American Air Filter Europe unifies ERP under S/4HANA

Data cleansing proves key to migrating a hodgepodge of ERP systems in 14 countries to a unified sales and warehouse strategy in SAP’s cloud.

integration / exchange / unification / cohesion / unified blocks
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When Angelika Schwartz joined American Air Filter Europe as head of IT in October 2018, the company had already committed to SAP S/4HANA to replace a sprawling set of ERP systems across a growing international portfolio.

Responsibility for IT operations previously lay with AAFE’s vice president of finance, controlling, and IT, working with an external interim IT manager, but with the company’s expansion and the scale of the migration in store that was no longer tenable so it tapped Schwartz, who had experience rolling out SAP as a veteran of the insurance and industrial chemicals industries.

Schwartz’s immediate challenge was to align the business processes and ERP systems of 16 legal entities in 14 European countries, including those of Dinair Group, acquired by AAFE just two years earlier. The various subsidiaries relied on a rich variety of systems, ranging from a pen and paper or spreadsheets for some processes to an AS/400 for others. They used Pyramid Business Studio in the Nordic countries, Navision in Finland, Exact in Spain, and Infor in Germany, Austria, and France.

“All the systems were too local or too small or too old,” Schwartz says, adding that her colleagues have been eager to get their hands on a new ERP system.

Still, the necessary cultural change is big: Rather than each company having the freedom to define its own processes and customize IT systems to fit, AAFE has adopted the one-size-fits-all approach of S/4HANA in SAP’s cloud, defining a single template that will be applied to all its sales companies, with another template for its manufacturing businesses to follow.

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