Supported employment provider Bewel takes to the cloud: Belgium’s first transition from ECC to SAP Private Cloud

Jan 13, 2022
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The supported employment provider Bewel has committed to further innovation and is launching a new strategic IT plan. With some 2,200 employees across nine branches in Limburg, the company has set out its policies for the years ahead. In the area of IT, it is clearly focussing on the cloud.

Bewel provides tailor-made activities to fully support businesses, including packaging, assembly, preparing garments for retail sale, quality control and the maintenance of green company environments or public spaces. 

“Our customers expect us to have smooth-running and dependable processes, and to be competitive,” says Marc Steegmans, Bewel’s IT Director. “For this to be possible, it is essential that, as a company , we can rely on properly running business processes. This is all reflected neatly in our new strategic IT plan.”

Cloud first 

Deciding on cloud solutions was one of Bewel’s most critical strategic lines of action. The decision was based on various factors, including cost efficiency, the possibility of future expansion, and availability at all times and on all devices.

Outlining the new policy also involved an analysis of the existing SAP environment. “We soon realized that we needed to replace our servers and that we had to consider how we would take our SAP platform into the next generation,” continues Marc Steegmans. “Following our cloud-first approach, SAP S/4HANA, with its Private Cloud aspect, was proposed at a meeting with our SAP partner delaware.” 

Bewel was immediately convinced by its advantages. SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud is a one-stop-shop solution that reduces the IT partners to two. It not only provides cloud functionality but also means a considerable reduction in the SAP environment’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This is a very welcome aspect for a non-profit organization such as Bewel.      

Two-phase approach

Bewel deliberately opted for a two-phase approach with this new solution. Marc Steegmans: “Our starting point was a traditional, on-premises ECC environment, and we wanted to separate the underlying change from the impact on the business. We have now moved our SAP environment entirely to the cloud and migrated our database to SAP S/4HANA, so the underlying structure has been fully replaced.”

In this first phase, the changes for the users are limited to what is strictly necessary. New functionalities will gradually become available in the next phase. The 350 users will receive guidance on a step-by-step basis.  

Bewel provides employment for people with a distance to the labor market. As one of Limburg’s largest employers, the supported employment provider also invests in its employees’ future. Next year, Bewel will use SAP SuccessFactors – which can be included in its chosen solution – to make improvements in terms of competence management, training and employee development.

Unique dynamics for project in Limburg

The human aspect was key in Bewel's choice of delaware as implementation partner. Indeed, there is a very close cultural match between the two organizations. “Bewel has a clear vision on its needs for an ERP system in that it wants to use standard functionalities and cost-efficient IT management. We at delaware fully agree with that. We have a lot in common and make a great team with the customer’s interests being key,” says Patrick Carmans, Senior Manager at delaware. “We were also able to include Bewel in SAP’s early adopter programme for the Private Cloud, introduced under the name RISE. This was an excellent opportunity for Bewel because we immediately achieved a double benefit for them: by upgrading the old SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA, and by making a complete move to the cloud, towards Software as a Service.”

Marc Steegmans: “As a local supported employment provider with a strong focus on Limburg, the international collaboration with SAP teams in India, Dubai, and the Philippines was very enriching for us. It made for a special dynamic in a project that has a very local character.”

Confidence in the future

Bewel was one of the first organizations in Belgium to move from an on-premises ECC environment to the SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud. 

“We are extremely proud of this project,” says Stijn De Beuckelaer, Managing Director of SAP Belgium & Luxembourg. “Supported employment providers have an essential role to play in our society. They are often thought to lag behind in terms of business management, but nothing could be further from the truth. This cloud project makes Bewel one of the leaders of the pack.” 

It was a smooth transition, and the project was carried out within the set scope, timing, and budget. The results are also in line with expectations. The new environment is considerably more efficient and saves a lot of money on the TCO. SAP running costs have been reduced by 25%, which will also help finance the second phase.    

“The transition from an ERP system that is used by most employees in one way or another should not be underestimated. Confidence is very high because the first phase went so smoothly and provided the perfect basis for the next phase,” concludes Marc Steegmans.

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