Strong growth uncovers where the challenges lie

Over the last few decades, CRAS has grown rapidly through dozens of acquisitions. However, the company’s systems and processes have not kept pace with the changes. Dirk Van Houwe, Chief Transformation Officer, explains how this became visible. “Our ERP platform was outdated, the quality and quantity of master data was too restricted, and we were still doing a lot of manual work on paper. For example, we ran a traditional inventory count, where we closed for a few days to count the stock. This wasn’t just error-prone, but also inefficient. Due to these limitations, we couldn’t get enough relevant information out of our systems. This was a problem, because our strong growth meant that we became increasingly decentralised as an organisation, with 17 sales outlets. If your processes and data are not working properly, everyone will see a different version of the truth and that causes you to lose control.”

Central control based on standards

As a result of the group’s growth, we developed a new strategy, says Van Houwe. “We set common goals, milestones and a desired future scenario. The roll-out of a new ERP platform formed part of this. Due to the many new sales outlets, we wanted to be able to manage the group more efficiently. It was important to enable people to work smoothly at local level, but there were a number of things we wanted to manage centrally, such as inventory management, procurement and pricing. We brought a partner on board to help us get there. We chose Ctac and the SAP S/4HANA cloud solution. What appealed to us was the fact that Ctac’s approach and the options provided by SAP enabled us to meet the majority of our needs using standard solutions. We also had a good feeling about Ctac. We noticed that they were eager to set out on an adventure with us.”

"We drew up joint objectives, milestones and our desired future scenario,"

Dirk Van Houwe, Chief Transformation Officer CRAS Woodgroup

Smarter working and better measurability

that have been extensively digitised, automated and standardised in SAP S/4HANA. Van Houwe: “We wanted to stay within the scope of standard solutions as far as possible to keep the system affordable, easy to maintain and scaleable. For example, it’s now relatively easy for us to add new stores. Thanks to SAP, we can do the same amount of work in less time. This frees up time for us to improve the quality of our work. What’s more, our processes are now more measurable and we have high-quality data about our organisation. That means we can fine-tune things better.”

“In SAP S/4HANA, our processes are more structured. This makes our job easier. For example, the manner in which tasks are assigned between employees is clearer. What’s more, during the coronavirus pandemic we were able to work from home easily because we could access our data in the cloud. I also see the financial benefits of the insights that S/4HANA brings us. We have more control of our costs and inventories, we can measure our margins far better, and we can improve centralised price management.” Good integration with our CRM system ensures optimal market insights.

"In SAP S/4HANA, our processes are better structured. That makes our work easier." Dirk Van Houwe, Chief Transformation Officer CRAS Woodgroup

A transformation journey with the business closely involved

Ctac held CRAS Woodgroup’s hand throughout the transformation journey: from the initial orientation and preparation, through to implementation, change management and the necessary support afterwards. Van Houwe: “This kind of collaboration is like a marriage; there are wonderful and difficult moments. Ctac is exceptional in the character they show when the going gets tough. They communicate clearly, take feedback to heart, and take the initiative and responsibility. They are always ready to work together to make things a success.”

According to Van Houwe, the early involvement of users up front is one of the success factors in this process. “We felt it was very important that the organisation bought into the transition, which is why we immediately put together a team with business product owners and key users who advised us and tested the solutions. We held workshops and gave users plenty of opportunities to have their say, because we were convinced this would improve the impact of the switch. And that was indeed the case. The level of our users’ knowledge increased, meaning they started to work more efficiently. They are proud of their own solution and organisation.”

Pursuing a consistent omnichannel strategy

In future, CRAS Woodgroup wants to keep building on SAP S/4HANA to offer a consistent customer experience across all online channels. Van Houwe: “With S/4HANA, we have a good foundation for service innovation. One of our priorities is to launch our own e-commerce platform. We want to move to an omnichannel strategy where the customer can choose whichever medium they prefer when they come into contact with us.  For one customer that will continue to be a representative, for the next it may be by phone, while for a steadily growing group it will be online. For example, we want to set up an online customer portal to improve digital communication with our customers. With SAP S/4HANA, we have a future-proof, integrated platform that makes this possible.”

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