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  • Know How

    We share with you our initiatives and our consultant’s knowledge which will help you better understand the systems we work with every day.

    From the concept to the success

    The way which the company has to get through to implement ERP system.

    The successful implementation of ERP system changes a company in relation to IT and almost the whole company functioning. It is the next step to the development and the improvement of market competitiveness.

    Nowadays, in order to prosper well and to develop along with market, each company should consider implementation of advanced information solution. There have appeared different systems which support the companies in limiting costs related to their activities. To choose an optimal system for a given kind of market, we need to decide which aspects shall be exactly adjusted.

    ERP system (name is taken from Enterprise Resource Planning) is a unit structure package of information solution. It includes modules such as: Accounting, Management, Human Resource, Sales and Distribution, Business Intelligence and many others. All units are integrated so circulation of information is automated. The integration enables to create different kinds of balances and economic analyses.

    The first step towards the effective implementation of ERP system is to define the overall business purpose but it is also important to align it with the company’s mission. Please note that you cannot ignore this process because it has an impact on the entire venture. Taking into account the course of implementation, the first stage (which is part of the above-mentioned statement of purpose) is the most important. Any errors made during the implementation, despite the successful technical implementation, may have negative effects and can prevent from meeting the business requirements. One of the basic assumptions in the definition of such a purpose is its measurability. It is important to define it in such a way that later it will be possible to check the efficiency of a system. Please note that if the system does not bring tangible results in the form of profits in the pre-implementation calculation, it should not be implemented. While planning the purchase it is also important to specify less important business objectives related to various processes and departments of the company.

    After the stage of the determination of aims, the company can proceed in two ways: analyze the current situation and identify the main areas on which it should focus during the implementation on its own or use the services of third parties (consulting companies). A company which chooses the second option can select a company that will be at the same time engaged in the system implementation. Today, successful companies provide implementation services based on an analysis of the company and assistance in choosing the appropriate system as a separate element of the bid. Examination of the current situation will help to avoid errors that will make the purchased ERP system, or its individual modules, not adequate to the needs of companies related to this system.

    When the choice of third parties has already been made, the whole process connected with the technical and technological aspects of implementation begins. It is important to develop a group of people, especially for the project, which will be solely responsible for the different elements of the process. Another important step is the selection of the implementation method. The chosen methodology identifies the different stages and steps that will have to be made during the actual implementation. The best way to choose the method, is to look for one based on proven solid basis, and which has already been successfully used in other companies. The method includes all the activities from preparing the project to the testing phase of the system. It is a tool that synthesize and supports the work of all those involved in the implementation. It is an action plan, in which each participant of the process has his or her functions, tasks and powers determined in the implementation process. Each company responsible for implementation may have its own implementation method (preferably when it is developed on the basis of own experience), so while making a choice it is important to get information about the kind of method used and to learn about it as much as possible. Depending on the company, that method may have a different number of stages (from 3 to 11), but while considering a particular method it should not be the main argument, of course. Important, and perhaps the most important, is the previously mentioned efficiency of the method, i.e. in which companies process of implementation was made by this method (it is also important how many), what problems appeared during implementation, etc.

    The process of implementation may vary depending on the chosen method, resources for implementation, the company powers, etc. Both external and internal factors may have the impact on the implementation of the project. The external factors are those which are not connected with the company and with the implementation specialist. In contrast, those connected with them are the internal factors of the project. Even with the best-planned implementation of ERP system and experienced implementation company we cannot avoid all risks. We can prepare for them in order to deal with them quickly and efficiently. A viable solution is to create, together with implementing company, a list of potential threats that exist in your company and its environment and then to develop solutions to them. It will reduce the risk of delays in the implementation process.

    After the technological implementation, it is necessary to deliver the end-user trainings so that they will know how to operate the system. Then, in the next stage, it will be possible to start testing the implemented system. In this phase you can directly notice whether the employees are well trained in the tasks they will perform on the implemented system and – in some cases it is even more important – you may get to know their approach to the whole project. In addition to the technical aspect of effective implementation, workers’ approach to possible changes has also got an impact on the effectiveness of the system. It is commonly referred to “soft” implementation. If in the initial phases of the project management will not be able to convince employees about the necessity of the entire investment, it will create risk that the project will not achieve maximum results.

    If the system testing has been completed nothing remains except to start production startup, that is to start using the implemented system in the daily operation of the company. At this point it is important to make the transfer of data to the system. To do it as smoothly as possible, you should create a specific timetable, which will include not only the sequence of data entered into the system but also a list of people responsible for each of the data with the date of the execution. Any small problems that may appear in this phase (large, if they were, should be resolved in the latest stage of testing) should be solved by implementing company. The period which includes the support after the implementation can be one of the factors determining the choice of that company.

    The implementation of ERP system is one of the most important decisions in the operation of the company. ERP system changes not only the information technology bases but also affects the way the management and business operation processes. Carefully selected and well implemented system will contribute to the evolution and development of the company. Purchasing ERP system can be considered as investments with very high growth rate.

     

    Author:

    Marcin Puchlik

    SAP Consultant in Financial and Asset Accounting

    Business Intelligence and data warehouses

    Large amounts of data processed in enterprises should be seen as a source of knowledge needed to make accurate business decisions. The progress in information technology has enabled the automation of business processes in enterprises. The automation allows you to streamline business, reduce costs and thus to maintain the competitiveness of the company in the market. However, to gain it there is the need of processing growing amounts of data. Is collecting and processing of this data only the necessary cost of effectiveness improvement? No, this should not be perceived like this. The data should primarily be seen as a source of knowledge which can be used to make business decisions.

    But can transactional systems (OLTP – Online Transaction Processing) such as ERP, CRM, or other of this class serve us to generate reports for analyzing the data processed by them? Of course they can, but this solution is not effective, flexible and does not cover a sufficiently broad spectrum of data. OLTP systems are not optimized for data analysis, which involves some problems. One of them is the performance question. For reports operating on large data sets (and this is often the case, in particular by reporting for tactical and strategic purposes), the execution time of individual queries in the system and generating reports happens to be unacceptably long, it may take up to several hours. The process of reading and analyzing the data has namely to compete with the processes of entry, modification and deletion of data which are the basic processes in the transactional systems. The reporting itself also burdens the system, especially if the reports are generated repeatedly and for many people. Transactional system architecture is not optimized for analytical queries.

    Another problem is the heterogeneity of data sourced from different systems. The company often works alongside a number of different IT systems implemented in different times and storing data in different formats. Data can also come from external files or from the Internet. Comparing this data in the analysis without its prior preparation may not be possible.

    Another issue is often the inability to fully and dynamically customize reports in OLTP systems, i.e. to compile the data in different configurations depending on current need of the analyst and to increase or reduce the level of particularity in the analysis.

    The answer to these problems are the OLAP applications (Online Analytical Processing) which are part of the Business Intelligence and complement the OLTP applications. They are specially designed for efficient reporting. The databases configured for applications of this kind use multi-dimensional data model. The multi-dimensional data model allows efficient simultaneous analysis of data in several dimensions, such as time, region, product group, and many others, and makes it possible to hierarchically increase or reduce the degree of detail of reported data (drill down / across), e.g. the levels of day, week, month; quarter, city, region, country; soft drinks, drinks, food products; etc.

    Data warehouses can be embedded on databases configured for OLAP. In 1990 Bill Inmon used the term Data Warehouse to call the theme-oriented, integrated, sustainable and time-variant data set used in the process of decision-making.

    Data warehouse very well solves the problem of reporting performance on large data sets. It stores a copy of transactional data, which is usually located on a separate database on a separate server. Thus, analysis using queries which read large amounts of data does not affect the performance of the transactional system and the queries itself perform significantly faster, at the time counted in seconds, minutes at most. Data stored in the warehouse is not only in a detailed form, but it is also stored redundantly as aggregates, which also significantly improves the efficiency of reporting.

    Regular delivery of new data to data warehouse, that is, copying data from transactional systems, is generally carried out after the end of the working day, usually at night, which does not burdens the transaction systems. This frequency of updating the data is absolutely sufficient for the strategic or tactical reporting.

    However, when there is some data in the warehouse that needs to be updated more frequently, which may be needed for operational reporting, in this case you can apply RDA process – Real Time Data Acquisition. In this process, the selected warehouse objects are fed by transactional data with a high frequency, e.g. every few minutes, which is close to real time. Another solution is to carry out a query through the warehouse objects known as virtual providers which refer not to data that is stored in a warehouse, but directly to data in the source system. Performance in this case, however, is lower and the method is, therefore, used only on smaller data sets and only by few users at the same time.

    The data warehouse application also solves the problem of heterogeneity of data from different source systems, databases, files and the Internet. By copying the data to the warehouse, the data is available for the entire company in one place and for a long time. Moreover, in the warehouse a process of “cleaning” the data and its transformation takes place so that data can be uniformly used in the analysis regardless of its source.

    Reporting on the SAP Data Warehouse enables to display reports in a very advanced graphical form, sending or placing them on the corporate portal in very diverse ways, taking into account access rights and responsibilities of individual employees. In addition, if the data reported falls in certain ‘red’ ranges, the system can automatically notify the relevant persons through the generation and transmission of warnings.

    The data coming from different source systems is standardized and harmonized in the data warehouse in ETL process (Extract, Transform, and Load) and is a good material for use in data mining processes. Data mining applies a variety of mathematical algorithms to discover interesting patterns and dependencies which are hard to notice in a large amount of data. In this way, we can notice that, for instance, in a machine a defect of one type often coexist with the defect of another type, or that customers who buy our product A often buy product B at the same time. With this information we can better plan the servicing of our equipment or in a better way present our products to increase sales and customer satisfaction. Data mining methods also allow to predict certain future dependencies on the basis of previous “experience” included in the data. They can, for example, predict how the sale of our products in different groups of customers will look like, or what is the likelihood of timely payment by customers of a particular group.

    Thus, business intelligence based on the data warehouse enables to carry put an effective analysis of the current situation in the enterprise and with the help of data mining it makes it possible to extract knowledge from the stored data. This allows to make better business decisions and more accurate prediction about the future. SAP is one of the main suppliers of data warehouse, as a module running both on SAP and other systems. In the SAP data warehouse the data mining process is already integrated, which allows to record information obtained in this process back to the warehouse or to CRM module.

     

    Prepared by:

    BPX S.A.

    Is SAP for huge companies only?

    In the twenty-first century, each large company needs advanced IT solutions to operate properly and to develop. The case of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is slightly different. For those companies MS Office and their own applications were enough, but because the market is getting more demanding, that situation is changing. Since few years SAP AG is the biggest player at the business software market.

    SAP AG offers the group of enterprise applications (for example: SAP Supplier Relationships Management SAP SRM, SAP Supply Chain Management SAP SCM, SAP Product Lifecycle Management SAP PLM, SAP Customer Relationship Management SAP CRM, SAP Enterprise Resourcing Planning SAP ERP etc.)to improve every aspect of business. These applications give a huge advantage to companies because they cover all the critical functional areas in a business (accounting, analysis, human resource, logistics, purchasing, sales, service, production, etc.). Due to high costs and lengthy process of implementation, only large companies can afford to have these solutions. However, to meet the expectations of the SME, SAP AG has developed SAP Business All-in-One (AIO). This is a solution designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises, and it enables to control all business processes taking place in the company. Target market is not the only difference between SAP AIO and standard SAP. Other differences are: the range of the solution, the cost and time of the implementation and the level of risk associated with the implementation.

    It is clear that the number of business processes taking place in big companies is much greater than in small and medium-sized enterprises, that’s why AIO solution was limited to the most important functional areas: accounting, financial analysis, logistics processes, production and sales. In practice, it turns out that they cover at least 90% of the processes occurring in the Polish companies. The great advantage of SAP All-in-One is its high scalability. Thanks to it, there is no problem with adding new applications to the system. As for the risk, time and implement cost – these three factors are closely related. SAP AIO is a solution that is based on over 30 years of experience of SAP, which is connected with the fact that this solution consists of the best practices that have been previously tested and their reliability is guaranteed. Therefore the risk of the project has been reduced to a minimum. Thanks to the fact that most business processes do not require additional configuration, the company can reap the benefits of the new system as soon as three months after the start of implementation. The costs associated with the implementation of AIO are much lower than for the standard SAP solutions. At this point, you can ask why SMEs should decide on the implementation of SAP Business All-in-One? At the time when there is a huge competition, customers become increasingly demanding to survive and to grow at the same time, companies have to invest in innovation.

    SAP AG – the market world’s leading provider of business software – has over 86000 customers. SAP Business All-in-One is a world-class software adapted to the needs of businesses in terms of demand in their industry, which provides a high yield. AIO’s aim is to meet all the current needs of businesses and to develop along with changes in the company. SAP All-in-One gives the opportunity to rapid respond to changes in environment and effective implementation of all operational activities; the transparency of information through a continually updated reports; the consistency of information across all organizational units; improved decision-making at every organizational level of the company. Significantly, SAP Business All-in-One is constantly updated and adapted for the requirements of Polish law.

    As everyone knows, in twenty-first century each company wants to increase productivity, optimize the processes taking place in business, as well as to reduce costs. This statement refers to both: the large corporations and the smallest companies. Until recently, only the first group was able to achieve its objectives through the solutions offered by the world market leader – SAP, therefore, worth mentioning is the creation of SAP Business All-in-One – an information system developed for the SME business market.

     

    Author:

    Rafał Klawikowski

    SAP AIO Consultant and SAP Logistics Consultant

    SAP Business Workflow

    The growth of business process efficiency as a result of using SAP Business Workflow

    The growth of business processes efficiency in ERP systems may be achieved through their improvement, optimalization and automation using workflow management systems. The popular idea of an American economist Lester Thurow says that competitive world has two possibilities for you: you can lose or, if you want to win, you can change. The ongoing, dynamic growth of world economy and strong competitive market make every company need to undergo changes and to quickly adapt to the new environment. Nowadays, to fulfill these requirements and to gain the competitive advantage, it is necessary to use tools, methods and techniques which increase the efficiency of business processes. At the same time these tools, methods and techniques should allow the company to keep flexible and to make it react immediately to environment changes.

    Core definition of business processes are not often reengineered. However, there are a lot of possibilities to improve, optimize and automate them. We should especially take into consideration these processes in which actions are initiated by a human and which employ machines, documents and all types of information that are passed among executors in a specific way. The best solution, which improves the quality and effectiveness of business processes that affect documents and tasks flow, is to apply workflow system.

    Workflow system which is delivered by SAP within ERP system is fully integrated with R/3 tool which streamlines document flow and improves the efficiency of workflow. It has a huge role in processes in which human factors and the sequence of performed tasks are important. Although the best effects of SAP Business Workflow are gained with connection to SAP R/3 objects, there are no constraints to support external solutions – the scope of use covers all business areas in which we deal with data, information and documents flow.

    SAP Business Workflow assures active, transparent and automated flow of proper information, in an appropriate sequence, at the right time, to the right places and in a defined form. Efficient and fast exchange of information between process participants enables to avoid mistakes, misunderstandings and delays on each its stage. As a result it improves the resources allocation, reduction of runtime and process costs. SAP Business Workflow is then the answer to companies needs in area of approval processes optimization, such as invoice verification, approving of absence and business trips, and purchase requisition or purchase order approvals. Moreover, the workflow system meets expectations concerning the definition and automation of specific processes, which are often executed according to top established business rules, for example, creating vendors or materials master data records in several divisions of the company. The important feature of SAP Business Workflow is also the possibility of making the process transparent, clear and supervised in order to achieve the optimal efficiency or, for example, to gain appliance with guidelines of specific acts or to adapt to internal organization rules.

    Practical run of SAP Business Workflow mechanisms in SAP R/3 is connected with creating (or modifying existing) workflow scenario for one of working system processes, using available system objects and defined organizational structure. The scenario defines which events initiate and terminate workflow run, under which conditions messages, announcements and tasks get to the proper person in the organization structure.

    Many universal and popular business processes are modeled in the system as ready-to-use scenarios. As a result we do not need to create them from the beginning and we only have to adjust them to particular organization. Thanks to the possibility of integration with external e-mail boxes, participants of process may receive notifications about triggered events and about tasks waiting for execution, with no necessity to login into system. Moreover, the integration with external graphic interfaces (i.e. web interface) to a large extent eliminates the need of direct use of system in favor of execution tasks and decision making through external, special and interactive forms. Considering intuitive environment of scenario editing, rich repository of templates as well as legibility and ease of modification, we receive possibility of quick reaction for changes of external conditions. During execution there is the possibility of monitoring and tracking the process run with report tools. Standard reports deliver such information as frequency of particular process execution, average run time, as well as waiting time. Furthermore, there is the possibility of reports configuration to present statistics of process run, with attention on data important for concrete organizational units. It allows to analyze the duration of creating master data records for various plants or to compare number of rejected purchase requisitions for divisions. The results of reports help to gain bigger effectiveness of process by managing participants and resources of processes without reengineering them.

    Besides optimization and automation, SAP Business Workflow gives clarity of definition and facilitates owners current control over their processes. High quality of process can be assured by delivering to participants all necessary information with hyperlinks to needed documents and system transactions. The participants receive them directly in form of messages. Defined, fixed time of realization assures the execution of tasks according to plan, and in case of failure, proper resources will be replaced. Thanks to the possibility of tracking of process run, its owner, as well as each other participant, can check progress of realization of particular tasks and the whole process is ready to execute further stages.

    The reduction of execution time of business processes is undoubtedly one of the most important features of SAP Business Workflow which results in growth of competitiveness. Besides improved effectiveness of area in which particular process is run, we may decrease costs by reduction of staff engagement in some tasks of the process. It gives us more flexibility in managing human resources, so we may allocate them more effectively. Clear rules, which are the basis for workflow definition and for the possibility of fast identification of bottlenecks, imply further important issue concerning costs – namely significant reduction of process failure may result in savings.

    Market effectiveness of contemporary organization to a large degree depends on efficient cooperation with business partners. In other words, it is not enough for processes of our organization to be faster and more fluent than processes of our rivals. It is worth to notice that SAP Business Workflow also assures the flexibility, rapidity and effectiveness in processes between our organization and key business partners.

    All presented advantages of using workflow management systems, as well as expected return on investment, are visible when workflow system becomes everyday work tool. However, unusual possibilities and undoubted opportunity of gaining a lot of measurable and immeasurable benefits give strong arguments for implementing this workflow management system, especially together with ERP system.

     

    Prepared by:

    BPX S.A.

    SAP Sales & Distribution in action

    Optimizing Business Processes Using SAP Sales and Distribution

    Today’s business environment is fast moving and ever changing, one which enterprises are constantly in a state of flux and must adapt quickly and evolve in order to gain a competitive advantage. The new economy is defined by global competition, widespread change, more rapid flow of information and communication, increasing business complexity, and continual globalization. Enterprises business processes must be defined by one which is efficient and creates value through maximizing resources, productivity and profitability. As an enterprise you must equip yourself with the necessary tools to meet the demands of the modern business world and be competitive in the marketplace. Many companies meet these demands by using SAP to optimize their business processes.

    SAP is a business solution comprised of many different modules equipped to meet your enterprises needs. SAP Sales and Distribution is designed to streamline and optimize your sales processes. It coordinates all resources, information, and activities that are needed to complete core business processes within sales and distribution; from quotations, to sales order, and finally billing the customer. Using SAP SD data flow is more efficient, and the information is consistent, reliable, and accessible. If software cannot grow with the needs and requirements of a company, the company will find itself very restricted. SAP is flexible and is designed to support and evolve with any business process. Each implementation is unique and is customized to the client’s needs and their processes. Using SAP SD will increase efficiency, improve productivity, and optimize profitability. Some basic functional features in the SD module are: – Pricing – Shipping – Availability Check – Billing – Customer Master Data – Tax Determination – Material Master Data – Account Determination -Material Determination -Transportation Planning

    Organizational units in SD represent the structure of an enterprise organization. SD uses a range of organizational units designed exclusively for mapping sales and distribution processes, such as sales organization, distribution channel and division. The organizational structure is designed to meet legal and business requirements of your company. These are clearly defined flexible units designed to simplify and make explicit even the most complex global company structures.

    Master records play a significant role in the sales process. A master record is permanent record that contains key information about a business partner or a material. When an order is placed information is accessed from both the customer and material master records. In SAP SD information is uniquely defined within deferent sales organizational units which allows you to sell the same product worldwide but with different master data, pricing, currencies, and conditions supporting the individual countries requirements for sales. SD enables companies to fulfill orders from all channels on time through optimized manufacturing, warehousing and transportation processes. This includes transportation planning, execution and tracking of individual shipments using real time global availability checks. Order management with SAP SD gives you the tools to complete your sales cycle with transparency, from the creation of quotations, sales orders and billing. Billing represents the final stage in the Sales and Distribution process. Information on billing is available with preceding documents connecting it at every stage of the order and delivery process.

    Think of the sales processes in your enterprise at the moment. An order is placed to one of your sales agents. How often will this order be entered into various systems during the sales process; from sales, to the warehouse, to shipping, to accounting? How long will it take for your agent complete all the customer information in the order? Can your accounting department quickly find in the system if the order has left the warehouse and whether to issue an invoice? This is not only time consuming but it also creates the opportunity for errors. With SAP SD, the process and master records are predefined and the person creating the order is asked for only a minimum amount of information. Order information is entered only once and is then updated throughout the sales process and available to all relative departments. Whatever your business process may be, from the initial order to invoicing can be automated. To achieve this you can use scheduling of tasks and collective processing of documents. Likewise you can place checks and balances on certain tasks to be approved or reviewed before processing. Current and complete information in any phase of the process is easily accessible. The document flow feature shows a sales document and all subsequent documents relating to it. This shows clear relations between documents in a proceeding sequence, so if there is a mistake it can easily be found and corrected.

    Consider this same sales order that has been placed. How does the agent know if the material the customer is ordering is actually available and how long will it take to arrive? If the material is not available, the SD system interacts with the materials management or production planning module and uses scheduling to automatically propose an availability date. Whether this material is procured or produced all factors are considered in accordance with duration when an availability date is proposed. If the material is available, a delivery date is automatically proposed. The delivery date takes into account processing time within the warehouse before the goods are shipped, and takes into account shipping time based on type of transportation and route. Special instructions or requirements may also exist for the customer such as handling instructions, method of loading, packing, type of transport, shipping point, route, payment conditions, or delivery instructions. These are automatically taken from the material and customer master records and can vary for the same customer in different sales organizational units and for different materials.

    All processes in business are connected and overlap with each other. SAP Sales and Distribution is no different and integrates with a variety of other business areas. Key integration modules with Sales and Distribution are Financials, Materials Management, and Production Planning. For example, during the billing process in Sales and Distribution by creating an invoice, the system will create correlating accounting documents and post it to the necessary accounts automatically. In materials management, to control inventory a purchase requisition can be automatically created when a material ordered reduces the stock below a specified threshold. When a material is not in stock an availability date will be proposed based on production planning, and the production process of the material will begin. Statistics are gathered and reports are created based on sales information and are available to your marketing department for analysis. Key information is passed to your CRM solution and sales representatives allowing you to establish relationships with and maximize effectiveness with every customer interaction. The integration of other business areas and SD interacts seamlessly and is automated distributing the right information, through the right channels, to the right segments with real time updates.

    SAP Sales and Distribution will give your enterprise the tools to compete in today’s global marketplace. By optimizing business processes SAP Sales and Distribution increases efficiency, improves productivity, and maximizes profitability. SAP SD does not limit you but is adequately flexible to support any process enabling it to evolve and grow with the needs of your company. Interaction between modules in other business areas provides you with a seamless and transparent processes and flow of information. In any company people are your most valuable asset. Not only does SD streamline your business processes but also empowers your team by giving them rapid access to information. Giving your people the resources they need to do their work effectively and efficiently will have a profound impact and greatly benefit your organization.

     

    Author:

    Brandon Martinovic

    SAP Logistics Consultant