The largest paint manufacturer in central and eastern Africa, Crown Berger Kenya Ltd. looks to the future with ambitious plans for growth. With locations throughout Kenya, Crown Berger wanted to link enterprise operations and processes. To enable expansion, the company needed to drive efficiencies and improve information management to help executives make good decisions quickly. Crown Berger chose the SAP Business One application to help connect and coordinate the organization, increase process control and transparency, and improve efficiency.

Facing the Challenges

Like many small businesses and midsize companies, Crown Berger was looking for ways to thrive in a tough economic environment. Founded in 1958, in the past five decades Crown Berger had expanded its operations continuously, growing to eight locations throughout Kenya, with customers across the region and business partners from Europe to Asia. But its growth led to operational disconnects and silos of disparate data and processes, and it revealed the shortcomings of the company’s out-dated legacy systems. Crown Berger lacked real-time visibility into transactions and business processes, and manual data entry activities were slow, repetitive, and prone to errors.

Given the volume of its operations and its plans for growth, the company faced significant technological hurdles. Crown Berger produces 12 million litres of paint per year, with revenues of approximately US$27 million. Dedicated to winning and keeping customers by making high quality products, the company offers a large and diverse range of them – decorative, industrial, marine, and automotive paints, as well as coatings, resins, and finishes. But this important competitive advantage brings with it special challenges. The company has a high degree of stock complexity and needed to get a handle on inventory costs – without sacrificing quality or customer choice and service. To address these issues, Crown Berger sought to improve process transparency, efficiency, and control.

The company needed to get the right data to the right people across the organization to boost productivity and enable better decision making.

Streamlining and Integrating Processes and Data

To make its planned growth happen, Crown Berger knew it was necessary to connect operations and streamline processes across all its departments and locations. The company needed to respond quickly to customer demands and move with speed and agility in an ever-changing marketplace. “We wanted a software solution that would integrate our data and processes and enable us to react fast to events both inside the company and throughout our business ecosystem,” says Temesi Munyendo, head of information technology at Crown Berger.

Crown Berger implemented SAP Business One to integrate and connect processes throughout its organization. With the solution, the company improved sales, purchasing, production, inventory, distribution, finance, reporting, and IT maintenance processes. By automating and integrating enterprise processes, the solution has bolstered productivity, letting business user’s focus on value-added activities instead of rote processes. “We needed an application that would enable senior managers to concentrate on growing the business and manage by exception instead of following people around,” says Munyendo.

“We wanted a software solution that would integrate our data and processes and enable us to react fast to events both inside the company and throughout our business ecosystem.” Temesi Munyendo, Head of Information Technology, Crown Berger Kenya Ltd.

SAP Software a Good Match

Crown Berger chose SAP software because, like the products it offers its own customers, the company wanted the best – a world-class solution with powerful, user-friendly functionality that would empower business users from the warehouse floor to the executive suite. With SAP Business One, the company knew it was choosing a solution that would serve it now and in the days to come.

Smooth Implementation

Working with implementation partner Bluekey Software Solutions (K) Ltd., Crown Berger accomplished the initial deployment on schedule, in approximately 15 weeks, without any significant disruption to daily business activities. The application was deployed to 165 business users over a wide area network at seven locations across Kenya. To date, this was the largest implementation of SAP Business One in Africa, and the company’s partner in the process played a key role. “Choosing the right implementation partner is important,” says Munyendo. “You need people with industry experience, with the capacity to handle complex projects.”

A Full Palette of Benefits

With SAP Business One, Crown Berger has integrated and streamlined processes and data across the enterprise. The application has helped the company free managers from overseeing daily activities and searching for information in disconnected databases and point solutions. Automated triggers and alerts enable management by exception and let executives focus on continuous improvement, growth, and big-picture strategic goals. The automatic enforcement of internal controls and business rules – such as restricting sales below a target gross profit – has improved productivity and efficiency. Precise, timely information has facilitated better decision making by managers and business users across the organization.

With the application, Crown Berger has sped up transaction times. Senior management receives information in a timelier manner, and streamlined approval processes enable them to make decisions more quickly and seize market opportunities.

Crown Berger has improved inventory management, reducing stock levels and freeing up approximately $2.6 million in working capital – without limiting customer choice, its critical competitive advantage. SAP Business One has enabled the company to improve its debtor management, reducing debtor days (the number of days it takes on average to receive payment) by 50%. The company has strengthened profits by controlling gross profits at the transactional level.

“SAP Business One helps make daily operations more efficient, saving valuable time that can be spent on strategic planning, satisfying customers, and achieving profitable growth,” says Rakesh Rao, chief executive officer at Crown Berger. The company expects to realize overall return on its investment in the software within two years.

“We needed an application that would enable senior managers to concentrate on growing the business and manage by exception instead of following people around.”

Looking to the Future

With the implementation of the SAP Business One application, Crown Berger is now in position to forge ahead with plans for growing its product line and geographical reach. The company plans to expand its presence in Uganda, enter the market in Tanzania, and increase its range of product offerings in Kenya. With greater process efficiency across the organization, its employees are more productive, and management is better informed and equipped to move fast, satisfying existing customers and winning new ones.

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