ABOUT THE CUSTOMER
Starting out as a small family-owned business in 1926, the company expanded their offerings and cultivated a passion for design and innovation. Creating high-quality, finely crafted architectural elements helped them grow into the largest supplier and manufacturer of solid wood and composite moldings in North America. Currently operating manufacturing facilities and 26 distribution centers in North America.
Business growth demanded an automated solution for SAP Material Master adjustments that would ensure data integrity, business rule compliance, visibility into the process, and eliminate manual data entry. The solution(s) also needed to be scalable to support an aggressive growth plan imposed by upper management. The client was utilizing a complex Excel-based form (template) in conjunction with SharePoint workflow to collect data from various business users. This system presented numerous challenges:
Template Limitations: Although the Excel template limited some of the SAP data to dropdown lists, these lists had to be manually updated when the values changed in SAP. When these changes were made a new version of the template had to be distributed throughout the business and there was no way to ensure users were completing the data with the latest version of the template.
Business Rule Compliance: Additionally, it was not possible to ensure business rules were followed based on varying combinations of data. Many of the users completing the data did not understand the downstream impact of data requiring 100% manual inspection and correction by data stewards.
Missed SLAs: The SharePoint workflow process required 'pushing and pulling' a new request through the process which often led to missed Service Level Agreements (SLA) due to a lack of visibility into the process as well as the inability to remind users of tasks that were coming due or overdue.
Manual Entry & Data Integrity: Once a request was completed and the data was manually corrected by a data steward it was manually keyed into SAP which often resulted in data entry errors.
APPROACH AND DISCOVERY
The client identified a feature list for software selection that would replace the current system and solve the inherent problems:
- Webforms (for structured data-entry)
- Automated (real-time) updates of drop-down lists
- An Enterprise-Class Business Rules Engine
- Simplified and transparent workflow with Reporting and Dashboard
- Seamless SAP and non-SAP system integration
After a three-year software selection journey; In-depth research of several Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platforms; Demos and reference checks from multiple vendors—they selected Decisions for SAP Solutions™. What made us the front-runner were several factors.
Decisions for SAP Solutions™:
- Exceeded their list of must-have features
- True No-Code development
- Glowing customer reviews of
- the software and
- our commitment to customer service
- Lowest cost of ownership
RESULTS AND IMPACT
The company implemented a Material Master Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) solution that enforced complex business rules, included a combination of real-time and cached SAP drop-downs, automated workflow tasks with email notifications, SLAs, and, upon approval, the data is posted directly from the web form to SAP via the authorized user's SAP credentials, ensuring SAP authorization protocols are followed. The need to manually correct data in advance of updating SAP was significantly reduced. And, due to end user adoption and ease of use, the solution was implemented company-wide without the need to take a phased roll-out approach.
The overall design included 9 contributing business groups, 200+ business rules, 133 form fields, and over 10,000 Characteristic drop-down combinations. The initial design was completed by a single developer over a six-month period. Halfway through the Material Master project a Vendor Master project was started in parallel. The Vendor Master solution went live in advance of the Material Master solution.
- Additional savings were realized by eliminating the 'push and pull' SharePoint workflow process and data quality was dramatically improved. The Material Master solution labor savings alone provided less than a 2.5-year return on investment. By adding Customer Master and Vendor Master solutions the ROI will accelerate to approximately 18 months. Drop downs work to enforce uniformity of input as they are not free form data entry. Updating them manually defeats this essential functionality.
- Even with more features than the other solutions evaluated, Decisions for SAP Solutions™ had the lowest overall cost of ownership (largely due to our server vs users licensing model).
Future development plans include a Customer Master solution, replacing SAP's Legacy System Migration Workbench (LSMW) mass upload solutions, and developing a Transform and Load solution to reduce the time required to migrate legacy system data into SAP as the company grows through acquisitions.