Abaco Consulting, a leading company in the implementation and maintenance of SAP information systems, was chosen by the ACA Group to convert the existing SAP R/3 system to the latest S/4Hana product, as it has a set of new ones functionalities regarding the financial, logistical and construction management areas.
Founded in 1982, the ACA Group began by gaining a reputation in the Portuguese market in the execution of projects for communication routes and infrastructure, but quickly expanded its activity to the construction of buildings and special works. However, in 2003, it decided to go abroad and start its internationalization process, and is currently present in three continents – Europe, Africa and South America.
Faced with this reality, the Group realized that Information Technologies are an important ally in supporting the business and, in this sense, the project started with Abaco Consulting. According to Fernando Correia, Corporate Information Systems Director of the ACA Group, “this project represents a firm response by the ACA Group to the new challenges we face in these times of pandemic. Thus, from an early age, the goal of upgrading its ERP system was defined in order to digitally transform and empower processes and procedures, together with the introduction of technological tools that allow for an evolution and growing competitiveness of the organization”. He goes on to explain that “the fact that Construction (the Group’s core business) is not, by tradition, one of the most technological sectors, represented one of the greatest challenges to be faced”, he says.
For these reasons, the choice fell on SAP S4/HANA, which was implemented by Abaco Consulting and which intended, in this first project, to guarantee the conversion to a new technological platform that would not cause any negative impact on the business, in terms of system unavailability , loss of information history and loss of functionality. Given that the Group has several units across the globe with specifics in terms of location and line of business, it was essential to articulate internal teams and other partners so that the Downtime period was reduced to just one weekend.
“With regard to the adoption of the new SAP S/4HANA, by carrying out this Upgrade, the ACA Group began to benefit from an advanced management tool that covers everything from more transactional processes to top management decision-making support. In addition to aiding internal management, SAP S4/HANA is increasingly a technological tool aimed at an inter-company connection approach, promoting “connectivity” with business processes of other organizations and thus accelerating the joint response to the market” , says Ricardo Almeida, Project Manager at Abaco Consulting.
Another benefit is, undoubtedly, the increased speed in accessing information, which results from the in-memory database technology of SAP S/4HANA, which allows the ACA Group to obtain information for decision-making in real- team. Lastly, we highlight the mobility benefit that comes with implementing SAP Fiori.
For Ricardo Almeida, “in a SAP implementation of this dimension, with this complexity, there are always challenges inherent to the implementation itself, not least because it took place, in the middle of a pandemic, with the Ábaco team in a 100% remote regime. However, the first Go-Live date for the S4/HANA conversion project was scheduled for January 2021, but given the need to close logistical movements until the day before the Go-Live, associated with the fact that this activity makes it impossible to Traditional year-end procedure, Abaco and Grupo ACA decided to bring the project forward by 1 month. And this was the biggest challenge, since this decision forced a reassessment of the entire planning, rescheduling possible parallel tasks and increasing the number of resources allocated to the project, as well as the risk level of its final delivery (since the initial planning presented was already quite adjusted). However, with the enormous dedication and communication skills of the Abaco teams and the ACA Group, it was possible to deliver the project within the estimated timing”, he explains.
The project then ran for eight months at the height of the pandemic, having started at the end of April 2020 and concluded in December of the same year. Thus, the new system has been in full operation since December 7, 2020. The conversion of the Productive took place on the weekend prior to that date, after tests were carried out on the main processes in the different regions, which was necessary to ensure the success of the project.