The individual standard - a paradox? In any case, a blind alley when ‘customising’ and ‘standard’ do not relate to each other. Industry specific modules that can be integrated into the standard provide the solution.
‘The Röchling Group’ stands for the highest competence in the field of plastics. The company manufactures thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics with the most advanced manufacturing and finishing processes and the modernest production processes. The group of companies has two divisions; the Automotive Plastics division, which supplies automobile manufacturers and system suppliers worldwide with technologically sophisticated plastics applications, and the High Performance Plastics division whose concerns range from semi-finished products, through profiles and cast parts, to mechanically processed and finished parts produced by laser sintering. The Röchling Group is represented in 60 locations in 20 countries and, in 2012 with 7,300 employees, generated sales of 1.2 billion euros.
In 1998, business software from Navision, now Microsoft Dynamics NAV, was introduced at Röchling Engineering Plastics KG in Haren on the Ems. “Today, with 340 users, we are one of the largest Dynamics NAV users and have, in the last 15 years, amassed a lot of experience” says Andreas Paschke, Head of Organisational Development. Of the 650 employees there is not one person whose work is not based in any way on the ERP system. “With our system we can map the whole enterprise,” reports Paschke.
With the introduction, the employees were promised that they could also continue to use the outdated isolated applications but it was soon clear that this lead to a developmental dead-end. Too many adaptations created a highly individualised system which although on the one hand was highly productive, on the other hand it could not be updated. Paschke explains: “We had a ratio of 80/20, so only 20 percent standard.”
Help came in the form of the latest standard software Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which replaced the highly customised products. One particular goal in this was to reverse the ratio of adaptations to the standard to 20/80 instead of 80/20. “In a situation like this it pays to work with a long-standing IT partner," says Paschke. Röchling had many years of positive experience working with Microsoft Partner COSMO CONSULT, a manufacturing and supplier industry specialist and project oriented service provider. But as Paschke also says: “If a project is to work, then the client must also take half of the responsibility.” Here, partnership and co-operation as equals are required.
Initially there was only a partial implementation, for wages and salaries, which worked smoothly - as did the following modules implemented for contract manufacturing, process manufacturing, workflow, quality management and supplier evaluation, as well as a graphical control centre for the process manufacturing. Paschke clearly describes the first experiences with the new version: “Imagine you have 10 year old technology in your car and you change to a modern, high-tech vehicle. The difference in the I.T. is really striking.”
According to Paschke, Dynamics NAV is an exceptionally flexible software which is able to be easily adapted to particular individual needs. However, there again lies the danger of too much inhouse programming. That is why he is happy with the certificated and up-dateable branch solutions developed through experience with Cosmo Consult, through which the targeted ratio of 20/80 in higher functionality has been achieved.
Also, Paschke wants a good two years preparation time for the next upgrade. He emphasises how important it is to have a partner that knows about the business processes and that has the specific industry solutions. “COSMO CONSULT has gained experience with us for years and has constantly developed Dynamics NAV modules specifically for us. So, in coming projects, we want to achieve the realistic target of 10/90.”