Business Leak interviews João Moreira

“Founded in 2004, in Porto, Ábaco Consultores is specialized in the implementation and maintenance of SAP solutions. Right now the company is expanding its business, as shown by the more than 400 projects in 15 countries and 3 continents. With internationalization as a key strategy, Ábaco is now growing its operation to other European countries, such as Lithuania. Business Leak had a conversation with João Moreira, Chairman of the Board of Directors, which has revealed some details about their internationalization, the Brazilian market and forecasts for 2015.

Patrícia Fonseca – When and how did Ábaco started? 

João Moreira – Ábaco Consultores was founded in 2004, in Porto, focused on the implementation and maintenance of SAP information systems – a world leader in management software. The company was born from the market need to have SAP solutions designed specifically for each business and for various sectors of activity where there was no interaction between the business, the technology and the market itself.

Since then the company has consolidated its position as a SAP reference partner and developed more than 400 projects in 15 countries and 3 continents. In addition to Porto, we currently have offices in Lisbon, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Now with ten years of experience and in process of internationalization, Ábaco is expanding its operation to other European countries, such as Lithuania.

P.F. – What are the main business areas?

J.M. – Ábaco Consultores is specialized in the implementation and maintenance of SAP solutions. The main areas of business where Ábaco operates are: Engineering and Construction, Confection, Apparel and Footwear, Food Industry and Discrete Manufacturing. It is in these areas that the company stands out from the other market players, through the pre-customization of SAP solutions adapted to each client’s profile and trough the expertise of its consultants in the business process.

P.F. – What makes a company seek Ábaco Consultores?

J.M. – We would say that there are three main reasons why a customer chooses Ábaco: Firstly, the consolidated experience of the last 10 years allows the company to control the solutions in order to ensure both a rapid return on investment, and also a complete customer satisfaction with the implementation. Secondly, the specialization by business sector, which allows Ábaco to – continuously – strengthen and consolidate its experience in the implementation of SAP solutions in various areas, as well as the know-how of the specificities of each sector. And finally, the proximity that Ábaco has with the customer, which ensures the development of customized and adapted solutions according to the needs and expectations of each business, in a close and transparent partnership with each one.

P.F. – What are the main sectors that seek you?

J.M. – As previously mentioned, the main sectors where the company has a presence are: Engineering and Construction, Confection, Apparel and Footwear, Food Industry and Discrete Manufacturing. However, due to the comprehensiveness of the SAP solutions and thanks to Ábaco’s accumulated know-how in the technology, the company implements SAP in any sector of activity, in Portugal and abroad.

P.F – For each sector there are specific SAP applications? 

J.M. – First it should be noted that there are industry vertical solutions complementary to the ERP, in which Ábaco Consultores has extensive knowledge and know-how. Each sector has a correspondent specific SAP solution: SAP EC&O for Engineering and Construction, SAP Retail for Retail, SAP AFS for Footwear, Textile and Fashion; and SAP Mills for production. However, Ábaco represents SAP’s entire portfolio of solutions, where in addition to ERP, we can also find CRM, Business Intelligence, Big Data and Mobility solutions. A more recent trend is the offer of solutions in the Cloud – notably in macro areas such as HR, Customer, Financials and Supplier – which has been adopted by SAP and, so, by Ábaco too.

P.F – Tell us about your internationalization strategy?

J.M. – Ábaco Consultores headquarters are in Porto, but we also have offices in Lisbon, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The latter two represent the company’s goal of internationalization and, also, our will to strengthen our position as a reference in the implementation of SAP solutions in the Brazilian market. Brazil is a strategic market for us and the fact that there aren’t any language barriers and/or cultural obstacles to the business implementation is a very good thing. However, Ábaco is also focused on other regions, as shown by the recent project we developed at the Lithuanian Public Administration.

P.F – Why Brazil?

J.M. – Brazil represents a strategic investment for the company, because it is a country with a significant economic growth, particularly in some sectors where Ábaco operates, like Engineering and Construction and the fashion industry. In addition, another reason that led us to make this step is the vicinity that Portuguese companies have with Brazil and the fact that we share the same language, which links the market and the company.

P.F – What is, at this moment, the relevance of the Brazilian market for Ábaco Consultores?

J.M. – Last year the Brazilian market already represented 32% of our total turnover value. Currently, according to data from the first half of 2014, the overall turnover of this market already represents 39% of our total. However, it is not only the Brazilian market that is growing, because in the first half of 2014 the Portuguese market was also increasing at a fast pace with an 8% growth.

P.F – Right now, a lot of people is talking about an economic recovery, does it really exist?

J.M. – The recovery has been happening in Portugal, but very timidly. 2014 registered important changes in some sectors. As an example we can talk about the 10% growth of public works contracts.

Internally we had a sales growth of about 25%, which reinforces the idea of recovery.

P.F – What does Ábaco Consultores expect for 2015?

J.M. – Ábaco Consultores expects 2015 to be a similar year to 2014. We expect to be able to continue to grow in Portugal, Brazil and the other locations where the company has operations. Outside of the financial plan, in terms of business, we expect Ábaco to consolidate its operations outside of Portugal, with the Brazilian business growth and the investment in projects in Europe, like the one in the Lithuanian Public Administration.”

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