Why BC updates matter
Interview with Helmut Fabian Kretschmer and Florian Stadlmayr, Paul M. Müller
Paul M. Müller has been using the sophisticated trade solution of agiles since November 2015. The business software is based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC) and was developed specifically for importers and exporters in international trade as well as for chain store owners, wholesalers, and consumer goods retailers. To benefit optimally from the software solution, regular updates are highly recommended. Paul M. Müller therefore updated to a newer version of BC this summer. In this interview, Managing Director Helmut Fabian Kretschmer and EDP Manager Florian Stadlmayr talk about their experiences with the BC update.
«That’s why our heart for food doesn’t start beating until 5 kg.»
Before we start – could you briefly introduce yourself and the company Paul M. Müller?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: I’m one of the two managing directors of Paul M. Müller and have been working for the company since 2013. My main activities in the company are purchasing and sales. By the way, I’m the one who brought agiles and Paul M. Müller together.
Florian Stadlmayr: I moved from Hamburg to the south and have been working in the EDP department of Paul M. Müller for two or three years now. I already had experience with Navision but didn’t know agiles yet.
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: Paul M. Müller imports preserved foods and specializes in bulk and industrial consumers. That’s why our heart for food doesn’t start beating until 5 kg. For industrial consumers, we supply barrels of up to 220 kg. The bulk consumer sector accounts for about 80% of our turnover, the rest is industrial consumers.
How exactly did the collaboration with agiles come about?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: I already worked very closely with agiles at my previous employer. When I joined Paul M. Müller in 2013, they had an outdated enterprise resource planning system, and we were faced with the challenge of looking for a suitable solution. There were several providers on our shortlist, and we finally opted for agiles.
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer,
«We do updates because we don’t want to miss anything, and we always want to be up to date.»
When did you decide to take on the update project?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: We made this decision in the middle of the Corona crisis. Of course, it was a tough decision because sales were down, and it was a difficult time. However, we did it anyway – or for that very reason – since there will also be a time after Corona for which we want to be prepared in the best possible way.
Why did you choose to do the BC update?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: We do updates because we don’t want to miss anything, and we always want to be up to date. In the past, the tendency often was to say “Oh, we don’t need updates, we’re doing fine with our version”. However, Microsoft is developing its solution so fast and there are so many new features that we want to keep up, of course. In addition, time is becoming a scarce resource. We hope that the update will save us time and help us work more efficiently.
Florian Stadlmayr: We’re looking forward to the new features and since we know that there will be new features that we’ll definitely benefit from, the question whether we want to update is clear.
How long did the BC update project take?
Florian Stadlmayr: Actually, we kept agiles waiting a little longer than necessary. It was end of April when we really started. The go-live was in the first week of July. The project was really carried out relatively fast. Of course, it helps if you’ve already done an update and are more familiar with the whole process than you were the first time.
«You could also say it was a small facelift.»
What did you expect from the BC update?
Florian Stadlmayr: Of course, that it runs as smoothly as possible and that we might get some new features that pull the rug out from under us. However, we’ll probably have to wait for those until the next update or the one after that since the preparations for the major feature enhancements are taking place now. As Mr. Schmiemann (consultant at agiles) says: a lot has been done below the surface and you can see it in the speed and the performance of the new version.
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: The stability of the new version has improved significantly. You could also say it was a small facelift (laughs). Or, to put it differently: the chassis has not changed that much, but agiles was very active when it comes to engine tuning.
Florian Stadlmayr: Or – if you want to stick with this comparison – when it comes to the gear. You don’t feel the potholes as much anymore (laughs). It ran smoother after the update.
Are there new features that you benefit from thanks to the BC update?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: The EDI interface has been improved significantly, as well as licensing. The feature already existed, but given the standardization, licensing was cleared up considerably and now offers more convenience and better evaluability.
Was the Update installed on time?
Florian Stadlmayr: Absolutely. It didn’t even hang in the balance or was up for debate that we might have to ask if we could postpone it. I had the impression that it was already mature.
«You could tell that the team of agiles was really motivated.»
What were the challenges during the BC update project?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: It’s always challenging to understand how to use what has been delivered. The software has an incredibly large amount of setting options. And you have to figure out whether there really is an error or whether there’s just something wrong with the setting. This time, however, the setting was already very good, so we were able to do the testing quickly. We didn’t need to readjust much. Normally, it’s always challenging to perform the tests within time, but this time, we got through the test runs very relaxed. In the beginning, I even panicked a little bit because I didn’t see any escalation at all. I really wondered whether my team was testing at all (laughs). However, they were testing, and it was so calm because testing was done fast and without problems.
What do you think, Mr. Stadlmayr?
Florian Stadlmayr: I was afraid that some users might continue working in the test system because they wouldn’t notice the difference (which indeed did happen). That’s really good for a test phase (laughs).
How would you describe the collaboration with agiles during the BC update project?
Florian Stadlmayr: Collaboration was in the focus of the project. You could tell that the team of agiles was really motivated. It wasn’t along the lines of “Whew, we’ll take the case, see what it is, and create a ticket first”, but they really took action. You could tell that agiles was motivated to solve things quickly and that they wanted everyone to have the same understanding of the solution.
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: The internal processes of agiles are very lean, giving Mr. Schmiemann the opportunity to focus on us. Things were cleaned up after him very well and with incredible speed. There were no problems at all, which is very customer-friendly for us. And it also needs to be said that Mr. Schmiemann has been responsible for us since 2015 now. Therefore, he’s almost like an employee of Paul. M. Müller. He knows the problems well and we don’t need to explain much at all.
How do you benefit from the BC update?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: For us, not that much has changed from the old to the new BC version. As we said, there has been a lot of cleaning up throughout the system below the surface. The big advantage of the new BC version is that it runs smoother. We don’t notice any bumps in the road. And I hope that we’re better prepared for the next updates. It’s also an advantage for the user if the new version doesn’t require many adjustments. You don’t lose time re-learning processes but can adopt everything one-to-one. Of course, this won’t always be the case because Microsoft sometimes also takes bigger steps. agiles then has to support these changes and implement them, but we’ll see that next time or after that.
«agiles is very clever regarding their solutions.»
How would you rate the software of agiles?
Florian Stadlmayr: When I started at Paul M. Müller, I was surprised which additional modules the software of agiles offers that aren’t covered by the standard. agiles is very clever regarding their solutions. At the beginning, the hierarchies were new to me. You can create clever constructs to combine different customers, vendors, or articles. This allows you to know exactly who is connected and how. And you can, for example, make the extended texts dependent on this connection. Very smart, but you also have to be smart about it. I’m looking forward to benefit even more from the features of agiles in the next updates.
Which everyday challenges can you overcome thanks to the software of agiles?
Helmut Fabian Kretschmer: For us, the most important thing is to be always up to date. If we have a look into the system, we really see what the situation is. Especially when it comes to long-short-analyses – which are typical for the canning industry – it’s important to have an overview of purchase and sales. Of course, you also see what’s going on immediately in controlling, for example. Then there are smaller features such as the EDI interface or extended texts to specify details in orders. Licensing is an important feature, too. It’s good not to need an extra solution for this. You’re free and can chose the dual system you want. And then there are many other features that we use and take for granted.
Would you recommend the software of agiles?
Florian Stadlmayr: I came to agiles with completely different experiences and, as I said, was surprised by the smart functions of the software. I was shown that a consulting agency supporting Navision can make your work life much more pleasant. Therefore, I would recommend agiles at any time, they’re smart and they for sure have the right solution.
Thank you, Mr. Kretschmer and Mr. Stadlmayr for this interesting interview about the BC update in your company. We wish you every success for the future and look forward to our further cooperation.
Free case study
Paul M. Müller has been using the sophisticated trade solution of agiles since 2015. Learn how the company benefits from features such as contract management, third-party delivery, or long-short analyses.
Credit header: Olesia Shadrina | iStockphoto.com | Stock photo ID: 1156105322
Bella Diekmann works for the editorial office of agiles. She studied Spanish and French and has a PhD in linguistics. Besides her passion for languages, she is very interested in current IT topics. Blogging for agiles allows her to combine her love of writing with her interest in computer science and informatics.