The introduction of a new ERP system does not always produce the desired results. If a company's IT partner does not have the right expertise in terms of solutions and the industry, the IT partner must be replaced in order to ensure sustainable project success.
The Jeremias Group based in Wassertrüdingen in Bavaria has its origins in a company for the restoration of chimneys that was founded in 1970. In the Jeremias GmbH, which was established in 1984, the company started to manufacture the stainless steel pipes it required on its own. Today, the group is a globally active manufacturer of stainless steel chimneys and modular flue systems. It has seven production sites located around the world -- in Germany, Poland, Spain, Russia, the Czech Republic and the United States. There are nine national and international commercial offices and numerous sales partners. This allows Jeremias to offer over 80 different CE-certified systems for residential and commercial applications as well as free-standing steel chimneys of up to three meters in diameter.
Maxim Munvez, Team Leader Global Pojects, explained: "The individual production plants also produce for the international market, but are especially geared to local requirements because many special regulations are linked strongly to particular countries." The factory in Poland is specialized in standard chimney elements which it supplies for the entire group, while the German branches mainly produce individual special orders. While the Jeremiah Group has specialized in the B2B sector, for example on sales to construction companies, the wholly owned subsidiary SES (Stefan Engelhardt Schornsteine), which was founded in 1992, focuses on industrial chimney solutions such as those for power plants and combined heat and power systems. The entire group has more than 1,000 employees and has approximately 100 million euros in annual sales.
When the Polish branch was completely rebuilt in 2006, the company's management decided to use the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP system as enterprise software. "We saw this system as a future-proof system that also covered the requirements of the Jeremias Group for the most part", said Munvez. Just one year later, the system was also introduced in Germany. However, the standard solution had to be modified for the contract manufacturer SES to a large extent, so that in the end Jeremiah and SES were using completely different processes and the adjustments differed greatly from the standard Dynamics NAV. "As the company continued to grow, we realized that our IT partner did not offer the expertise in solutions that we needed. Finally, we wanted to implement solutions that made it possible for us to continue to grow unhindered and that we could also transfer to other locations," said Munvez.
On the basis of nearly 100 pages of specifications, the company tested a number of Microsoft partners and heard presentations of the different solutions. "Our final decision fell on the COSMO CONSULT Group. We felt they understood us best and gave the best advice. Their solutions also corresponded most closely to our wishes," says Munvez. The COSMO CONSULT Group provides business software solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics. A specialist in the manufacturing industry, project-oriented service providers and the supply industry, it is Europe's largest Microsoft ERP partner. In the end, it simply had more to offer. "The contract manufacturing solution with its construction module and its specific functionalities primarily benefits SES. But we are always staying within the standard and have thus reduced the adjustments to a minimum. Everyone can work with that", says Munvez, giving an example.
Because of the high complexity and individuality of the two companies, it was decided to implement the new solution first in one and then in the other. Almost four years ago, Dynamics NAV 2009 R2 and in particular the COSMO CONSULT module cc|configure-to-order were implemented first at SES using a separate, stand-alone database. Directly afterwards, the project was implemented at Jeremiah, where Dynamics NAV 2013 was used with other COSMO CONSULT modules such as cc|text module to provide an individual text structure. "These tools support our processes even more and optimize them further," says Munvez. In the final step, both databases were then merged again. Due to its great complexity and difficult challenges, the entire project required over two and a half years before the unified solution could be launched without problems in May 2014.
With the industry modules of COSMO CONSULT, which are all certified by Microsoft, integrated into the Dynamics NAV standard Jeremias today operates within the standard more than 90 percent of the time. The rest is from modules that the IT department has built itself. Especially at SES processes are now much more efficiently structured. Previously it was not easily possible to access information on times or on goods that had been either consumed or produced. There used to be no connection between construction and the ERP system. Today a tool transfers the construction drawings easily to Dynamics NAV. "We have achieved a transparency and efficiency that we did not have before. Given the seamless transition from a sales order to a construction contract and then to the manufacturing order we can always see the status of the project," said Munvez in summary.
Above all, the new ERP system is a foundation for the future. "If a new branch office is founded, we can now implement an international solution that is well thought out and will be developed further by the provider in the future. And we can plan our investments clearly, since we use a standard that does not require extensive adjustments", said Munvez confidently, adding, "through our structuring processes we also have a flexibility we did not have before." The integration of construction into the NAV processes has helped achieve this. Making an industrial chimney requires drawings to be created and BOMs to be generated from several hundred items. The structure is produced in corresponding detail and then transferfed one-to-one into the ERP system. That is where the production orders are produced, which in turn may contain multiple production orders for various parts. "We save many hours on every project and the error rate is practically zero now," says Munvez.
The inquiry management of COSMO CONSULT also contributes to project success. For the different components of articles, Jeremias and SES work with many components suppliers. In the inquiry management system, it is now possible to record products for which a price inquiry should be made. With a few clicks, the inquiry manager produces the request and sends it to all desired suppliers. It captures incoming offers as well, producing a matrix showing what prices suppliers offer for specific products. Several other tools such as cc|mobile solution are also in use. Given of the previous successes, further standard solutions are to be used in the near future. Here Munvez is thinking of a manufacturing execution system to capture production data and a master data management solution such as cc|intercompany to improve master data management between the branches as well as an expansion of the product configurator.
Over time, as many branches as possible are to be integrated into Microsoft Dynamics NAV. To achieve this, a blueprint solution with Dynamics NAV 2016 is being designed. This will then serve as a foundation for current and new branches, for example in France, the United States and the Czech Republic. There are currently concrete plans for branches in Croatia, Russia and the United States. In these endeavors the company is again counting on the support of COSMO CONSULT. Despite COSMO CONSULT´s rapid expansion in recent years, the Microsoft partner is not yet represented everywhere, but it still takes on international projects as a general contractor responsible for the project on the partner side. Maxim Munvez praises the cooperation with his company's IT partner and characterizes the work together as a relationship that rewards consistent maintenance: "The projects that we have done together were extremely complex and lasted several years. When it mattered, we always got the support we needed. In summary, we now know that we have chosen the right service provider. "