When after twelve years Sächsische Sandsteinwerke GmbH, a sandstone works in Saxony, brought its ERP system up to date, the focus was on being future-proof. At the same time, the project team managed to reduce the level of customization and the number of external Excel calculations. Today, the company benefits from efficient processes, more transparency, and a flexible software solution that can be used to easily meet future requirements.
"There are many companies that can implement the technical side of an ERP project. But there are only a few that we can also concretely imagine going through such a project with. The chemistry between us and COSMO CONSULT was right from the very beginning."
Johannes Roßrucker, Managing Director of Sächsische Sandsteinwerke GmbH.
The roots of Sächsische Sandsteinwerke GmbH go back to the late 19th century. At that time there were about 600 quarries in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Today, the company still operates half a dozen. The 83 employees generate most of the company’s revenues with order work and in the project business. Sandstone from Pirna has been used, for example, in the Dresden Frauenkirche and the castles of Dresden, Potsdam, Berlin and Braunschweig. In addition to this, the company has a fixed delivery range, for example for garden design.
For more than twelve years Sächsische Sandsteinwerke had been working with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The outdated enterprise software ran under the discontinued operating system Windows XP. Therefore, there was a need for action on security grounds alone. "Dynamics NAV has proven itself over the years. We wanted a modern solution with better process support, but did not want to reinvent the wheel. That is why we were open to an update to the current program version," remembers Johannes Roßrucker, Managing Director of Sächsische Sandsteinwerke. This was especially true because alternative solutions from the stone industry are more oriented to craftsman workshops than industrial companies. Some company-specific features such as the handling of semi-finished products did not fit into those systems. Another advantage: when merely performing an update, employees do not have to get used to a completely new software solution. However, the company did take the opportunity to look for a local software partner. The COSMO CONSULT Group, Europe's leading Microsoft Dynamics partner, was chosen. "There are many companies that can implement the technical side of such a project. But there are only a few that we can also concretely imagine going through such a project with. The chemistry between us and COSMO CONSULT was right from the very beginning." In addition, there are factors such as size and performance," explains Roßrucker. Reference visits and discussions with other COSMO CONSULT customers gave the project team the necessary confidence in the decision.
One challenge for the implementation was the high level of customization of the old system. The processes were sometime far from the standard, which made the migration more difficult. In order to reliably identify the problem areas, the key users first documented their workflows in detail. In the context of a GAP analysis, COSMO CONSULT’s consultants then compared the actual situation with the current software standard. Subsequently, the project team worked together to decide whether it would be the operational organization or the software that would be adapted. They wanted individual adaptation requirements to be as small as possible. "The experts at COSMO CONSULT were again and again successful in using the standard to fulfill company-specific requirements. As a result, today we have a future-proof system that we can update comparatively easily", said the Managing Director. A good example is our rough slab management. In this case, incoming stones from the quarry are registered in order to follow the movements of the stock until further processing. Up to now, an individual extension was required. Now the project team uses the existing batch tracking: When stored, each rough slab receives a fixed, clearly identifiable batch number. This means that it is always possible to track where the slab is being stored, which project it is assigned to, and when it has been processed.
Until now, the order calculation had been carried out outside the system in Excel. Because the new program version is much more flexible, the calculation has been fully integrated into Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It is now accessible to all employees and can be found more quickly. You can also process project tenders directly in the ERP system: Many construction projects are tendered electronically and put online. Because an appropriate interface was missing in the old system, the documents had to be downloaded manually and the individual items manually entered into the project calculation. "Tenders often run to more than 100 pages. The many manual work steps were therefore time-consuming and error-prone," says Roßrucker. Today, the requirements are transferred directly into the calculation, filled with data and returned to the portal.
The launch of the new system ran without a hitch. The COSMO CONSULT consultants, who were on site just in case, were able to leave the first day. "Of course not everything worked perfectly. After all, in a test system, you cannot rehearse all situations beforehand. But the issues were not serious and could be handled by remote maintenance. We were, at any rate, able to work from the very first minute," emphasizes Roßrucker. Interfaces exist for DATEV's financial accounting software and external production planning. The external production planning interface takes production orders from Microsoft Dynamics NAV and later reports the production times to the ERP system.
It was possible for the number of external tables and systems to be significantly reduced with the new program version. As a result, the administrative costs and the risk of errors were reduced. Relevant information is thus available more quickly - and quality simultaneously improved. "We used to manage project times in Excel. Today we record them directly in the ERP system. Now we can access information about the amount of working time for a particular order with one click of the mouse. If we also add the associated costs, budget development can also be tracked transparently," explains the managing director. Equally important is the flexibility that is gained, he said, adding that although it used to be the case that almost every change request had to be programmed with great effort, the cc|formatted documents module could now be used to customize reports and evaluations without that effort.
Sächsische Sandsteinwerke is completely satisfied with the project implementation of the COSMO CONSULT Group. "There was of course some things that did not go smoothly. The reaction times, however, were always short so that we always arrived at solutions quickly," emphasizes Roßrucker. Now that the company software is on sound footing, he is already planning to expand the system: In future, rough slabs will be provided with bar codes. With mobile devices, the employees can then document stock movements with a simple scan and better track the path of the stone through the value-added process.