Safe, fast and professional

ERP evaluation for wholesaler and system supplier Alfred Rudolph

by Patrick Salomon1 and Martin Jürgens2

If an ERP system change is imminent, external ERP consultants can make the evaluation process safer and significantly accelerate it. Abels & Kemmner supported the wholesaler and system supplier for kitchen accessories Alfred Rudolph in the evaluation process. Patrick Salomon, internal project manager for ERP evaluation and implementation at Rudolph, summarizes: “The complex procedure for the evaluation was very well prepared by Abels & Kemmner, was implemented quickly and all the results were presented on a few charts in a way that enabled decisions to be made. In short, the work of the external consultants was reliable, fast and professional and led us purposefully to a viable decision. On our own, we would hardly have been able to obtain a quick and reliable statement.”

In order to be able to meet the high organizational requirements resulting from its market positioning as a leading supplier of kitchen accessories, Alfred Rudolph has built up a very heterogeneous IT landscape with a very good degree of organization over the years. It essentially consists of the merchandise management system FAMAC AM and the financial accounting system Famac FM with Oracle database, a Heidler shipping system, the planning and scheduling tool DISKOVER, an Easy archive system, as well as the comprehensive individual solution “Rudolph-Info” for optimized, functional supplementation. There are very special applications, for example, for credit checks with customer limits for order picking, the consideration of associations in pricing, price adjustment and invoice printing, bonus and agent billing, returns processing, data carrier exchange, web store, etc.

This well-established IT landscape is now facing a major change, as Bäurer GmbH, which acquired the license rights for Famac AM in 2000 as Bäurer AG, has announced that it will no longer continue to develop and support the maintenance of the Famac AM software this year, meaning that, in addition to the associated maintenance risk for users, no further potential for improvement can be expected. Rudolph is therefore about to make a significant replacement investment. The aim is to activate the successor system in January 2006 so that a clean cut can be made parallel to the change of financial year.

With these goals in mind, the evaluation began

  • Greater system flexibility for more efficient business process design
  • Use of state-of-the-art IT structures with future prospects
  • Better functionality and usability
  • Higher degree of integration and less heterogeneity in the Rudolph EDP

The course for the “go alive” of the successor system should therefore be set as quickly as possible. Abels & Kemmner and the IT system house Ikado were commissioned to clarify technical issues. First, the ERP evaluation of the favored ERP system “b2trade” from Bäurer was to be carried out. If this system is not deemed suitable, an ERP selection should be connected.

The systematic approach to evaluation

A. Business processes

Regardless of whether the ERP system “b2trade” was suitable or whether an ERP selection would subsequently be made, the current organizational processes both in the functional areas and across functions had to be recorded, analyzed, documented and, if necessary, optimized in preparation for the “unavoidable” system change in the medium term. Cross-divisional tasks such as reporting or overarching processes such as the interface to financial accounting were also recorded. The future requirements for the PPS were then defined on the basis of the Rudolph business processes and the subsequent test schedule was developed from this. The importance of the requirements was differentiated into “essential”, “important”, “advantageous” and “less important”. Potential future business policy options, such as additional clients, locations, warehouse types, etc., were also agreed with the management. The resulting test schedule is independent of the ERP system to be evaluated, so that it can also be used as the basis for an ERP selection between several ERP systems or for an upstream pre-selection of ERP, PPS and MRP systems using a database query, e.g. the IT Matchmaker with over 210 ERP systems.

B. IT processes

In addition to recording the business processes, master and inventory data was migrated from the Famac system to the test environment provided by the Bäurer software “b2trade” Release 4.4. and the system parameterization. The data tables were filled using Oracle’s SQL options, whereby EDI interfaces and the b2_Connector would have to be used for a later transfer of transaction data. The initial assessment that there is a certain “relationship” between the “Famac” and “b2trade” systems from system provider Bäurers cannot be dismissed, at least in some areas.

In addition to the Rudolph data now available in the test system, the organizational structure of the company was also analyzed. Rudolph in the “b2trade” system for a process comparison in order to be able to recognize during the subsequent system test whether and to what extent the system can be used for Rudolph’s needs and with what effort it can be adapted.

C. System test

On the basis of the test timetable, which was sent to the company in advance. Bäurer to prepare possible solutions, the system test could be carried out intensively and quickly.

The test was started in the order entry area so that the orders of the different order types entered in the test could be used in the downstream areas for both delivery and replenishment.

The suitability of b2trade for some of the very specific Rudolph requirements and characteristics identified in the test schedule, such as

  • Invoicing to associations
  • Consideration of bonus agreements with customers and suppliers
  • Automatic credit check with customer limits when creating picking slips
  • Consideration of purchase limits
  • Returns processing with parcel label creation for collection
  • Highly differentiated payment terms and special conditions
  • Delivery on the day and avoidance of early delivery
  • Spare parts business
  • Product range with sets (system providers) and special orders, e.g. for lights
  • ….

were systematically scrutinized and evaluated.

D. Evaluation

The business processes and functions mapped in the test system were evaluated by both the Rudolph project team and the consultants from Abels und Kemmner. In addition to the grading, similar to a school grading system, the value of the respective requirements defined in the test timetable was included in the assessment. At the same time, it was clarified for each question whether the required functions are included in the standard module. In the case of missing functionality, the resulting low or high adaptation effort was quantified by the system provider in man-days. The evaluation of the test schedule ultimately led to a transparent assessment of the individual functional areas to be covered, so that the “strengths” and “weaknesses” of the ERP system were systematically identified in relation to the requirements. This made it clear where potential for improvement could be leveraged in the future through more efficient process design, e.g. the inspection of deliveries requiring approval before the material withdrawal note is printed, where functionality and usability could be improved or, for example, where more convenient data transfer options exist. It also became clear where previous additional tools such as the Heidler shipping system, the DISKOVER planning and scheduling tool, or the Rudolph special solutions for returns processing with the self-developed Rudolph information system are more efficient than the “b2trade”, have unique selling points or an adaptation in “b2trade” would be too costly and would ultimately no longer represent a b2 standard. The necessary interfaces to the tools to be retained were integrated directly into the offer package. The clearly defined interface to financial accounting is also included in the offer as a standard b2 interface. Parallel to the test phase, the offer was successively concretized and further negotiated in detail so that an attractive, finally negotiated offer was available at the end of the system test and the presentation of the evaluation.

The “b2trade”, including the standard add-on modules offered, was ultimately classified by the project team as a future-oriented solution with good prospects at a very good price/performance ratio. With this replacement investment in conjunction with the additional tools Heidler and DISKOVER, as well as the special solutions remaining in some areas, Rudolph will be well equipped for the future as a whole.

About Alfred Rudolph

At Alfred Rudolph GmbH & Co KG, over 100 employees contribute to the company’s success. The service focus is on the wide-ranging product program, which comprises twelve product groups – from kitchen fittings, sinks and extractor hoods to lights, functional columns, universal slicers and waste bins through to exhaust technology and installation accessories. The focus is on 100% all-round support for the currently 7,500 active customers. Around 1500 customer orders are delivered every day. Basic articles are delivered within 48 hours at the latest. On special request, deliveries within 24 hours are also no problem.

As a leading supplier of kitchen accessories, Rudolph has continuously transformed itself from a pure wholesaler to a system supplier with intelligent in-house developments, exclusive products and modern product solutions. At, registered customers can quickly and effectively find out about current promotions and new products or call up customer-specific data with pinpoint accuracy, even outside business hours. This means that you can browse and buy from the Rudolph webshop at practically any time of day or night. The number of active users to date – around 1000 – confirms that this special service has struck a chord with many Rudolph customers. A new shop-in-shop with a modular system enables almost all conceivable product presentation requirements of the customer for the end customer.

1 Patrick Salomon is project manager at Fa. Alfred Rudolph GmbH & Co. KG for the ERP evaluation and implementation

2 Martin Jürgens is Senior Consultant at Abels & Kemmner

Picture of Dr. Bernd Reineke

Dr. Bernd Reineke

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