ERP changeover at electrical engineering company HUBER+SUHNER in Switzerland


The Swiss technology firm HUBER+SUHNER decided to install SAP throughout the entire Group to get all the administrative and operational divisions onto the same system. But the large number of complicated internal processes initially meant that the planned time schedule could not be met. Several attempts to complete the implementation failed to achieve lasting success. That was when the management decided to commission Globalise with the management of the project.


Globalise, represented on the steering committee by Managing Partner Rainer Nagel and an IT project management expert, recommended a change of strategy. A strict standardization of the processes across three autonomous company divisions couldn’t work. The management went along with the proposal and decided to change course. Processes were harmonized and standardizations derived from them. The rollout in Switzerland s acted as a successful blueprint.

Interview with
Urs Ryffel
Member of the Executive Board at HUBER SUHNER

“We have 60,000 articles in our range. That makes things immensely complex.”

Key goals of the global ERP changeover

  • Efficiency in sales
  • Flexibility in production
  • Transparency of inventories and resources
  • Basis for innovations

The project for installing a group-wide ERP system was at a crossroads. How did the Globalise manager give it a fresh start?

First of all by listening, combined with a keen understanding of the situation and analytical ability. He made it clear that we had to further define the concepts if the implementation was to be a success. In contrast to the plan, he recommended piloting the SAP installation in Switzerland rather than Germany. The production share is much higher and more complex there – and that was where it was best to start aligning the processes.

More than three years of work wasted?

No. And that was the first big success of the Globalise manager. He didn’t allow that impression to be created, even among the people on the project. It goes without saying that they were pretty frustrated and demotivated at the time.

ERP changeover at electrical engineering company HUBER+SUHNER in Switzerland
  • “System readiness”: creating the template and configuration of the SAP system
  • “Business readiness”: changing the corporate processes and preparing the organization
  • “User readiness”: training our staff
  • “Operation Readiness”: adjusting- “Operational readiness”: fine-tuning the IT infrastructure, configuration management and support after go-live

Correcting mistakes is a sign of intelligence

After two years and two postponed go-lives in Germany, the people responsible for the project, headed by Urs Ryffel, made an uncomfortable decision – they changed course with an Globalise project manager at the helm.

How did the Globalise manager structure the project?

A project team of around 150 employees and external experts was established as the central decision-making unit for managing and coordinating the project. All the jobs that dneeded to be done were allocated to four work streams.

After go-live, the contract was extended in Switzerland. Why?

After the successful launch, we also entrusted Globalise with a partial implementation of the system in China – the biggest milestone in the . The goglobal rollout. Go-live in China went according to schedule and the Globalise manager even succeeded in staying well below budget with his team. Both of these accomplishments were extremely important in building confidence in the project throughout the entire organization before the big rollout.

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