Business Engineering

Danway Electrical & Engineering’s data was unstructured, disorganised and for the most part inaccessible.

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Business Engineering L-R: Amit Bansal and Girish Thakur.
By  Greg Wilson Published  April 6, 2016

Despite the scope and value of construction projects in the region, few contractors have yet to leverage information technology to enhance business operations.

IT tends to exist at the periphery of the core business and rarely as a pivotal enabler. Even potentially transformative technologies, such as building information modelling (BIM) applications are rarely deployed to their full potential.

Core business applications are typically a mix of isolated, bespoke systems, developed over time, with limited functionality.

For most contractors, being more competitive means finding ways to build faster and cheaper — it doesn’t include building an integrated application environment that allows for greater sharing of data and transparency over the business.

However, Danway Electrical & Mechanical Engineering (EME), a UAE-based MEP contractor, has given itself a competitive edge with an SAP rollout.

The project, which started with process studies at the tail end of 2012 and finished just over a year later, saw the firm migrate away from its collection of standalone, in-house developed applications with a comprehensive SAP project and embrace best business practices.

“All our data was in silos,” says Amit Bansal, chief financial officer, Danway EME.

“Nothing was integrated, so to retrieve data to make reports for management was taking too much time,” he adds.

Since 2008, Danway EME’s parent company, Al Nowais Investments (ANI) had been considering a group-wide ERP implementation to address similar reporting issues in its other business units. In 2011, it had opted for SAP at the group level and rolled out the enterprise software in its FMCG division. “Some of the companies were using Microsoft Great Plains [now Dynamics] and other companies were [using] home grown solutions,” explains Girish Thakur, group IT manager, ANI.

“These were information silos… all the information was coming into the head office in bits and pieces,” he adds.

SAP’s functional breadth was key in winning the group account. The management team wanted an ERP system that would unify reporting and business processes across its diverse interests.

After looking closely at Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle’s E-business Suite, Al Nowais Investments opted for SAP. “We spent a long time asking ‘what is right for us?’,” says Thakur.

“We narrowed it down by going through each component. We found that SAP was the only solution that unified the business. There were integrated touch points that suited many industries… If we had gone with another product, we would have had to go back to silos,” he adds.

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