A big leap forward – Peach Property switches to S/4HANA® with Fiori®
The Peach Property Group, a real estate investment firm headquartered in Zurich, has a renowned portfolio currently comprising around 23,000 apartments in Germany. Their business model rests on a specialisation in high-yield properties. The company primarily invests in medium-sized cities in the commuter belt metropolitan areas. Over 95 percent of the real estate portfolio is located in Germany, largely in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The company has continuously expanded its portfolio in recent years, adding more than 10,000 apartments to its portfolio in 2020 alone.
As a result of this growth, Peach Property found itself in need of an appropriate ERP software that could keep pace with its expansion. The tools used previously could no longer meet the company’s requirements. While the cross-industry version of the SAP Business ByDesign® cloud solution contained a complete financial accounting system, it lacked the necessary functions for real estate management. For this reason, a separate solution had to be used in the past. Over time, however, this solution had become too small to adequately reflect the strong growth and the many portfolio changes. The aim was therefore to merge both functional areas into one solution.
Kurt Witzler, project manager at Peach Property
Sought and found
There were several motivations for switching to the new SAP product. From a functional point of view, S/4HANA® delivers everything the company needs – from financial accounting and controlling to asset management and a technical connection to the company’s trusted in-house CRM system and app. “S/4HANA® is versatile and highly compatible with our other solutions,” says Kurt Witzler, project manager at Peach Property, in explaining the decision to consolidate. “Centralised data management promotes the rapid flow of information across all areas and using the Fiori® user interface guarantees our employees easy access to our systems,” Witzler adds.
The device-independent application of SAP® using Fiori® – and this across all business processes – is ideally suited for the company’s decentralised organisational structure. Regardless of their location, users benefit from easy, fast access in daily handling, for example to maintain rental properties, create contracts or call up evaluations (Figure 1). The company is already familiar with Fiori® from its predecessor tool. “We knew from the start that we wanted to use Fiori®. We’ve had good experiences with the access interface for our transactions. In the future, we also want to precisely monitor our workflows using the launchpad,” Witzler says of the plans to expand the solution.
Figure 1: The Fiori® launchpad grants Peach Property employees a quick, central access point for their IT platform.
Change on the fast track
When the system went live on 1 January 2020, the 95 users of the new system initially received a functionally standardised work station. A role-based version of the launchpad for the respective user groups will follow in Phase 2. The company decided early on to use this two-part approach to shorten the project duration. From the kick-off in mid-September, the project team led by Kurt Witzler and Elena Fuchs, project manager at PROMOS consult, had only 15 weeks until the planned go-live date. It was an ambitious endeavour, explains Fuchs: “We had to focus on the most important building blocks for implementation right from the start. Accounting, controlling, contract management, rental accounting, operating costs – everything that Peach Property needs to run its business. There was no room for extra bells and whistles. Rather, Peach Property can now benefit from the proven PROMOS solution portfolio, and that in record time!” No system has ever been set up faster at PROMOS. Thanks to close cooperation, tight planning with precise timing, and trust in the support from PROMOS as the implementation partner, the switch at Peach Property was implemented as planned.
Driven to the top
The introduction of S/4HANA® and easysquare workflow puts the company processes at the centre of attention. The ERP system acts as a central source for the documentation of all processes. Status information, workflows and business decisions are visible at a glance, forming an ideal link between business and IT. The company is now going one step further by digitising one of its most document-intensive processes. Instead of simply doing away with incoming paper invoices, Peach Property will be implementing entirely automated processing of all incoming invoices in the future.
In line with the goal of “accounting without the accountant”, the necessary manual work steps are reduced to a minimum. This means that once the incoming invoices are delivered in digital form by the external scanning service provider, all accounting-relevant document data can be automatically extracted from the documents and entered for account assignment. S/4HANA® and easysquare workflow take over the work at this point (Figure 2). Thanks to automatic processor finding and pre-defined check and release processes, the responsible employees only have to confirm the release with a single click or tap. The subsequent posting takes place automatically. The manual activities typical of invoice processing, such as issuing invoice stamps, manual forwarding to responsible colleagues or initial account assignment, are completely eliminated. This considerably shortens internal forwarding and coordination paths.
Freed up resources can once again be used to generate value. “Despite the growth, we want to increase our operational efficiency even further. Having too much manual effort for recurring activities such as invoice verification will not get us there,” says Witzler, explaining the reasoning behind the plan. He adds that the changes go beyond just the invoice receipt workflow. “The process improvements, both big and small, give our 170 employees the opportunity to focus on high-quality tasks that contribute to the company’s success, which is reflected in high levels of customer satisfaction. And that is absolutely our highest priority.”
Figure 2: The invoice receipt workflow with easysquare automates processing so that only the release must be issued manually.
The course is set for growth
Peach Property has made the bold leap to a new ERP system. The project’s success is ultimately all thanks to the close cooperation between the two companies. The cooperation was solution-oriented and grounded in partnership. “Although the deadline was the greatest challenge, we successfully completed the functional and integration tests and have been able to implement all measures on time and according to plan so far,” Fuchs concludes. “The approach was strongly focused on the go-live deadline. This made for a successful transformation!” And the initial feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. With S/4HANA®, Peach Property benefits from performance advantages and welcomes the rapid access to data and information. “We are pleased that a fully digital platform was able to go live under the tight deadlines which is very easy to use while also flexibly mapping the integration of our new properties,” Witzler sums up. With the new IT platform, the technical course is set for further growth.