How Panaya helped Hillarys Blinds speed up their S/4HANA upgrade
Replacing three long-standing enterprise solutions in consecutive months is not an enviable task. Starting your project during the busiest period of the year with orders piling in even less so.
Yet this is exactly what Hillarys Blinds, a leading UK manufacturer and retailer of made-to-order blinds and window coverings did. As a company who controls a third of the UK market share in the industry, a smooth and efficient ERP implementation was essential in keeping the orders coming through over the busy winter period.
We sat down with Hillarys Head of ICT Julian Bond to talk through their upgrade to SAP S4/HANA and the effect it has had on their business processes.
ERP experts and commentators don’t tire of telling us that cloud ERP is The Future, so it might seem anomalous that as prominent a company as Hillarys opted instead for an on-premise system.
For Hillarys, the advantages of cloud software didn’t quite stack up. “People shout about how much money cloud software can save businesses” explains Julian, “We have looked at it in the past, but when it came to cost calculations it seemed that we would be paying a premium for features we didn’t need.
“You have to look for software that works for you as a business. Our user-base is mostly concentrated in our site at Nottingham so our need for highly mobile-compatible software was limited.
“Cloud software works in the right circumstances - if you were a startup who wanted to scale up rapidly, you wouldn’t have it any other way - but for us the decision to go with an on-premise system made the most sense strategically.”
One of the key challenges for Hillarys, Julian says, was implementing three systems - SAP’s Business Warehouse, ERP and CRM - over a relatively short space of time across a busy retail period.
“Our business just can’t cope with freezing for six to twelve weeks whilst we replace our software, so we wanted to implement as efficiently as possible.”
Hillarys implemented SAP's Business Warehouse by freezing their legacy system after the last postal date before Christmas and using that time to migrate data and test the new software. ERP and CRM implementations followed in January and February respectively.
Effective use of implementation tools were essential in getting the new software up and running. Alongside SAP’s implementation tools and a DMO (database migration option), Hillarys relied on implementation optimization tool Panaya to identify high priority testing areas and streamline the entire process.
“Using Panaya we were able to identify the areas which required the most work and focus on them. Ideally we’d love to test and retest everything, but it’s a very lengthy process.”
“People ask me how I knew that it was enough testing. The answer to that is that no-one really knows until the system goes live! Panaya allowed us to test more efficiently and saved us a lot of time.”
One year on, the move has paid off, and Julian couldn’t be happier with how S/4 HANA is running. “It’s fantastically fast” he says. “Some of the reports our accountants run used to take 20 minutes to generate. Now they take one.”
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