“Skopos knows what is going on, both within the manufacturing industry and in internationally operating family businesses”
After more than twenty-five years of “loyal service”, the current ERP-system of Walraven Group is outdated. Not because the globally operating manufacturer and supplier of installation systems has stood still: on the contrary. However, to proof the organisation for the the future and enable further growth, a modern ERP system is necessary.
Together with Skopos, we carried out an analysis of the processes and information needs within Walraven companies. Central questions were: what is our current process? How do we want to work? And what do we need for this? We were able to leverage Skopos’ expertise, not only on a technical level, but also in terms of knowledge of modern ERP systems and the management of stakeholders.
The Walraven Group, which was founded over 77 years ago and started after the Second World War with producing pipe fastener, wants to keep growing. Over the years, the company has grown into a multinational. Our organisation’s business is changing, explains Marco Deterink, Enterprise Architect at Walraven. “The customer group is becoming increasingly international and we are working more and more with architects and installers to arrive at a total solution for construction projects. This means that as an organisation we have to get the complexity out of our fastening systems, make them scalable and enable them to exchange more data. The basic standardization is necessary to be able to offer a higher service level to our customers, to be able to grow and to be able to support future business models.”
Everyone on the same page
With a new ERP system, Walraven Group is not only able to cope with future growth, but also to respond better to the needs of its customers. Digital communication, configure to order: it would not, or only to a limited extend, be possible with the old software. “Initially we brought in Skopos to hear from an “outsider” how we were doing”, says Jan-Hendrik van Walraven, Group Business Analyst within the family business. “After all, strange eyes compel. We also wanted to get everyone on the same page: is a new information system our goal or do we have different ambitions? People do not want to talk about a new system; they prefer to work on smarter and better processes.”
With locations in dozens of countries, an organisation-wide assessment would take up a lot of time. “That is why we took our branch in England as an ”template”, as we both produce and sell there.“ Marco Deterink, Jan-Hendrik van Walraven and Gerrit Vixseboxse of Skopos flew to the UK, a total of seven times, to map out how people worked and wanted to work there.
The pilot in the United Kingdom proved to be a resounding success. Van Walraven: “Especially because we let the employees analyse their processes and the internal cooperation themselves.” The method of Skopos and the resulting UK blueprint pleased Walraven’s managers and employees. Together with Jelle Hollema of Skopos, Walraven decided to draft up a blueprint of all the branches in Europe. Van Walraven: “We then brought the representatives from all countries to the Netherlands. First of all to find out what their joint processes were. To ensure that the warehousing management in for example Belgium, does not deviate from the working methods in France and Germany. Only then did we start thinking in terms of harmonised processes. The various subgroups, like finance, production and supply chain, were merged. We drew up the Walraven blueprint with the help of specialistic BPM software, an information-system that helps to design and manage processes.”
From blueprint to supplier
After an intensive process of internal process and information analysis, Walraven Group and Skopos finalized the European blueprint. A single document to which everyone at Walvaren has contributed and also supports, from the work floor to the management and shareholders. The board and management still show a great deal of commitment to this project every day. Jan-Hendrik of Walraven: “That is what you want.”
In addition to this analysis, Walraven, together with Skopos, drew up a business case for ERP. A document that identifies and quantifies the benefits, costs and risks of ERP. Walraven and Skopos paid special attention to specify the contribution of ERP to the business strategy.In addition, the creation of ownership for this business case was an important point of attention for Walraven’s line managers.
Shortlist and weighting factors
The blueprint has improved the sense of urgency for ERP renewal and resulted in a list of requirements for the subsequent steps. Van Walraven: “Management recognised that the new processes and information needs are impossible to meet with Walraven Group’s current ERP system.” Walraven and Skopos then carried out a market scan to find out which parties offered what solutions. From standard systems to solutions of low code suppliers. From cloud based to on premise. The supplier of the old ERP system for the Walraven Group was also included in the selection. “In the end, we were able to reduce a long list of potential parties to a shortlist of four companies.”
To prevent the Walraven Group from becoming overwhelmed by all the possibilities during the demo phase, an objective measuring instrument with weighting factors was developed. But non-technical aspects were also considered. Deterink: “What kind of supplier is it? Are they active worldwide, or more local? Do they appear reliable and are there enough references?” This resulted in a preferred supplier, with whom Walraven started in depth discussions. “Here we heavily relied on the experience of Skopos: they know exactly where you have to set priorities and what you have to keep asking questions about.”
Just as the suppliers needs a fit with Walraven, Skopos has to fit in with the family business in terms of working methods. Deterink: “We want consultants with whom we work, to know our industry, to be in line with our core values, based on the long-term value creation and to know how it works within family businesses. Skopos therefore suits us better than larger consultancy firms. As a result, Skopos was able to provide us with excellent support in the management of all our stakeholders; to get everyone on the same page and to get everyone on board.” This has resulted in a cooperation in which both parties learn from each other. The independence of Skopos is also an advantage in the eyes of Deterink and Van Walraven. “They have no alliances with suppliers and are strictly independent. We like that very much, especially for the long-term. Not for a moment did we have the idea that Skopos favoured a certain party, but that it really is about who fits best with our architecture and business culture.
Contracting and implementation
A glance at the future shows us that Walraven still has a multi-year project ahead of themselves. Deterink: “At the moment we are in the final phase of contracting the preferred supplier. But we are also busy internally, drawing up an implementation plan. Gerrit Vixseboxse of Skopos in particular is now helping us with this.” Implementing an ERP system is like open-heart surgery, so Walraven will have to free up the necessary resources. “Some of our employees will be working on this almost full-time in the coming years, so we may have to start recruiting people from the outside again. We are now working hard on these topics.” How long does Walraven expect it will take? Jan-Hendrik van Walraven: “I am an optimist, but when everything is ready in three years, we will be very happy!”
Do you recognize yourself in this story? Speak freely with Gerrit Vixseboxse. Discover where your opportunities and possibilities lie. Get the most out of your company together with Skopos.