A few years ago, the largest European asset-based road freight transportation company, Girteka, set off on an ambitious transformation journey, striving to become the leading sustainable digital logistics company in the continent. To ensure the continuation of its high-quality transportation services, the carrier, which employs 23,000 professionals, including 19,500 drivers, has launched a game-changing modernisation program. The aim of the program is to implement multiple SAP solutions and optimise the company’s business processes through digitalization.
Until recently, most of Girteka‘s core business processes were managed using Microsoft Dynamics Axapta (AX) 2009 software. But the AX 2009 is coming to the end of its support lifecycle and will no longer be upgraded. Getting a new version of the system would require new implementation, which would take just as much time and effort as implementing a completely new system. What the company needed was a modern core platform that could support innovative solutions and technologies (like Amazon AWS, for example), as well as consistent and reliable data that would enable the automation of processes (such as estimated time of arrival, or ETA, calculations).
And so, Girteka’s management decided that the best approach is to go with a completely new solution. Dozens of business and transport management solutions currently available on the market were examined to find the one that best meets the company’s strategic goals. In selecting the new products, the Transportation Management System (TMS) was a priority, as fleet and logistics management is a key functionality for the company’s continued successful growth. A dedicated team spent more than a year analysing various leading TMS solutions and ultimately decided that SAP would best meet Girteka’s criteria.
“If you look at the market, SAP has probably created one of the best Transportation Management System (TMS) solutions for the industry that Girteka specializes in. This is how our journey started. If we want a tool that enables an organization to work with, let’s say, 300,000 employees, at that level, most organizations use SAP, because the software can support organizations of that size. Girteka is growing very strongly, and we need tools that can support our journey,” says Julius Česnakauskas, SAP Development Manager at Girteka.
With many different software products to offer, SAP is a leading business software developer, serving roughly 300,000 customers in 190 countries. Major companies all over the world have chosen SAP solutions for their business management, including Coca-Cola, Ford, Apple, Unilever, Amazon, eBay, DHL, Nestle, etc. What was important for Girteka is that SAP is constantly developing and implementing new technologies and increasing market share in terms of business applications and analytical solutions. Another important factor in choosing the future system was SAP’s partners, including hyperscalers (large cloud, networking, and internet service providers) like Microsoft, Alibaba, Amazon, Google, and IBM, who bring best practices and could help Girteka develop future processes.
To implement the modernization at Girteka, in 2020, a program called “ENABLE” was launched comprising a team of more than 200 specialists. The goal of the modernization program is to help the company optimize, enhance, and digitalize business processes by implementing and moving to the SAP suite of products including S/4 Hana, SuccessFactors and Business Technology Platform by 2026. The “ENABLE” program includes four key projects related to the implementation of SAP solutions. The projects were all started in different business units at different times, and each one runs at its own speed of implementation. But the first milestones have already been achieved:
Since Q3 2022, all Girteka Europe West clients and their transportation orders (from customer quotes and contracts, to forwarding and settlement of orders) will be managed through the SAP Transportation Management System (SAP TMS). The next phase of the project will deliver subcontracting, planning, and execution of orders’ processes. Integration with Nexogen’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) based tools for fleet optimization, namely the AI Planner and the AI Operator, will also be carried out.
From Q1 2023, all employees based in Lithuania are managed through the SAP SuccessFactors System (SAP SF), covering recruitment, hiring, onboarding, professional development, time management and retirement. The system provides self-service capabilities for employees to manage personal and team information. SAP SF will also be implemented for Girteka’s drivers, under the “DriversGO” initiative, and will oversee driver management from onboarding to offboarding.
From Q1 2023, Girteka’s newly established Competence Center’s processes were moved to SAP Enterprise Resources Planning (SAP ERP). The ERP solution (SAP S/4HANA), aimed at the modernization of the company’s supply chain, with centralized procurement, finance, accounting, management, and intercompany processes has already been launched. The next project phase will see the implementation of the SAP solution for units responsible for truck lifecycle and maintenance processes.
From Q1 2023, the most used Sales/Commerce and Procurement reports were launched on the SAP Analytics cloud and Datasphere platform, including the roll-out of a data warehouse and new data analysis tools, as well as the creation and revision of data models.
The implementation of SAP solutions started in Lithuania, and from this year onwards, the roll-out to other countries is being gradually developed to support other business operations. Girteka is a large organization and runs more than 50 separate entities in 11 countries. This means that we need to localize SAP solutions to match each country’s legal and regulatory requirements, which adds a level of complexity to the whole program.
SAP products come with a set of pre-defined processes that must be configured and customized to fulfil Girteka’s business requirements. As SAP is not the only system in the company, it also needs to be connected to other systems at Girteka to build an integrated enterprise, reduce double data entry points and increase efficiency in operations. This is one of the reasons why the implementation of SAP solutions has been designed to be completed over a stretch of several years.
The “ENABLE” modernization program’s teams are using the SAP Activate methodology, which is very similar to the Agile project management framework: agile life cycles are composed of several iterations or incremental steps towards the completion of a project. Launch of any new system is incremental, rather than linear, so the project team can get feedback on implemented functionality and adjust as they go along. Each project goes through the same several stages of implementation.
A large role in this modernization is played by implementation partners (TietoEvery, ArchLynk, LeverX, IBM, etc.). At the start of the modernization journey, Girteka had neither experience nor competence in SAP implementation and business transformation execution. Building an experienced internal team would take a lot of time, while an implementation partner can provide a competent team within a few months. During the analysis phase, partners not only showed Girteka’s teams how systems operate and explained key capabilities, but also provided insights on where the company might have benefited from automation or even a complete process change.
“There is always the way that you can just install the software and let it run, but will it be what the business really needs? Businesses need to think about how they want to work and what model works best. In some cases, it may even be necessary to transform the organization as it works at present. It does not take that much time to install software and equipment, as it does to figure out how you want to work and make a transformation in the organization. Change, its management is the most difficult part in all organizations,” states Česnakauskas.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, it became clear that running a successful enterprise without modernization and digitalization can be difficult. Digitalization offers tools for rapid, intelligent decision-making and service development. Modernization of business processes means better productivity and simplified internal processes, which in turn creates the basis for achieving the highest standards of transport management.
Today, by implementing SAP solutions at Girteka, we are also developing processes of business digitalization. SAP solutions based on AI, machine learning technologies, focus on user interface, self-service, and performance allows the company to solve major data usage challenges. As a standardized and fully integrated solution, it simplifies and automates complex logistics and administration processes, enabling to do work more efficiently while maintaining the same amount of people.
For instance, previously, the company had more than 25 data analytics sources. By combining them into a homogenous SAP business data analytics environment (SAP Datasphere), employees from various departments using the platform have access to reliable data from a single “source of truth”. Another example is SAP SF, which eliminates the demand for over 20 separate systems. With SAP SF, each person can track and manage their personal data, performance, benefits, salary, vacation, enter overtime, etc., all in one system. Managers get easy and expanded access to data and performance results of their team members and can manage their recruitment process.
“Our organization has been able to implement new solutions that were previously simply unavailable. For instance, an employee can now check his/her holiday balance on a mobile phone in just two minutes. Soon, a driver will be able to make business trip expense reports on his mobile device. It is a big transformation,” says Martynas Sarapinas, Chief Information Officer at Girteka.
“These advances have enabled us to work more efficiently and effectively using modern mobile tools, regardless of location or time of day. This is particularly important as a large number of our employees work remotely or are on the road. It is particularly gratifying to know that these changes will positively impact not only on the administration, but the entire organization – from our drivers to our top management,” he adds.
SAP solutions allow to streamline the company’s processes and all its data, resulting in sound internal processes and increased reliability of the company itself. Optimized and standardized business processes are essential to the successful growth of the company, which is exactly what Girteka aims to continue to do. At the end of the day, what we want is to ensure that the company can make fast decisions based on correct and complete data, adapt our work to the current situation and meet our clients’ needs in the best way possible.
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