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SNOP found that they could turn to oXya for help when they wanted to set up a new subsidiary in China

Interview with Jean-Philippe Le Bos (CFO) and Gilles SUC (CTO) of SNOP

Can you tell us about the SNOP group?

The SNOP Group, founded in 1960, is a leading supplier to the automotive industry. We have 28 plants located in France and abroad, with technical centres in France , Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic, 4,500 peemployees and a turnover of €674 million in 2012-2013.

How did SNOP get involved in Asia?

With 50 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants, (the international average is 700 to 800), China is potentially the world's biggest car market. All the manufacturers are there. So the leading sub-contractors locate their factories close to their customer’s production sites. SNOP’s offices are located at most within 300 km of our clients’ manufacturing sites. We transport parts just in time, which can’t be done over long distances.

At the end of 2011, Peugeot Citroën signed a joint venture with CCAG (China Changan Automobile Group) to establish CAPSA (Changan PSA Automobile). In September 2013 they inaugurated a factory in Shenzhen near Canton which aims to produce 200,000 vehicles a year. In 2011 Peugeot Citroën asked SNOP for local support and we found a site to the north of Canton on which to build our first factory.

Can you describe the computing environment of the group?

The automotive world generally uses SAP so the choice of SAP was a natural one for us when in 1999 the Group decided to implement an ERP system. All our management modules operate under SAP. Our landscape includes ECC , Business Objects , SAP Solman and SAP Console. We have a project underway on BW , BPC and BI4 . The landscape includes PROD, pre-PROD, DEV and QUAL environments, working on top of Windows with an Oracle database . In addition to SAP, we use the EDI platform for data exchange with partners.

What was the IT project for China?

We had two objectives for China: providing a highly secure platform hosted in China, which needed to continue to function, whatever happened, totally independently without having any possible impact on the rest of the group; as well as benefiting from local administration within the Chinese time-zone. We therefore decidd to create a new, dedicated SAP landscape, which would be consistent with the SAP PROD landscape already existing in France.

Can you run through the key milestones of this project?

In 2011, SNOP asked oXya for their help in China. At the end of 2011, the Shanghai headquarters was established. oXya assisted SNOP in the organization of its subsidiary from the point of view of networking, data processing and office set-up (including telephony), before taking charge of the actual installation of computer components.

The construction of the plant started in Spring 2012. oXya helped liaise with local partners for the entire technical infrastructure part, installing and initialising hosting and managed services in its datacentre in Shanghai. Accounting modules went operational in September 2012 and the first tests of production and logistics modules started in January 2013. The whole SAP landscape was put into production later in the Spring. In July 2013, the first parts were shipped to our customers out of the plant.

What were the main problems you encountered?

We are used to establishing ourselves abroad, already having plants in Spain, Italy, England, Germany, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Morocco. But the case of China, more than 10,000 km away, is a bit unusual. The language barrier, the difference in culture, the management of time zones, and the specifics of doing business makes this type of implantation particularly complex. We needed a local partner who was competent and above all reliable: someone whom we could trust.

In what ways has oXya been a valuable partner?

oXya has acted as the ideal local agent, managing all the administration, IT infrastructure and networking. Speaking both Chinese and French, the oXya teams have served as a bridge in the proper sense, communicating easily with the headquarters in France and acting autonomously to take control of operations on the Chinese side.

oXya orchestrated the management of our IT, from the purchasing of PCs to the signing of contracts with Telecom networks and mobile operators , through the search for partners and the development of network infrastructure. It created a copy of the French system in its Chinese cloud, taking only the parameters and data that were needed. Today, oXya continues to host our SAP systems in its datacentre in Shanghai, monitoring our systems 24/7 and administering them in the Chinese time-zone, using its local teams.

Why did you choose to outsource?

Until that point, SNOP had operated its SAP systems internally. In recent years the group had grown considerably as a result of successive French acquisitions and takeovers. This development, particularly on the international front, underlined the criticality of our SAP systems.

Our DRP was performed on a mirror site in the Paris region, managed by our own teams. An unsatisfactory DRP test alerted us to the risks being incurred by the Group in terms of criticality and operations management. We realized that we did not have the necessary expertise in-house. The maintenance of cutting-edge expertise on SAP is not part of the SNOP mission.

In trades such as ours, a major SAP incident is simply unthinkable. So we quickly made ​​the decision to outsource to secure all of the group's production systems.

What were the strengths of oXya that earnt your trust?

oXya agreed to accompany us to China, even performing tasks in China that do not normally fall within its remit. oXya embarked on the adventure with us and put at our disposition its own knowledge of the language, habits and customs relating to the Chinese business management, and their resources for the management of our IT ecosystem. We appreciated oXya’s commitment, which helped accelerate the deployment of SNOP’s IT infrastructure and our implementation of SAP in China.

What made ​​you want to extend the partnership with oXya at group level?

In fact, the decision to continue with oXya in France had already been taken, even before engaging with oXya in China; but oXya really took care of SNOP in China and we were grateful. We decided to trust their expertise. We have continued working collaboratively to enable them to take over the outsourcing for the entire group.

How was the handover managed between your teams and oXya?

In France, the landscape is composed of PROD, pre-PROD , DEV and QUAL environments. Taking advantage of the outsourcing project, we also decided to adapt our IT architecture to follow oXya’s recommendations. All our machines have now been virtualized and the whole landscape placed on a dedicated private cloud, except for the VMWare servers and our PROD and pre-PROD environments, which on account of their criticality were left on physical clusters. A DRP mirror architecture has been installed in the datacentre in Lille, with appropriate network connections between the two.

The switch to the new architecture ran smoothly over Christmas 2012, All the data was migrated for the three SAP application landscapes, along with BO and EDI. It was a great success for all the teams who worked on the project over a four months period.

How would you describe oXya to a colleague?

oXya is a specialist in outsourcing and SAP administration. They have the ability to operate 24 hours out of 24 , 7 days out of 7, working on different platforms, both in Europe and Asia. They really take into account the needs of their clients in the management of SAP. Their staff are very involved. It is good to work with them. We trust them.

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