Maflow companies have been owned by the Boryszew Group since 2010. The business goal of the Boryszew Group is to build a strong market position in the automotive industry in Poland and in the world. The Group is getting closer to achieving this goal with the acquisition of companies from the automotive sector, reorganization, mergers, as well as an organic growth and better financial results. t. By taking control of Maflow, a leader in the production of air conditioning, power steering and active suspension hoses for the automotive industry, Boryszew SA has become a global company with manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia and South America. To announce their success from the stage, a huge organizational work had to be done behind the scenes, as is often the case with this type of project. One of the major challenges was to ensure the continuity of operation of the IT systems of acquired Maflow companies, including primarily SAP ERP and the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) platform.
SAP and EDI in automotive
The Maflow companies in France, Spain and Italy use the SAP ERP system in areas such as financial accounting and controlling, material management, production planning, quality management, and sales and distribution. These areas, which are critical to any production company, are even more strategically important to a manufacturer of products for the automotive industry.
As a supplier of components for customers such as Volkswagen Group, Renault, PSA or Jaguar Land Rover, Maflow handles orders worth millions of euro. The synchronization of production and deliveries with car manufacturers’ schedules is accurate to one hour (just-in-time deliveries), and even minor delays may lead to high financial penalties.
High availability is our standard
After the acquisition of Maflow Group, Boryszew SA Maflow Polska, previously a local company in the group, began to act as a “parent company”. The new role entailed profound changes. We developed a new IT strategy for the Maflow Group. One of the key tasks was to build competence and create the IT Center for the Maflow Group in Tychy. From then on, we began the process of unification of solutions and centralization of IT.
In the last two years, the local team evolved. It gradually has become global. We now support the services that are used in all of our locations. Maflow plants scattered throughout the world use our services around the clock. This is a considerable technical and organizational challenge.
The process of centralization could not be successful without the use of the latest technologies and solutions, but the key factor, as usual, turned out to be people. In the last two years, we managed to build a good, though very young team. It is good teamwork that makes us successful.
To put it simply , for Maflow centralization means the improvement of service quality, increased security, and cost reduction. Our customers must be sure that our systems operate in continuous mode. HA is a standard in the automotive industry. The business expects us to provide full support and maximize returns on investments in IT. In this context, we analyze every invested zloty, euro or rupee.
Customers appreciate the technology and innovation of Maflow. We invest and develop our business wherever we are needed. Our most recent investment is a factory in India. Despite large cultural differences and communication problems, we have built a team and launched a new factory. At the moment, there is no similar company with Polish share capital in the market. The Boryszew Group (including Maflow) is becoming a tier 1 player in the global market of components for car manufacturing. We are proud to show our newest factory to our customers.
Our partnership with SNP was the next step to improve the quality of our services. They have the experience, references, and high competence that we cared most about. They provide application management services at a higher level than our previous partners. This does not change the fact that SNP must continually improve their processes to meet our expectations.
Bartłomiej Irczyk, IT Director, Maflow Group
In addition to SAP, the second pillar of the system landscape at Maflow is the EDI platform. There are more than a dozen types of messages (orders, invoices, advice notes, inventory balances, credit notes, delivery confirmations or reports, etc.), suppliers, and customers in each Maflow company, that is why the EDI network is a very complex structure with hundreds of connections transferring thousands of messages which are critical to the continuity of every day production and supply. Ensuring efficient and effective communication between Maflow systems, the supplier, and customer systems is the de facto primary objective of IT administrators in the company.
By acquiring Maflow with its inventory as an added benefit, the new owner took over its IT systems, and consequently also took over administrative tasksas well asthe tasks related to ensuring high availability and performance of SAP systems and the EDI platform. The SAP system does not support business processes at Maflow in Poland, currently serving as the headquarters for the companies in other countries.
It was virtually impossible to build a company’s internal team of professionals experienced enough to take on the system maintenance responsibility within a short time. Under the new ownership structure, Maflow decided to outsource the administration and application management services for SAP users. They decided to establish a partnership with the SNP Outsourcing Center.
– Maflow France Automotive SAS
– Maflow Spain Automotive S.L.
– Maflow BRS S.r.l. (Italy)
No special treatment at SNP
The new service provider was expected to take over support services quickly and without disrupting system operation. The situation was extraordinary, because the SAP support had to be taken over virtually straight away. The time taken for the preparation phase which included the transfer of knowledge about the specific features of SAP configuration at Maflow and the meetings of consultants with key users was shorter compared to takeovers of SAP support services from other SNP customers.
The change of the service provider was another step in the reorganization of SAP maintenance taken within a short time, so Maflow also wanted it not to not be very engaging for key users.
Consultants from the SNP Outsourcing Center had to learn the specifics of the Maflow system quickly, by familiarizing themselves with the configuration and extensions in each area in parallel with maintenance tasks.
The only exception from the agreed service standard was the extension of the agreed SLA (Service Level Agreement) parameters during the first months, so that the consultants had time to get familiar with the SAP configuration and system extensions at Maflow and to prepare the solution.
In the first phase, beginning in June 2012, SNP took over the support services for SD, MM and EDI. After the holidays, all system areas were covered by the service (added modules included: FI, CO, PM, PP and QM). Currently, the systems of three Maflow companies (in France, Spain and Italy) are fully supported by SNP consultants.
SAP application management every day
SNP Outsourcing Center is the second line of support to Maflow users, supporting more than 30 key users in three companies of the group.
The standard customer service for SNP service customers includes the availability of an HP Service Manager, a platform for reporting issues which allows customers to monitor the status and processing time of their requests. As Paulina Polowczyk who is the Application Management Leader (SD) at SNP and service coordinator for Maflow says: “The HP Service Manager and the Service Desk team of the SNP Outsourcing Center work together as a single point of contact for all requests. They are those elements of our portfolio which are responsible for fast receipt and internal distribution of customer requests and guarantee a proper correspondence . Then, experienced professionals from relevant support teams – consultants who specialize in particular system areas – take on the responsibility for providing the solution. Their availability to Maflow users is guaranteed by the provisions of SLA that set out the maximum response times to requests.”
For the system users of Maflow, Single Point of Contact and the support application were key issues in the support organization. As Mirosław Godzwon, Coordinator of Business Systems at Maflow says: “For the end user, it is important to have a central place where incidents are reported and where users can view the current status of their requests and check at any time at what stage the solution is. As a support coordinator, having access to all requests in an easy and clear way, I can focus on the most business critical and relevant requests. If the business situation requires it, I can raise the priority of the request at any time. It happened at least a few times, when I raised the priority of a request and was met with a quick response from the support team at SNP. The fact that one person is appointed at SNP to contact with on issues related to the system support significantly facilitates the communication and ensures that the issue will go in the right hands. Once a month I receive a report based on which I check the statistics and see whether the number of requests is at a stable level. Sudden decreases or increases in the number of requests may indicate a change in business processes.”
In such a global work environment the agreed upon language of communication is English, although it is not always obvious. It’s not just a varied (but usually sufficient) level of language skills among users. A challenge for service consultants is sometimes the system documentation, much of which is in Italian. It happens that the user attaches a fragment of the documentation in Italian to describe a request. At the beginning it was surprising for SNP consultants and could slow down the request analysis step, but as they were getting familiar with the customer installation, they started to respond faster to key user requests.
Communication is not just a language. Different levels of detail in the description of issues, different levels of SAP competence, and different expectations of key users are also the aspects that should be taken into account in daily work with the customer. The system was implemented in the Italian company, so among other reasons the competence of users from that country is the highest. The Italians are also responsible for SAP Basis administration.
Three different companies in three different countries plus differences in the system configuration for each company and a large number of specific extensions to the standard solution make the satisfactory service of Maflow a big challenge.
The availability of SNO consultants is determined by a monthly hour limit agreed with the customer. “For the size of the SAP installation at Maflow, the hour limit is rather large, but fully used. The systems that are critical to a company from the automotive industry, such as SAP and the EDI platform, have high service needs” adds Paulina Polowczyk.
After several months of cooperation in the application management, Maflow decided to extend the scope of services to include the SAP administration support. Basis consultants from SNP serve as the second line of system administration. Their main tasks include system monitoring and helping the application management consultants when they are processing the requests at a crossing point between Basis and other SAP modules.
If the company does not have its own SAP competence, the administration service together with the support service relieve users from deciding whether or not a system issue falls within the scope of the contract with the service provider. It is enough to submit a request in the support application, and the consultants from the Service Desk team will forward it for processing to relevant teams from the SNP Outsourcing Center.
At SNP, the standard of service-related cooperation with the customer is to designate contract coordinators on both sides. Their role is not limited to monitoring the budget and accounting for activities. Setting priorities, clarifying possible misunderstandings, agreeing on the scope of development tasks and planning their schedule, and accepting transports – hardly a week goes by without a contact to both coordinators.
At Maflow, this role is performed by Mirosław Godzwon. He is not an SAP specialist, but has extensive knowledge of Maflow’s business processes which he often shares with SNP consultants, clarifying descriptions of key user requests. His knowledge is also indispensable when development works are needed.
Mirosław Godzwon evaluates the role of SAP application management at SNP from his perspective:
“From a business perspective, it’s important to provide comfort to end users by ensuring the assistance of consultants in resolving everyday issues and making changes in business processes. Having a complete set of services, application management and administration, from a single provider facilitates communication, improves the response time, and increases the ability to monitor the progress throughout the entire change introduction process. Because of this, it is impossible to dump the responsibility on someone else if the changes relate to different business processes and are implemented by different module consultants. For me , the support coordinator from Maflow, it is very convenient, because I focus on ensuring the delivery of solutions that meet business expectations. That is why I don’t waste time on communicating with module and administration consultants. Due to the different levels of competence in each Maflow plant using the SAP system, it is important that the cooperation with a service partner includes all three levels of support. Knowing that we lack competence at the appropriate level, we decided to use the knowledge of experienced consultants working at SNP to ensure business continuity. Our business users can use the expertise and assistance of consultants on a daily basis by turning to them with everyday issues, ideas, and change requests, which streamlines their work. Maflow is a company from the automotive industry where there are very demanding standards for ensuring the continuity and quality of supplies, production, etc. In order to meet customer requirements, Maflow expects suppliers to provide quality services and support at the level guaranteed by the SLA. Any delays or problems in the execution of business processes translate directly into increased costs and loss of profits. In addition, they have a negative impact on customer relationships. We are a very demanding customer, and SNP has taken up the challenge of supporting our organization in the area of SAP in three countries located outside Poland, with different cultures and different approaches to SAP support.”
Not only ongoing support
SNP also carries out minor development tasks in SAP within the application management. The scope of development tasks includes adaptation of the system to legal requirements. In addition, there are also non-standard tasks assigned by the customer. Recently, for example, the SNP support consultants audited the financial year closing procedure and conducted workshops on SAP FI solutions.
Each Maflow company is different in the way it does its business: a slightly different scope of activities, different product range and production model, different suppliers and customers – this diversity is also reflected in system solutions. The SAP installation at Maflow has grown in size over time as many non-standard extensions, different for different companies, have been added to it. Some of them are used very seldom, some permanently. Such a complex SAP installation requires a lot of administration and support.
SNP support consultants are experts in standard solutions and system processes. They also have a lot of experience in project management and support gained while providing support services to other customers. This allowed them to get familiar in a short time with Maflow-specific processes and extensions to provide a satisfactory level of customer service.
Next step in SAP support
Companies operating internationally with branches in many countries have long since proved that the central administration of the SAP system is effective in terms of system performance and maintenance costs. Shared services centers in corporations have long been providing a second level application management for users scattered around the world. This is the often copied and accepted model of SAP help desk organization.
More and more frequently, companies decide to go one step further and instead of centralizing such services in the organization they outsource them to a specialized third-party company. If the system users can be supported by the group employees from another country, they can be supported by external consultants from abroad just as well and in some cases even better.
So it was at Maflow. Within the application management, SNP not only provided a high level of competence, which Maflow did not have. As an experienced support organization, SNP could offer them virtually on the spot flexibility, adapting to the situation and taking over support services effectively. We became familiarized with the customer’s system within a short time and we are able to respond to requests with equal efficacy regardless of which Group company they come from – Spanish, Italian or French.
Michał Adamczewski, Application Management Deputy Director, SNP
Maflow is one of the biggest manufacturers of cables for air conditioning systems, brake systems, power steering systems and active suspension systems in the automotive industry. Its customers include some of the world’s largest car companies, such as Volkswagen Group, Renault, Jaguar Land Rover, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Volvo, and BMW as well as truck manufacturers, such as Truck, Scania, and DAF Trucks. The Boryszew Group has been the owner of Maflow companies in Poland, France, Spain, Italy and also plants in Brazil, China and India since 2010. One of the key areas of activity of the Boryszew Group is the sale of products for the automotive sector, including lead and lead oxides for the battery industry, zinc oxides for the tire industry, bearings, aluminum strips, automotive fluids, and staple fibers used in the production of car seats.