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Successful migration to a forward-looking platform: The Swiss Automotive Group (SAG), one of the largest automotive spare parts providers in Europe, has introduced Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. In order to achieve a smooth integration of industry-specific processes, SAG relies on the gevis ERP | AX software solution by the Münster-based GWS Group. The overall aim of the migration to the new cloud platform is to equip the Swiss company’s ERP landscape for the disruptive challenges of the independent sub-market.

“Disruptive technology trends such as e-mobility, the networking of vehicles or autonomous driving will change our market significantly in the coming years,” says Peiman Safiari, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at SAG. The flexibility and adaptability of IT systems in the future will therefore be more critical than ever. “With our previous ERP solution, we would not have been able to keep up with these developments.”

SAG therefore decided to merge key business processes on a new IT platform. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (D365), SAG today relies on a cloud-based system that provides greater transparency and flexibility in integrating new technologies. Another advantage is the ability to access all ERP functions on a location-independent basis. This makes the exchange of data between SAG’s international subsidiaries possible, without system breakdowns.

Integrating industry-specific processes with gevis ERP | AX
In order to integrate classic trading functions and processes smoothly, SAG added the gevis ERP | AX product solution. GWS Group’s system is designed to integrate data streams of connected special solutions into ERP processes and to merge them on one platform. Here, the focus was on integrating a scanner solution from AIS and the GWS solution bi1 for business analyses. For procurement management, SAG implemented LogoMate by Remira.

Resource and cost savings as a result
While the full roll-out of the new IT platform is currently being prepared at SAG’s Swiss offices, D365 is already being used successfully in all Austrian branches of the Group. Among other things, SAG is benefiting from a noticeable optimization of warehouse management and scheduling. The Group has been able to improve its forecasting and enjoy a more effective transport management system, as well as a much more precise assortment control.

“With this ERP solution we can cover any future business requirements. This is a quantum leap in organization,” says Safiari. Switching to a cloud-based solution in combination with gevis ERP | AX makes it possible to lay the groundwork for better and more efficient processes. “This inevitably leads to savings in resources, and therefore costs for SAG.” With regard to the scanner solution for the “last mile,” AIS’s Telematics system was convincing, also due to the proven, smooth interaction of the two IT systems.

Praise for the partner
SAG has had no regrets about relying on GWS in transitioning to a new ERP system: “Our partner’s employees have been closely involved in our daily work in order to analyze our processes. They have acted as central contact points, streamlining the channels of coordination with our providers,” says Safiari. This has made a very efficient project management possible. With 3,200 employees and more than 200 branches, SAG is one of the largest suppliers in the European automotive spare parts sector and the market leader for spare parts for passenger cars and commercial vehicles in Switzerland and Romania. The company also has a presence in Austria, Belgium, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary. The product portfolio covers more than 250,000 items. These include service and repair parts, lubricants, chemicals, car accessories, workshop equipment and consumables.

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The GWS group of companies is pleased to have recently won an international award for their gevis ERP solution. The journal CIO Applications Europe, affiliated to the renowned US IT magazine CIO Applications (https://www.cioapplications.com), has now selected GWS as one of the „Top 10 ERP Solution Providers 2019“. Among other things, the expert jury stated: „GWS provides an exemplary and outstanding contribution to ERP technology“. Joe Phillip, Editor-in-Chief of CIO Applications Europe, is quoted as saying, „It brings companies massively forward and gives them the benefits they need in tough competition and for their future viability.“

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The GWS Group continued its successful growth trend in 2018, generating €61.5 million in sales revenues. The group of companies (consisting of GWS Gesellschaft für Warenwirtschafts-Systeme mbH, NEUTRASOFT IT für den Handel GmbH & Co. KG, SANGROSS GmbH & Co. KG, DIACOM Systemhaus GmbH and faveo GmbH) once again outperformed the relevant market.

Its good results were primarily down to GWS’s persistent focus on customer needs, exploitation of market potential in the new and existing customer businesses, successful individual projects and growing consulting services. For the first time, its 75.1% majority stake in faveo GmbH also played a significant role. A long-time ERP specialist with proven expertise in the cloud business, with its faveo365 suite faveo provides a proprietary ERP solution based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV that is ideal for SMEs operating in the trade and manufacturing segments.

GWS’s customers include network-oriented businesses from both the commercial and the agricultural sector. These customers now use more than 60,000 licenses that were sold for GWS’s core products: gevis ERP | NAV and gevis ERP | AX. Moreover, additional license revenues were generated by value-added products such as document management, e-commerce, mobility and BI solutions.

Focus on Cloud Solutions

“In 2018, we once again succeeded in acquiring key customers for our two core products, gevis ERP | NAV and gevis ERP | AX. In so doing, we managed to further expand our share of the market,” said Udo Lorenz, who is CEO of GWS along with Georg Mersmann. “The expansion of the cloud-based Microsoft product portfolio in the area of CRM, for example, plus a product strategy that is increasingly geared toward cloud business in general, will further boost GWS’s growth,” adds Mr. Mersmann.

Continually Increasing Employee Numbers

The GWS Group’s sustained positive development also has a direct influence on its employee numbers, which are rising steadily at the existing company sites in Münster, Munich, Nuremberg, Leonberg, Isernhagen and Essen and currently stand at well over 450.

We are still looking for committed IT consultants (m/f/x), product managers (m/f/x) and software developers (m/f/x). CEO Georg Mersmann continues: “Anyone with experience in the trade sector who is looking for a challenging role with good social benefits and, above all, those who want to gain from excellent teamwork, should not hesitate to apply to us.”

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GWS Gesellschaft für Warenwirtschafts-Systeme mbH organized the largest IT conference in the company’s history on February 5 and 6. More than 400 participants came to the Esperanto Hotel in Fulda to attend lectures, panel discussions and workshops and learn about the bandwidth offered by GWS’s diverse IT solutions to optimally exploit the possibilities digitization opens up. The conference featured an extensive exhibition with more than 30 booths, including one from the purchasing office Deutscher Eisenhändler GmbH (E/D/E). In a first, the GWS IT Conference included all wholesale and retail sectors.

Kicking off the event was the GWS management status report. Udo Lorenz and Georg Mersmann addressed both the continuing positive development of GWS and trends in the retail trade and world of work. „With a turnover of close to 60 million euro, more than 460 employees and all Microsoft products on offer,“ said Lorenz and Mersmann to the managing directors and IT managers present, “we can now claim to be a reliable and stable partner for our customers.” Any company working with GWS, whether large or small, will know that they have products with optimal future security, good advice and a responsible company at their side. But above all, the participants would be inspired and find solutions regarding how best to adapt to the demands of the market and their own customers.

Great market opportunities 

In analyzing the market and developing IT, Mersmann and Lorenz highlighted the opportunities which using IT and modern ERP systems present. Applications such as mobile working, IT- and sensor-supported all-round monitoring of servers and rooms or paperless administration open up new and hitherto undiscovered potential. The two managing directors believe that modern IT can even alleviate the challenges posed by shortages of skilled workers.

Organizational changes 

To boost customer support still further, the two managing directors presented numerous changes in the organization and support processes. Key among these are industry-related business units, expedited support responses and accelerated project implementations. Lorenz: “In 2018, the customer survey showed us that while our clients are happy with our efforts, there is still room for improvement.”

Improvements of gevis ERP | NAV

The presentation of the current GWS main solution gevis ERP | NAV as well as the improvements made since the last conference were crucial parts of the IT conference. The new features of the role center include significantly higher processing speed and an improved ability to export data from gevis to EXCEL and edit it there. The newly developed web, phone and tablet clients now enable access via all end devices and from anywhere, which paves the way for field staff and management to work on the spot. Also new is the so-called Universal Roll Center, linking up what were previously separate tasks, such as purchasing and sales. This extension is primarily intended for employees who take on several tasks in the company, who will now be able to use a common role center.

gevis ERP | NAV becomes gevis ERP | BC

When presenting the improvements made within gevis ERP | NAV the speakers also announced an upcoming name change. Because Microsoft is renaming Navision as Business Central, on which gevis is also based, gevis ERP | NAV will also be renamed gevis ERP | BC. A key update on the increasingly important cloud topic was also announced. In future, there will be scope to use gevis ERP | BC while eliminating all need for a server and infrastructure. According to Managing Director Georg Mersmann, “We envision customers simply downloading the software from the Internet and paying for it based on the number of users and the time used.” The basis for this, according to the Managing Director, would be Microsoft’s data centers, which are now located entirely in Europe, for example in Amsterdam and Dublin, to be followed by Berlin and Frankfurt as of 2020.

A varied support program

As is customary at a GWS IT conference, application-specific presentations were supported by exhibits from GWS partners as well as various comprehensive presentations on topics such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, a holistic eCommerce strategy or gevis as SaaS from the cloud. There was great interest in a speed dating event, at which over a dozen GWS partners introduced themselves, and a panel discussion, in which five companies from food wholesale trade, building materials , wholesale and retail and technical wholesale trades reported on their digitization plans and results.

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