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Interview with Sascha Rauhe, the CEO Americas & Managing Director of AICOMP/VCXI Group, an SAP Partner and leading innovator in product configuration, online and cloud ERP solutions and services. Their people know how to configure; finished products as well as ERP solutions. They practice what they preach - the AICOMP/VCXI Group is a SAP Business ByDesign customer in currently four countries.

How has the Cloud grown with AICOMP/VCXI Group? What was your first interaction?

Since 2000, AICOMP/VCXI Group was an SAP ERP on-premise firm, using SAP's ECC (or R/3, how most people stillcall it) for FI/CO/HR, plus a series of satellite software as well as some CRM and Project-/Expense Management cloud solutions to run our Consulting and Software development business. Three years ago we've received a presentation about SAP BusinessByDesign (ByD). Even with not all country versions available back then for our Group of companies, we decided right away that this would be the solution for all of our administrative needs. As one of the first companies worldwide we've implemented a complete SAP ByD footprint with four country versions in the beginning of 2011 (Germany, Switzerland, USA and Austria) for all of our 6 subsidiaries.

What Cloud solutions are you currently using?

Like I mentioned before, all of our subsidiaries in Europe and North America use the complete SAP ByD solution; incl. CRM, Invoicing, Project Management, Travel and Expense Management, Procurement, Intracompany Processes; Finance, Controlling, Asset and License Management. We use it online as well as mobile from our Smartphones. AICOMP/VCXI Group's strongest and most precious resources are our people; and with SAP ByD we finally have a tool that accommodate all service requirements our business has to offer.

What has changed?

  • Availability – Wow, it's there, wherever you are. You had to run to the airport and there was no time to fill out you time sheet while you were at the office/ with the customer/ in a meeting/ training session/…? Just do it from your phone, in the cab, at the airport or even in the plane.
  • Control – With more than 50 employees, AICOMP/VCXI Group needs its Senior Management to be in control of the company's most vital processes, immediately and real-time. With SAP ByD's built-in approval and automation our leadership can easily manage and control their administrative tasks.
  • Collaboration50+ employees, 6 headquarters worldwide and a  global project staffing strategy - all regional entities of our venture collaborate on a very granular level- this high demand of collaboration requires a solution that can handle projects and processes without a huge transactional effort. With SAP ByD we're able to handle our complex inter-company relationships without creating an administrative nightmare; lean and easy to manage.

Lessons learned?

  • Motivation to change – Even for us consultants and developers it was a serious switch. We were all of the sudden in the same position like our customers; shifting from the system there were used to to something completely new. Everyone in the company, from Senior Management to Apprentice has to be motivated for that switch. Communication and constant information is the most important during the implementation as well as a clear set of rules and guidelines.
  • Training – When we talk about SAP ByDesign, yes, we talk about a cloud solution; but, we're still talking about an integrated ERP solution. Once the fine-tuning is done and your business processes are defined; you have to live by it. Discipline is essential to ensure a smooth running of your day-by-day operations. In order to ensure that everyone in the company has to receive a proper training. So if you invest in a cloud solution like ByD, don't try to save a couple of bucks on a proper training.

What's next?

When we started implementing SAP Business ByDesign 3 years ago, "cloud-based ERP solutions" was a mere buzz word. There were some cloud providers that covered partial business requirements like CRM, HR or Logistic Execution, but SAP ByD was the only fully integrated ERP cloud solution. We were convinced three years ago that this would be the right move to switch. Yes, we would do it again. With our own implementation of SAP ByD we believe that cloud-based ERP solutions are going to become the next fundamental paradigm switch in IT.

Therefore we decided to use the momentum we've created by implementing SAP ByD for ourselves and invested in extending our current SAP R/3 service offerings to SAP's cloud based solutions.

We believe in SAP as the front runner of ERP solutions, both on-premise and on-demand. With Successfactor's BizX, SAP Customer on Demand, SAP Financials on Demand and Ariba, SAP is well equipped for the future "battle in the clouds". We have trained, experienced and certified personnel that is ready to spread the success of SAP's Cloud Business to others. In Germany we're part of an SAP ByD partner network that ranks amongst the Top 3 resellers worldwide. In North America we just qualified as a value added reseller for the US market; and we're going to invest in establishing a network of ByD professionals to built a common base of SAP Cloud users.

Why all that? Because we started to use it ourselves - and we got really excited about it.

SAP Cloud People Blog Series: how the Cloud is affecting the day to day lives of people.

2013-03-11 : Cloud People: Jesus Hoyos, Social CRM consultant, speaker, and independent analyst for Latin America

2013-03-01 : Cloud People: Bodo Klečka, BOA Group

2013-02-25 : Cloud People: Luke Marson, Gavdi Group

2013-02-11 : Cloud People: Mark Ridley,

2013-01-23 : Cloud People: Sascha Rauhe, AICOMP/VCXI Group

2013-01-18 : Cloud People: Nils Stock, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies

2013-01-15 : Cloud People: Brian Kinion, SuccessFactors

2012-12-27 : Cloud People: Alan Fang, ERP Logic Cloud People: Alan Fang, ERP Logic

2012-12-10 : Cloud People: Paul Nursey, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)