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Schaeffler and SAP agree strategic partnership

Time13 Aug,2019

The automotive supplier will become a pilot partner in the introduction of SAP S / 4 Hana. Both sides should profit from the alliance.


The software group cooperates with the automotive supplier Schaeffler.

The automotive supplier Schaeffler has been a loyal SAP customer for a long time. "We are traditionally a company with a high SAP coverage. Over 90 percent today run through our central SAP system, "said CEO Klaus Rosenfeld the Handelsblatt. Now the Franconian family-owned company is concluding a far-reaching partnership with the Walldorf-based software group.

Among other things, Schaeffler will be one of the first automotive suppliers to introduce SAP S / 4 Hana - and to help with feedback to improve the program package with which companies control their business processes.

According to Rosenfeld, the automotive supplier had in the past established complex, Schaeffler-specific solutions in the past. "In the future, we want to rely significantly more on standard solutions. So the motto is: 'Back to standard'. "

Rosenfeld is convinced: "Planning and managing the migration to SAP S / 4 Hana at an early stage brings us clear competitive advantages, especially with regard to digital transformation." In return, companies run the risk of falling behind, for example if they do not care about car manufacturers could provide the right digital interfaces early on. It is important not to put such investments in the future in the current downturn of the industry.

SAP Germany boss Daniel Holz sees benefits for both sides. "We can provide the company with access to innovations at an early stage," he told Handelsblatt. This then has the opportunity to give early feedback and thus "to shape the standard solutions". Schaeffler is one of at most a handful of pilot partners in the supply industry during the introduction of SAP S / 4 Hana.


SAP Germany CEO Daniel Holz (left) and Schaeffler CEO Klaus Rosenfeld signing the contract.

Holz said on schedule: "Following a joint planning phase, we want to start implementing it at Schaeffler next year." The complete conversion of the group should then be completed within four to five years.

S / 4 Hana is a program package that enables companies to control business processes from procurement to finances to staffing. SAP specifically tailors the software to the needs of 25 industries, including the automotive industry, which for example has access to parts management, warehouse management and Industry 4.0 capabilities.

In the further development of software, SAP often relies on cooperation with pilot customers. In the current case, the suggestions from Schaeffler are to be incorporated into the product, which can then be used by the entire industry. The IT group calls this process "co-innovation". SAP manager Holz explained that the Franconian company has "outstanding expertise in the automotive industry".

About concrete investment sums or potential savings, both companies keep covered. Since Schaeffler introduces both S / 4 Hana and the personnel solution Success Factors, it is likely to be a comparatively large project.

"Complexity reduction and standardization are key levers for increasing efficiency," said Rosenfeld. "The conversion costs money, but at the same time brings cost advantages and makes the overall system more robust and flexible."

At S / 4 Hana, many modules would be equipped with Artificial Intelligence, Holz said. The AI component works directly into the modules used by the customer. For example, Schaeffler can provide feedback on the functions for optimizing the supply chain. "Based on a close strategic exchange of top management, the most important fields of action are to be identified and addressed, and intersections identified in the technology roadmap of both companies," said Schaeffler.

Schaeffler is currently experiencing difficult times, like the entire automotive industry. The global economy is weakening, and at the same time companies are having to invest heavily in the transition to the electromobility era. Against this background, Schaeffler had to repeatedly correct the forecasts downwards. But future initiatives should not be "de-prioritized" in such times, says Rosenfeld.

More: For Group CEO Bill McDermott, S / 4 Hana is the central product in the portfolio. The introduction runs but slowly. SAP is therefore rebuilding the area.

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