Case Study Published in “Construct Magazine” (Portuguese Magazine for the EC&O Industry), Number 431, Pages 12-13
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 2006, it decided to go abroad and start its internationalization process, and is currently present in three continents – Europe, Africa and South America.
Early on, the Group realized that Information Technologies are an important ally in supporting the business. And proof of this was that, at the end of 2015, with the implementation of SAP in the ACA Group, the Digital Transformation process began to take shape, having at that time as main objectives the standardization and transversality of processes in the regions and business sectors where the Group opera.
In this sense, in 2020 there is a need to define a new Digital Transformation strategy. It is in this context that the project with Abaco Consulting begins, which represents a firm response by the ACA Group to the new challenges we face in these times of pandemic. It is against this backdrop that companies need to define and apply digital transformation strategies that support their business and allow for greater proximity to their customers. And the ACA Group was no exception, as it set the goal of upgrading its ERP system early on in order to digitally transform and empower processes and procedures, along with the introduction of technological tools that allow for an evolution and growing competitiveness of the organization . For these reasons the choice fell on SAP S4/HANA.
This project thus consisted of the conversion of the existing SAP R/3 system to the latest product S/4Hana version 1909, since it has a set of new features in terms of finance, logistics and construction management. The main objective was 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 functionalities. Given that the Group has several units across the globe (61 companies, each with specifics in terms of location and line of business), it was essential to articulate the internal teams and other partners so that the Downtime period was reduced to just one end. weekend.
BENEFITS OF THE NEW ERP
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 ranges 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.
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 to obtain information for decision-making in real-time . Lastly, we highlight the mobility benefit that comes with implementing SAP Fiori.
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.
IMPLEMENTATION AND CHALLENGES
The first Go-Live date for the S4/HANA conversion project was scheduled for January 2021. However, given the need to close logistical movements until the day before the Go-Live, associated with the fact that this activity makes the traditional procedure impossible At the end of the year, Abaco and Grupo ACA decided to bring the project forward by 1 month. However, 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 and ACA teams, it was possible to deliver the project within the estimated timing.
Unrelated to the implementation itself, one of the biggest challenges felt in this process was dealing with the fact that Construction (the Group’s core business) is not, by tradition, one of the most technological sectors. In this way, within our organization we face this potential difficulty as a challenge that we aspire to overcome.
26 professionals from the ACA Group were directly involved in this project, including Process Owners and Key Users from the various regions where the Group develops its activity. In turn, Abaco had 28 resources that supported this implementation in 2 countries, in a 100% remote environment.
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”