A chat with Peter Mulder

Just a while ago, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Peter Mulder, who is Head of SAP Business One in the Nordics. Well, we sat down behind our screens; just like more or less everything else these days, the conversation had to take place virtually. However, it turned out to be a very interesting and inspiring conversation about the cloud, the future and what makes a successful implementation project. We also got the opportunity to get to know Peter a little deeper and what drives him in his job.

Tell me about yourself!

“My name is Peter Mulder, from the Netherlands. I grew up in a wholesale family, and my father worked as a wholesaler. I studied marketing and started my career at an ERP provider in the Netherlands. Here I worked with different levels of support, but I was also responsible for training, design, delivery and certification. I worked there for 8 years and then I worked for years as an ERP consultant”.

How did you end up at SAP?

“There was this one time, I was catching up with a former co-worker, who just happened to work at SAP. Afterwards he called me and said “If I understood you correctly you are looking for something else? If that is so, we need to talk”. And that is how I ended up at SAP”.

Peter initially joined the global team for SAP Business One, and then became Head of the Solutions Centre for Business One. However, six years ago, he was looking for a new challenge.

“I had never done sales before, so I moved to sales. And the territory that was available was the Nordics, so I jumped into it”.

What does a normal working day look like for you?

“On a daily basis, I work with leads generation, which includes operational work like developing campaigns and content. Apart from that, I work with the partners and talk to them about their sales opportunities and try to see what we can do to assist them in their work. I also look at what we can do to help partners that are maxed out on capacity, and how we can help partners to stay up to date on functionalities”.

You mentioned partners; what are the challenges and opportunities of working with partners?

First of all, I really like the interaction and working with people. I also like the aspect of working with different cultures and countries. Partners have their own companies, their own priorities, their own challenges and their own motivation. That is what motivates me; how to motivate people in their journey with Business One, and how to get them through the process

Peter Mulder

of change? I also like the bandwidth that SAP has, and the possibility to sell on local markets. This would not have been possible without our partners and their knowledge of local prerequisites. And as we only sell through partners we need to rely very heavily on them. When talking about the challenges, they are actually the same. Partners have their own companies and their own agenda. The challenge is to make sure that the partners’ visions align with SAP’s”.

Peter describes SAP Business One as an ERP that gives full insight of what is happening at the company. It is not uncommon for smaller companies to work with invoicing or CRM systems, but rely heavily on Excel, which can be an obstacle for growth. If you rely on a stand alone CRM system, you might make decisions based on information on that system, but you do not have information on the profitability or the payment behavior of that customer. This is the main advantage for companies to invest in ERP systems; making decisions based on accurate data.

There are several other advantages that come with investing in an ERP system. But what is it what makes SAP Business One unique? Peter helps us to sort this out:

“For a long time, SAP has worked on enabling partners to build solutions around the ERP, that complements Business One as a generic solution. However, the system does not contain in-depth specific content that is needed for a specific industry. That openness of the platform is unique, and a strong point of Business One. By allowing partners to build their own solutions, SAP can address specific needs in specific industries.

Previously, it was more about organizing processes within YOUR company. But as can be seen with ecommerce, a lot of systems are connected. This means that you can find external information, and instead of typing it in, you can connect it to the system. By creating this integrated solution, efficiency will increase and the work that you need to do yourself will be minimized.

The system is flexible, and it allows the customer to choose whether they want to run it on-premise, where they run it on their own server, or if they want to run it in the cloud. Here, multiple customers are running their systems in a data center where security teams are managing several customers. This will result in lower TCO towards the end customers, improving the way that partners can deliver support. So the things around are so flexible that it is different from other ERPs, where it is more focused around the closed ERP area”.

Even though the advantages are multiple for investing in an ERP, it is still a significant investment. So how do you prepare your organization for that change?

“Well, there are two things. First of all, think about what you want to achieve. Perhaps you have always worked in a specific way and have grown used to working like that. Start thinking about what you want to achieve and how that can be optimized. Then you start not only to be able to evaluate what are the best options, but also how these could work best for you. So the mindset is very important. The other thing is staying involved. Be very involved. I have done implementation projects myself where the client was too busy to participate. The system was set up and it worked the way the client wanted it to work, but they had no clue on how to use it. If you are involved as a client and work together with the consultants to make sure that you decide together as a team how the implementation should be done and how the system will work for you, you will learn the product much better. The knowledge on how to work with the product will become imbedded within your company, and then you will know how the system will help, that it is not just about entering numbers. It is also important to always think about; how can we take the next step – both with the product but also as a team”.

We concluded that staying involved is one of the most significant success factors when discussing implementations. Peter further explains that this is one of the reasons why implementation projects sometimes fails

“The entire team needs to be involved. If there is no involvement, there will not be enough information for the consultants to proceed with. And also, do not underestimate data migration. The system might be ready but if there is no good, clean master data, the project will fail or be delayed”.

So when the project has been finalized, what changes will you be able to see?

“If the system is set up correctly, it will be easier to extract information, easier to make sure that you know what needs to be done, For example, from a delivery point of view you can ask yourself; what items need to be delivered, or what needs to be purchased? How do I manage my stock efficiently, and how do I make sure I do not have too much stock? Those are the things that you will be able to manage in a much more efficient way. If set up correctly, you will have one single source of truth that can be used to analyze data”.

What about the future of SAP? What about the future of the cloud?

“The world will be moving more and more into the cloud, and we have to work harder so that Business One can accelerate into the cloud. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to think that everybody will move into the cloud. That will not happen. There will be many companies who will continue to run on-premise, for various reasons. Therefore we will continue to support on-premise as well. The default assumption is that the system is running in the cloud.

But why the cloud?

“The main argument for the cloud is simplicity. It will cost an amount per user per month, but you do now have to worry about keeping your own hardware alive, managing your own backups, and you do not have to worry about security. Perhaps you will think, will my data be safe? What about hacking? You might not have the expertise in your company, but if you put your data in the cloud, you will get dedicated experts doing only the job of keeping the data safe”.

There are certainly many reasons for discussing implementations, ERPs and the cloud. Is there anything else that you want to share with our reader?

“Whenever you are looking at your current system and reflect about; what can we do and how can we move forward with the system…do not try to think how it can be done, but discuss what can we do? Discuss what you want to achieve, and then have an open discussion on how to achieve it, and then investigate how the system can support that objective. Don’t ask the question too narrow! Have an open mindset, discuss what you want to achieve and then discuss how the system can support that objective”.

Thank you for a very interesting and inspiring conversation, Peter!

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