Plant growing in lightbulb [shutterstock: 326103452]

Plant growing in lightbulb [shutterstock: 326103452]

ERP support: A bigger budget for growth and innovation

For most companies, ERP provides the backbone for all their business activities. To enable continuous, productive work, the ERP components must be kept up to date, and errors and problems must be quickly and effectively resolved.

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This means that efficient ERP software support is almost as important for companies as the software from Walldorf itself. In addition to support from SAP, independent support such as that provided by Rimini Street is now available on the market. The examples of Univar and Sympatex show the advantages that internationally successful companies can gain from this.

The Rimini Street support model allows companies to not only reduce their yearly expenditure on support and maintenance by half, but also to adhere to taxation and regulatory requirements – a particular challenge for companies that operate internationally due to numerous differences between administrative regimes across the globe. Almost 1,000 customers currently benefit from Rimini Street’s support services, including chemical specialist Univar and German textile manufacturer Sympatex.

High value, low price

Univar has increased its level of support and now saves 50 per cent on its maintenance costs. In mid-2014, chemical specialist Univar decided to switch to the Rimini Street independent support model. As one of the leading companies worldwide involved in the distribution of industrial and speciality chemicals, this U.S. company delivers products from its comprehensive portfolio to almost 115,000 customers. In 2013, Univar generated sales of 10.3 billion U.S. dollars. Its network of more than 260 subsidiaries in North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America form the core of the company. Univar is also a key player on the international market.

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As a large multinational company, Univar depends on the smooth operation of its SAP infrastructure. In order to continue to guarantee operational efficiency, software maintenance costs for ECC 5.0 and 6.0 systems were increasing steadily – this was the reason for Univar’s decision to consider alternative support possibilities. “As a global company, we constantly strive to gain added value for every dollar we spend. For me, this means winning back control of our ERP software schedule and optimising our investment in SAP software”, says Erik Viens, chief information officer for Univar.

Univar compared several options in order to reduce the costs incurred as far as possible. Due to its attractive pricing and high level of service, they eventually decided on Rimini Street. Last but not least, the references which were available for Rimini Street convinced Univar of the performance of their model – “The excellent reputation of Rimini Street in the sector, and its ability to put us in contact with other CIOs in order to exchange experience, confirmed my decision to switch to independent support”, says Erik Viens.

By switching to Rimini Street support, Univar was able to halve its support and maintenance costs, not least because support for customer customisations is included in the Rimini Street maintenance model at no extra charge.

As a result, internal employees and developers, who previously had to provide support for these individual customisations, gained time to devote towards value-creating activities. In addition, Rimini Street optimises interoperability with the rest of the IT infrastructure, enhancing the performance of the system – support requests due to conflicts within the IT infrastructure have been significantly reduced.

A personal ERP butler

As part of its exclusive 24/7 service model, a personal primary support engineer (PSE) is available to Univar every day of the year. They provide a highly qualified primary contact, which means that no more resources are required for maintenance work, or additional staff needed due to inefficient, complicated support processes and measures. Finally, Rimini Street guarantees support for the current, stable software version for at least fifteen years.

Univar is therefore able to continue to use its current system, avoiding the updates which would have been necessary in order to maintain support for the SAP system.

Better, faster and more proficient

“Since we switched from SAP to Rimini Street, our support system has significantly improved, and my team has benefited from comprehensive, fast and competent responses from our primary support engineer”, says Erik Viens, summing up his experience. “Even more importantly, I am now able to invest the significant savings we have made directly into projects that are important for our business. Not many providers are able to keep their promises so reliably, and I am very happy to be able to say that Rimini Street has exceeded our expectations.”

Univar used their freed-up budget to promote several projects that are critical to their business, including initiatives in customer loyalty, customer management and business intelligence. In addition, the company invested in its e-commerce platforms in order to optimise their customers’ user experience. Univar benefited in many ways, including improved competitiveness in the global market.

Everything under control at Sympatex

Even when tax laws change, textile specialist Sympatex continues to lead the way. Apart from a significant reduction in the budget required for support, companies can gain further advantages from switching to an independent maintenance model. In particular, companies which operate internationally are frequently faced with the challenge of complying with specific taxation and regulatory legislation; in addition, regulations concerning salaries and payroll, accounting, fixed assets and supply chain management are subject to constant change.

This issue was faced by Sympatex Holding, an international textile manufacturer with headquarters in Unterföhring near Munich. Founded in 1986, the company produces high-tech functional materials for clothing, shoes, accessories, workwear and technical applications and is one of the world’s leading providers of high-tech functional textiles. With its current workforce of around 300, the Sympatex Group operates in 18 countries and serves customers such as Pierre Cardin and Tommy Hilfiger with innovative products based on modern and environmentally friendly textile processing technology.

Because of this strong global presence, Sympatex has to deal with many tax and legal regulations as part of its daily business activities – both in Germany and other international markets. As interruptions to production operations could bring the company to a standstill, it is vital that the textile specialist can rely on the smooth operation of its business-critical SAP system.

ECC 6.0 support

Since 2010, Rimini Street has provided maintenance services for the company’s central SAP EEC 6.0 system, which is deployed to operate key company divisions such as financial accounting, controlling, materials management, quality assurance, sales and distribution, and travel management. In addition to reducing maintenance costs by 50 per cent, Sympatex can now reliably fulfil all national and international regulatory requirements, thanks to Rimini Street.

The standard support programme provided by Rimini Street also includes the Rimini Street Tax Engine, an ISO 9001:2008 certified tax aid that supports customers in complying with statutory and regulatory requirements. With this support, companies of all sizes can ensure that their applications are customised according to the most recent legal developments, and that they are compliant with all essential regulations.

In order to ensure timely provision of the relevant updates, Rimini Street employs their own expert team, consisting of experienced lawyers and legal experts, who cooperate directly with state bodies. In this way, changes for almost 200 countries can be identified and analysed, and the required updates can be prepared – since 2005, Rimini Street has already delivered over 85,000 of these updates.

The textile manufacturer was affected by a major change around 2013 when German lawmakers passed the Law to Amend and Simplify Company Taxation and Travel Expense Tax Laws, which came into force on 1 January 2014. Due to these changes, the expense management module in SAP needed to undergo significant adjustments – changes which Sympatex was able to implement in an efficient and timely manner with the help of Rimini Street. Rimini Street provided the company with all required code changes and SAP table updates, and also made available documents detailing the necessary adjustments to the internal processes used to track travel costs, accommodation, meals and expenses incurred abroad as required by the changes to the law.

“I was very impressed by Rimini Street’s meticulous approach to any changes to the law”, emphasises Hasso Ercelebi, Symantex chief information officer. “I appreciated that Rimini Street tackled the matter in such depth and willingly engaged in open dialogue with us about the correct interpretation of the – at times, rather vague – wording of the law. Rimini Street made every effort to ensure that every detail was right, and to offer us a sound solution.”

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