ERP - ABAS is on the Way

Among all the media articles, experts' PPT, and even corporations' future informationization strategy plans are filled with "post-EPR" and "EPR Ⅱ". An EPR solution provider of a small and medium-sized German company with about 30 years abundant experience are developing China's market in its pragmatic style. Recently, I have the honor to interview Mr. Peter Forscht, the global COO of ABAS Software AG.

Mr. Peter Forscht, the global COO of ABAS Software AG

Thirty Years, Develop with Clients
Mr. Peter Forscht worked along with his friend (Mr. Werner Strub, now as the CEO of the company) founding a company in 1980 (now called ABAS Software AG), which was dedicated to business software development. And they launched the first version of the ABAS software based on the Unix platform in 1985. So far, ABAS has set up branches in 32 countries with the total clients over 3000 all over the world, what was the most commendable thing was the customer retention rate is always over 93% since the establishment of ABAS, and its first client of 1985 is still using the ABAS system. The current market ratio of ABAS in Germany and other countries was about 1:1. In recent years, ABAS has developed greatly in America's market owing to the increasing demand for replacement and upgrade of EPR, followed by China, India, Russia, Brazil and other emerging economies.

Figure 1 - Part of ABAS clients

ABAS is an energetic company without bank loans or external capital investment, whose share is mainly held by employees, and the equity ratio of total assets is up to 75%. Financial soundness makes ABAS the clients' demand-oriented company in software design and management. In order to fully keep clients' investment secure in the long term, ABAS has no listing plan, and will not consider the acquisition with other companies in terms of directly competitive relation. However, ABAS will perhaps acquire companies with strong complementarities cautiously according to the need. "The core purpose of acquisition and merger with competitors is just to obtain clients resources, relevant technologies and employees form the acquiring companies, but the final execution outcomes always go athwart due to the difficulty of integration. Firstly, clients will be declined with their confidence losing in the products' protracted nature. Secondly, it is difficult to integrate acquired products with independently-established products on the technical level. Finally, in the process of acquisition, the excellent staffs tend to leave the acquiring company, and these possess relatively limited talents staying. Looking back, most of the acquisition and merger examples are failures in ERP area. At least, no company comes up with a complete integration project after the merger and acquisition."

ABAS entered into China's market in 2003, which initially focused on completing the work of localization (so far, ABAS system is available for over 30 languages including Chinese), branches first establishment in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and then set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai in 2010 - ABAS Force (China) Limited. Currently, its clients' are mainly in Southern and East China, and is opening up the north and inland market gradually.
More than 80% corporations apply ERP system in Germany, while only about 10% of corporations truly put ERP system into use in China, thus, great potential lies in the market. ABAS will concentrate its effort on products, markets and services in the future to develop China's market in a larger extend.

Structure Highlights the Flexibility of ABAS
It is easy for ABAS to make flexible customization. What is more pivotal is that it is very convenient to upgrade the system. The upgrade process of ABAS system is calculated daily rather than monthly, which is decided by the multi-layered system structure of ABAS system.
In order to meet the requirements of corporations' personalized customization, the business software of ABASadopts "core layer" separated from "presentation layer/flexible user interface" structure in the multi-layered system, wherein the core layer completely researched and developed by ABAS (including ABAS database). The core layer containing the data layer, the application layer and the ABAS tool, these three structure link together closely; the application layer has the function of personalized customization above the core layer, including personalized user interface, JAVA personalized user interface, flexible standard user interface and flexible JAVA standard user interface.

Figure 2 - the multi-layered system structureof ABAS

According to the actual demands, users can update personalized system screens, data organizations, business processes or reports to meet companies' business requirements in dynamic logic. These features make the implementation of ABAS projects rapidly. The statistic from ABAS Implementation Department shows that half of the ABAS projects come online in 2 to 3 months. What is more crucial is that the configuration in personalized modification for every client will not be affected in the process of system upgrade, thereby achieving the rapidity and security for users.

The product life cycle of EPR usually varies from 8 to 15 years. During its product life cycle, it is pivotal for ABAS to pay great attention on maintaining the consistency of the product on the underlying level, so as to provide the availability for clients to upgrade the system apart from the continuous complement and improvement in technology and function. Meanwhile, ABAS shows great concern on how to achieve automatically upgrade of the system. These are the root cause for ABAS in earning long-term trust from clients, and the system upgrade will ease worries and complaints from users.

The business software of ABAS adopts the advanced multi-layered structure to ensure personalization and flexibility with refined, concise and secure features as follows:
  • Refinement: ABAS provides a complete solution for corporations from CRM, production logistics management, MRP, CRP to EDI, finance management and corporate accounting. Applications of BI, mobile solution and DMS will be integrated simultaneously with the addition of ABAS Portal technology and e-commerce solution, thus provide the management tool and information platform for corporations through upper and lower level.
  • Simplicity: ABAS is a system based on different roles with users as its center. The ERP of ABAS emphasizes simplicity, visualization and process in the user interface. Users can complete the daily business operations on the basis of a single platform (including marketing and production), but also create statistical statements about sundry BI charts and views of Dashboard through simple drag-and-drop.
  • Security: ABAS is a set of ERP system crossing platforms and terminals. Especially in the server-side, ABAS can be operated on the Linux system with high performance and high stability. In the meantime, e-commerce solution of ABAS acquires the security certification from the Internet third-party organization. On the other hand, the annual upgrade of ABAS integrates with the latest technology and management ideas to make its system "advance with the times", so as to secure clients investment of ABAS.

ABAS , more than ERP
The German automobile is synonymous with high quality. Apart from high quality of the production, crucial features of price, service and delivery time constitute the four wheels of the automobile jointly. Only efficient coordination can highlight its excellent quality. The ABAS software derives from Germany in possession of the identical traits.

The potential target users of ABAS are: small and medium-sized corporations with global view, owning 50 to 3000 staffs with 10 to 300 concurrent users for the system. The over 30-year accumulation makes ABAS always reflect on problems and design the software on the behalf of small and medium-sized corporations. "To achieve efficient managements in corporations' business process, requirements usually above the primary functions of ERP rather than on the system application merely." ABAS observes. Therefore, the business software of ABAS provides abundant relevant components in application for users, including DMS, BI and mobile solution, apart from the supply of standard components of ERP; at the same time, it is quick and easy to integrate with other applications by the open interface of ABAS. Thereby, the management requirements of integration from marketing, cost accounting, procurement, production to the supply chain management are reached.

In addition, ABAS publishes the "abas ERP" for manufacture-oriented corporations, the "abas Distribution" for trade/distribution/service-oriented corporations, and the "abas eB" of e-commerce solutions.

Figure 3 - the complete solution of abas

In terms of the system delivery: in order to make the implementation process as secure and efficient as possible, ABAS develops a standard rule for success: global implementation methodology—abas GIM, thereby ensuring the abas system to be applied quickly.

Figure 4 - ABASGIM

In terms of the service: ABAS can provide services from hardware, network support to customization and hotline for clients with prompt response, and the offer of services in high quality. ABAS has the latest technology experience, and the widely profound knowledge of the industry in the field of IT and business management function. At present, ASAS has built a service network covering about 56 partners in 32 countries globally, and the network is still developing.
In terms of the price, it is a considerable competitive advantage of ABAS, but gives priority to productions, implementations and services.

The remorseless efforts witness business software of ABAS ranking first in customer satisfaction survey about ERP among institutions containing i2s,Trovarit、Konradin and the website called benchpark.com for many years. The chart below is a result of customer satisfaction surveyabout applying ERP in companies, which is conducted among 17 countriesof 1923 users in i2s by Zurich Consultant Company.

Figure 5- the global customer satisfaction surveyof ERP users in 2011

ERP - ABAS is on the Way
ERP will not be out of date. Notions of CRM, the document management, BI, the mobile application, the e-commerce and the portal did not developed 15 years ago, but now they have been integrated into the ERP system. With the development of the Cloud Computing in the future, ERP will enter into a more pleasant stage.
Accompanied by the evolution of IT, ERP shows its vitality continuously. On one hand, the application scope of ERP will deepen. Citing the application of ERP in manufacture as an example, the German corporations havebeen achieved the material requirements planning by MRP, most of which are based on the infinite capacity though, so the application on the basis of the limited capacity should be exploited deeper; on the other hand, the future application of ERP will be convenient and extensive. For example, hands (the mouse) are necessary in clicking on the screen in our application, while perhaps the gesture can carry out instructions in the future.

The development direction of the future new technology of ERP mainly embodies in the Mobile Application, the Internet of Things and the Cloud Computing:
  • The Mobile Application: nowadays, lots of software companies have published the mobile solutions. The ABAS' in the business software standard package make it possible for users visiting relevant datum of corporations via smart phones or tablet computers promptly. Employees from sales departments and after-sale service departments, for instance, can access and feed back the latest sale or service information in no time. What the future mobile application needs to solve is how to efficiently evade the restrictions on screens from the mobile terminal, and allows users to read easily.

Figure 6- abas mobile application Solutions

  • The Internet of Things: the popularity of the Internet of things makes it convenient to collect relevant datum and share the information through the system platform, which changes the existing work patters and habits greatly. For example, the EU implements e-Call and e-Safety plannings in the area of automobiles. The German automobile industry has required its automobile corporations to install e-Call system before 2015 necessarily, which brings the new challenge for ERP system.
  • The Cloud Computing: the Cloud Computing is the promotion of SAAS (Software-as-a-service) mode created five years ago. They are different in the relevant system structure with better computing ability than the whole data center. However, ERP is still ERP, whose realization of the function does not change essentially.

Mr. Peter Forscht, the COO of ABAS Software AG is the company’s leader with great affinity. During the interview, he patiently slows down the speed of speaking to make him understood; the preciseness and persistence of the German are reflected from him in the meantime. Establishing and developing ABAS for over 30 years are a good demonstration; in addition, Mr. Peter has special opinions on the development of IT, and has confidence in the future growth of ERP. In his words, there is no problem for him to work for another 50 years.
In short, ERP and ABAS are still on the way to opening up the market of China with brilliant prospect.

Mr. Peter Forscht (middle), the COO of ASAS Software AG and general manager Mr. Yang Lin of ABAS Force China on the left in the Figure

Moments in the interview

For Chinese version, please visit: http://www.e-works.net.cn/interview/leader_371.htm

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