gone,” Rausenberger says.
The Project Management and Time Administration components of SAP Business ByDesign assist with software development planning and allow developers to log time against specific development activities.
Most recently, MindWorks implemented SAP Business ByDesign customer relationship management functionality for their software division, which provides complete account management, contact management and opportunity management, as well as case management. This new suite of services allows MindWorks’ software division to support their clients entirely through SAP Business ByDesign. The pricing and agility offered by SAP Business ByDesign, Rausenberger says, will empower MindWorks to change business processes with minimal time, effort and cost that will keep pace with their rapid growth. This is especially important, as MindWorks will be using the software division as a production pilot for a company-wide implementation.
“I really think SAP has thought through almost every aspect of our type of business, automating and bringing information together in one package,” Rausenberger says.
These days MindWorks is spending more time running their business than thinking about how it should be run.

Ian Alexander

Ian Alexander

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