Intro: Who is Vallourec?
Since its founding more than 120 years ago, Vallourec has worked to establish — and cement — its leadership position as a global manufacturer of premium tubular solutions. Based in Paris, the company’s revenue today exceeds $3.5 billion USD, with over 17,000 employees across 40 production sites in 20 countries. Vallourec’s best-in-class solutions serve customers in a variety of energy and industry sectors worldwide, with its North American team especially focused on pipe manufacturing and finishing for offshore and onshore oil and gas companies.
Vallourec, though, would not be successful without its constant dedication to digital innovation and reinvention. For decades, the company has prioritized the development of intelligent solutions, whether expanding its offering by digitizing it through smart, connected tubes or developing a range of digital services that improve the overall experience for customers at every step of the value chain. In recent years, however, this technology focus has been thrown into sharp relief — with the company’s internal SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) business software growing increasingly at odds with the company’s mission to maintain a leadership position on the international stage.
So, the question became this: How could Vallourec achieve its business goals without instigating a massive and expensive move to SAP S/4HANA, and how could it continue finding innovative ways to optimize its existing ECC system? The answer, before long, became simple: Pillir’s EdgeReady Cloud solution.
Here is the story as told by Vallourec:
The Challenge: Keeping the Lights On, using SAP ECC
Vallourec originally implemented its SAP system a little more than 10 years ago. Still, entering 2021, its business goals related to the ERP platform remained relatively straightforward:
- Leverage SAP ECC as much as possible
- Effectively manage multiple customizations and their impact
- Gain access to recent technologies and increased mobility
- Keep the overall run cost low
Simply put, Vallourec maintains a strong belief in its SAP ECC system. But newer technology and improved capabilities aren’t always compatible with the aging ERP platform. So, in order to maintain its system of record and its clean core — and to avoid making a premature SAP S/4HANA decision — the company needed to embrace new developments and customizations outside of SAP ECC.
|“We wanted to keep the lights on in our existing ERP system,” said Hubert Delloye, the global ERP architect at Vallourec. “But modernizing wasn’t an option — rather, it was absolutely necessary.”
The company began by focusing on its mobile transaction process for purchase requisition and purchase order approval transactions, as its related product was due to end all support in SAP ECC. But in a choice between leaving the platform altogether and leveraging it to redevelop the mobile transaction process, the decision was clear: Keep technical debt down, and develop a new solution outside the core.
The Solution: Low-Code Rapid Application Development
In just a matter of weeks, with the support of Pillir and its team, Vallourec was able to completely redevelop its purchase requisition and purchase order approval mobile transaction processes. And all it took was Pillir’s low-code rapid application development platform and a plug-in into the company’s existing environment. Plus, there were no technical prerequisites, everything ran smoothly with SAP ECC, and the technology is future-proofed for the day Vallourec moves to SAP S/4HANA.
In the big picture, the application’s development opens new doors for Vallourec, revealing ample opportunity in the custom, low-code space.
“Looking at Pillir’s ABAP Analysis Dashboard, we began to visualize where all of our customizations were, and see what was being used and not being used,” Delloye said. “With all of that information at our fingertips, we were able to easily identify candidates for removal from the SAP ECC core, keeping it cleaner and keeping our technical debt down.”
Now, Vallourec is poised to both continue developing new apps and to convert existing ones to easily run on its platform. And with Pillir’s fully cloud-based and 100-percent consumption-based applications, the company will only pay for what it actually uses.
“What we found very appealing about the solution was that we could create new applications, either from scratch or by taking existing custom code and automatically converting it into an app that can run on the platform,” Delloye said. “So, for example, while our outdated stock movement mobile transaction runs on SAP ITS — and heavily relies on custom CSS files that are undocumented and can no longer be used or maintained — by using Pillir, we can build a new, modern app for the same processes.”
|“What we found very appealing about the solution was that we could create new applications, either from scratch or by taking existing custom code and automatically converting it into an app that can run on the platform”
The team is currently working on optimizing an app for their manufacturing line, one that makes clocking in and out a mobile and seamless process — allowing the business to track information in real-time, right from the source.
While most of the applications in use by Vallourec today were developed by Pillir’s team, their developers have been training using Pillir’s low-code platform and are becoming more equipped every day to build their own apps.
Vallourec, however, didn’t pay for the development, they only pay on applications once deployed and have active users in the production environment.
Delivery time of applications was extremely quick, anywhere between 4-8 weeks per application - which traditional would be 9-16 months of development
|“We’re not only positioned to continue thriving on SAP ECC with our customized solutions that enable us to keep the core clean and technical debt low,” said Vallourec’s Delloye. “We’re also positioned to make an easier and smoother SAP S/4HANA decision in the future.”
Renovating Today, Avoiding a Total Rebuild Tomorrow
“We’re not only positioned to continue thriving on SAP ECC with our customized solutions that enable us to keep the core clean and technical debt low,” said Vallourec’s Delloye. “We’re also positioned to make an easier and smoother SAP S/4HANA decision in the future.”