Those who work with software, or perhaps even develop software themselves, set special standards when selecting their business software. This is how the engineering service provider ISKO introduced its first company-wide ERP system.
Munich-based ISKO engineers AG sees its core competence in the virtual development and security of products. The company was founded in October 1996 as a 2-man startup in Munich. After its successful establishment in the German automotive industry, the company steadily developed into an integrated CAE solution provider. Today, ISKO engineers employs around 100 highly qualified staff at its sites in Munich, Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm, Rehau and Brasov in Romania. In addition to the automotive industry, companies in the fields of machinery and plant engineering, energy, electronics, consumer goods, process engineering and the aerospace industry are among its clients.
“The three overlapping colors of our logo symbolize our three core competencies," explains engineering graduate Johann Eisenreich, Head of Engineering & Consulting IT. Blue stands for product engineering and virtual product security, the roots of the company. Over the last few years, the requirements for process automation in the CAE sector have increased, meaning that IT issues have also become more important. The color green stands for this newly created area of development and distribution of software specifically for the CAE sector. Finally, yellow symbolizes consulting, which is in demand, for example, for the introduction of software in the CAE area or in process optimization.
Innovative projects in particular require extensive application and development knowledge combined with a high level of IT and process understanding; ISKO sees itself as an overarching developer and consultant for the optimization and automation of processes in virtual product development. The use of digital high technologies in the CAE sector has therefore also been on the agenda in recent years. The result is highly qualified engineers collaborating with IT specialists on software solutions for the developers of tomorrow. SIMuSPACE, an in-house simulation data management system, and the application of data mining methods and deep learning algorithms, integrated into simulation apps, are tools for tomorrow’s engineers that ISKO is set to launch in the future.
As recently as 2015, the internal IT situation was characterized by numerous tools and standalone solutions that had emerged over the last 20 years. But these systems were quite simply overwhelmed by the rapid growth of the company. The projects became not only more numerous, but also more complex. Many problems were difficult to solve with the existing programs, and obtaining an overview of the projects was time-consuming. “Our self-developed project solution for time tracking and controlling had to be urgently replaced by a modern and future-proof standard solution. The circumstances called for a new and holistic solution," recalls Eisenreich.
To begin with, the internal processes were documented in a so-called process map. Then about eight ERP providers were selected using market overviews and publications in diverse media, whose products were then assessed based on effectiveness and suitability for the company. In this phase, the wheat was already separated from the chaff. “In addition to functional requirements such as a modern financial accounting system, there were also technical criteria. We didn't want to go down the cloud route, since we operate our own data center and cloud," explains Eisenreich. Finally, we had to ensure that the project was always the centerpiece of all activities. Ongoing costing as well as integrated time tracking and personnel administration were also among the requirements.
After filtering all proposals according to these criteria, only two ERP systems were left. Since the physical proximity of the IT partner was important to ISKO, the first step now was to find out more about the providers in question on the Internet. For the Microsoft Dynamics NAV presentation, the Nuremberg branch of the COSMO CONSULT Group, Europe's leading Microsoft Dynamics partner, was chosen. “In this phase we already noticed the high competence of the COSMO CONSULT consultants, with whom we later held many intensive meetings. Our decision to go with for Microsoft Dynamics NAV was easy after this," says Eisenreich. After the start of the project in May 2016, the go live date took place without a hitch in January 2017, in no small part due to the optimally selected "Sure Step” project method. The first goal, to provide a full service – from quoting to billing – using the new software, was successfully achieved in February, thanks to the COSMO CONSULT cc|project module in particular.
The new system now offers business processes, such as quoting or invoicing, which are identical for all branches. Since the cc|dms document management system based on Microsoft SharePoint is also part of the ERP solution, document management is also clearly defined. “This is perfect for documents created in the ERP system. In the future we want to extend SharePoint and turn it into a central corporate platform," announces Eisenreich. In addition to central data storage, company information can then also be prepared there.
On top of personnel time capturing and operating data acquisition, NAPA personnel administration and applicant management have also been introduced. The first business figures are already being analyzed with Power Bi and made available to various users. The many possibilities associated with this are currently still being explored and the necessary mechanisms and processes in development, but: “making intensive use of the various evaluation options is one of our main goals," promises Eisenreich. In addition to the newly gained transparency of all business processes, the integrated company platform is the biggest highlight for him: “Whenever we plan something, we first ask ourselves how the problem should be perceived in the context of the ERP and where on the platform it belongs. Because it’s available to everyone and offers many opportunities that we are still not using today. Apart from the many other functionalities, this is the most important thing for me - especially in view of future development." The success of the project and the excellent cooperation with the IT partner COSMO CONSULT also confirms that he is on the right track: “We now have the right foundation to optimally support our company and its continued development."