Article

Firm's SAP project clears end-user roadblock

Lauren Soucy

Iveco, the Italy-based industrial vehicles arm of the Fiat group, has been struggling to get a handle on a disarray of customer and vehicle information located in hundreds of legacy systems. The company embarked on a major SAP project to correct the problem, but ran into another obstacle -- trying to convince employees to use the new software.

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We are able to follow the vehicle from the cradle to the grave, and we think this is very powerful.
Dario Castello,
supply chain and manufacturing/sales process manager Iveco

In 2002 company executives purchased SAP for Automotive, an industry-specific software suite, launching a more than four-year project to streamline and eliminate different applications and systems used in offices located in 19 countries.

"Our challenge was to be competitive," said Dario Castello, Iveco's supply chain and manufacturing/sales and marketing process manager. "The key is speed and flexibility. We wanted to do things faster and keep things lean internally."

Among the long list of vehicles Iveco manufacturers and sells is heavy construction equipment, fire engines, busses and tractor trailers. Surviving a highly competitive automotive market meant Castello and other executives had to convince employees that the new SAP software would eliminate inefficiencies and speed up their day-to-day work. It was an initial struggle since many of the employees were used to the old way of doing things, Castello said.

"It's not easy to convince users about the benefits," Castello said. "Generally, the secret is to see the first tangible result early on in the project. When we reached the go-live within a year and a half, it showed everyone the benefits [of SAP]."

The new system integrates all information and processes from the front end to the back office.

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When the first stages of the project went live for 2,000 users last year, end users quickly realized some of the benefits, which include a dealer portal and a faster order processing system, Castello said. Over time employees are growing more comfortable with the system.

"While with the legacy systems we often had to process orders at night or occasionally the night after, SAP allows us to invoice any new vehicle online when the purchase is made," Castello said.

Enrico Nicoletta, SAP program manager, said that operational differences were frustrating for the company. SAP has lived up to the company's expectations so far, Nicoletta said, but there is a lot more work to be done.

"Our biggest hope [in implementing SAP] was to extend the model in all countries where Iveco operates, and standardize our systems," Nicoletta said.

To fund such a large-scale project, Iveco delayed other plans, including a customer relationship management implementation. While Nicoletta projects the implementation will continue through 2007, the company is pleased with the results so far.

"We have had very big success with the project, so we did not have any doubts about moving forward," he said. "We have moved very quickly."

Iveco also looked to SAP software to coordinate all user information in one place and to follow the vehicle from inspiration to creation and beyond. Their ultimate goal is to unify the network that spans spanning 23 production sites, 250 dealers and more than 5,000 suppliers.

"One very important thing was to have a master platform enabling Iveco to access master data about our customers," Castello said. "We are also able to follow the vehicle from the cradle to the grave, and we think this is very powerful."


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