PROMOS turns 25 – What does rapid growth look like over a quarter of a century?

This year, PROMOS consult turns 25 years old. What started out quite small with 13 employees has grown very quickly – today PROMOS advises over 125 customers in the most diverse areas of the real estate world. PROMOS develops and integrates a wide range of digital applications and solutions for various companies – whether they are well-known large companies or up-and-coming small businesses, whether in the area of housing, commercial real estate, property management, maintenance, construction or administration. To mark its 25th anniversary, PROMOS is taking a look back at the past. The first part of this retrospective series is about the beginnings of PROMOS, the employees, the OpenPromos user forum and the longest-standing partnerships.

The beginning

A lot has happened in 25 years. Anyone who owned a mobile phone before the year 2000 was either very interested in technology or desperate to stand out. The first mobile device came on the market as early as 1983, but the nickname “bone” suggests how practical and convenient this phone really was. It would take a while before the mobile phone found widespread popularity. It was not until the current millennium that a new era in mobile telephony began. When a team from Berlin decided in 1998 to break away from the VEBA Group (today the energy group E.ON) and become independent, they had no idea what was in store for them and the whole world in terms of technology. Who could have guessed back then, after the first clunky and unwieldy mobile phones, that in 2023 virtually everyone would have a thin, practical and high-performance computer in their pocket? And that it could be used not only to make phone calls, but also to take professional photos and videos in the highest resolution, listen to music, watch films in high quality and access more or less the entire knowledge of the world?

In 25 years, technology has experienced rapid growth, driven by science, new technologies and, above all, digitisation. This places high demands on a consulting and systems company that develops digital solutions and helps real estate companies to develop and refine digitisation concepts. The 13-member Berlin team may not have been aware of this at the time, but they were more than ready to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that this new world held in store for them. On 22 April 1998, at a contract signing ceremony at Ku'damm 70, PROMOS was born. Why the name? The team consisted of enthusiastic mountaineers and named their first system PROMOS after the mountain of the same name in the Carnic Alps. An interesting fun fact is that the tradition has remained to this day; up to now, 307 servers have been named after mountains, thus forming a long mountain range. And a large part of that team is still working at PROMOS 25 years later! The evidence is provided by two photos – same place, same people and a 20-year time difference.

Gründungsteam der PROMOS consult

Figure 1: On the left, the founding team in 1998 on the Jannowitz Bridge, on the right, the team in 2018.

Numerous solutions that PROMOS developed back in those early days are still in use today at many companies and are constantly being adapted to the technical demands of a modern world. Twenty-two years ago, OpenPromos Corporate Correspondence (OPCC) was released, a PROMOS proprietary solution for the intuitive management of individual correspondence using Microsoft® Word within the SAP® application. It is still as much in demand today as it was then and has only recently been optimised for use in SAP Fiori®, marking another milestone in the product’s history. Solutions such as these are characteristic of the development and success of the Berlin consultancy. This naturally leaves its mark, as René Libbert, software architect at PROMOS knows, effortlessly recalling the birth of OPCC: “That was 5 April 2001 – I still remember it as if it were yesterday.”

Shared growth in numbers

Today, it is not only the founding members who work at PROMOS, but also quite a few more. Nowadays, the company comprises several large teams – consulting, service and sales/marketing. The company’s areas are growing and growing – in 2009, 52 people worked in the consulting area; today the number of consultants has almost doubled. This makes it Europe’s largest consulting team for real estate-related SAP® consulting. Twenty-five years ago, the Berlin team consisted of 13 people; today, PROMOS has a total of over 270 employees.

PROMOS is a training company and promotes young talent. So it is hardly surprising that many of the PROMOS employees are quite young – around 72 of the employees are under 30. PROMOS has always been a diverse team with employees of different ages, backgrounds and genders. Hence, all generations are represented in the large PROMOS team – about 100 of the staff are between 30 and 50 years old and more than 20 are over 50. What do they have to say about PROMOS? In the second part of this retrospective article, they give their own account of their experiences in one of the largest consulting firms for the real estate sector.

Jubiläum des OpenPromos Anwenderforums

Figure 2: Consultant and training manager Patricia Ringel has been guiding users through the programme at the OpenPromos User Forum for many years.

The forum for innovation in the real estate industry

In 2003, Mars was particularly close to Earth, Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California and ... the first OpenPromos User Forum took place! With the desire to create a place for constructive exchange and knowledge transfer around topics related to digitisation in the real estate industry, the PROMOS team issued invitations to a congress. At the time, they were still a young company with big goals. Presentations by reference customers, new information on product development, the handling of construction projects and preparation for an SAP release change were to be part of the programme. The congress was a resounding success and was named the OpenPromos User Forum (OPUF). The evening events in particular have always delighted visitors and have been held in the most unusual locations, such as in the Natural History Museum, in the Soho House or at the Frankfurter Tor. The credo “practical experience for practical application” is still a compelling one today. In 2023 the 16th OpenPromos User Forum will take place in Berlin with the motto “We’re flying high on digitisation”.

Successful and long-standing partnerships – Part 1

PROMOS consists not only of talented and ambitious people who work for the company, but also of successful and sometimes very long-standing partnerships. These business relationships are the origin of many digital solutions and innovative applications. After all, most of them were developed on behalf of or in cooperation with forward-looking companies. One of these is ProPotsdam GmbH, one of the oldest customers of PROMOS and a regular guest at the OPUF. ProPotsdam Managing Director Jörn-Michael Westphal and Monika Gräf, head of the Information and Communication department, were present at the OpenPromos User Forum 2003 and gave two of the 23 presentations at the first OPUF. Westphal spoke about a digital property management book and Gräf delighted the guests with an exciting presentation about modern business management in the year 2003. Since the beginning of the collaboration 22 years ago, many solutions have been introduced and workflows optimised. For example, a quality management and safety precautions solution was introduced at the municipally owned business association of the state capital Potsdam in 2015. With the help of the easysquare app, the employees can now check the real estate objects, their infrastructures, and potential sources of danger and damage at any time using an iPad. Since the introduction of the solution, the company has recorded increased work efficiency and networking as well as documentation of the safety precautions inspection with no media discontinuity.

Informationstechnologie und Immobilien (IT&I) Ausgabe Nr. 37 / Mai 2024

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The large housing and service company DOGEWO21 is also one of the longest-standing customers, having worked successfully with PROMOS for 21 years. As part of this partnership, many workflows have been digitised, such as the deposit payout with easysquare workflow. For the employees, this made their work much easier, as this administrative workflow is now automated and without media discontinuity. The tenants also benefited from this collaboration, since with the introduction of the tenant app in 2021, this innovative company digitised many workflows related to rental agreements – such as the monthly consumption information. Armin Nedden from DOGEWO did not miss the opportunity to attend the first OpenPromos user forum in 2003, with two presentations on the development and introduction of a craftsmen portal solution. Twenty years later, Klaus Graniki, Managing Director of DOGEWO21, is also actively involved in a political discussion panel at OPUF 2023.

GEWOBAG Wohnungsbau-Aktiengesellschaft is a municipal housing company with over 74,000 homes and 130,000 tenants. Their cooperation with PROMOS began 22 years ago and continues to this day. With easysquare workflow, a fully integrated rental debt consulting service was introduced in 2014 and the entire workflow has been fully automated in the SAP® system at GEWOBAG ever since. They will also be represented at OPUF 2023.

Of course, that’s not all by any means. After all, many new ERP systems have been introduced over the past 25 years and companies have been supported during the change from one system to another. Complete packages or just smaller sub-products have been installed, internally developed applications have been specially customised for customers and external solutions have also been installed for companies. The diverse range of solutions is brimming with interesting partnerships and innovative solutions, which is why further projects will be presented in part two of “25 years of PROMOS”.

To be continued…

Well, quite a lot has already been covered in this first retrospective article, but there is still much to come. In the second article on “25 years of PROMOS”, employees talk about their experiences at the Berlin consultancy in the chapter “Shared growth in quotes”. Other exciting projects and collaborations are also presented. Finally, we also take a look into the future, as digitisation in the real estate industry has many extraordinary innovations in store. The next issue of IT&I with the follow-up article will be published in October.

Mitarbeitendenwachstum in 25 Jahren PROMOS

Figure 3: From a team of 13 founders, over the course of 25 years, has grown a strong, medium-sized company with 270 employees.


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