MS Dynamics 365 Rollout: Things are running smoothly at Fahrrad XXL

It is a tough job to replace heterogeneous legacy infrastructure with a central ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Fahrrad XXL, one of the largest bicycle retailers in Germany, is mastering this Herculean task together with Microsoft Gold Partner Alpha Variance Solutions.

In 15 nationwide bike stores and an online shop, Fahrrad XXL offers a gigantic assortment – consisting of over 100,000 bicycles from more than 40 quality brands and exclusive own brands. In addition, there are lots of bicycle accessories, spare parts, and clothing. Indoor and outdoor cycle tracks, test simulators, and bicycle workshops turn every store into a world of experience for customers.

On growth course for years

So it’s no wonder that Fahrrad XXL has been growing steadily for several years – which mainly benefited e-commerce during the Corona-related lockdown. But the strict expansion course of the company group, founded in 2006, had shown the necessity of a comprehensive IT modernization early on.

Most of the branches are family businesses that look back on decades of experience and tradition. They use different merchandise management and financial accounting systems, which makes group-wide communication and coordination much more difficult. In addition, the ERP environments within the branches are often heterogeneous and not directly connected to the POS systems. Multiple data storage and time-consuming interface maintenance are the results.

Aimed for Uniform ERP Landscape

With the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in the Azure Cloud, Fahrrad XXL wants to change this and set the course for future growth. Thus, the current IT system landscape, which is distributed across several locations, is to be gradually replaced by uniform and central ERP structures.

“With Dynamics 365, we want to make the group-wide business processes and the data exchange between the branches more efficient and optimize the multi-channel communication with the customers,” Dr. Hamidreza Ameli, co-founder of Fahrrad XXL and shareholder of Fahrrad XXL Emporon, describes the project goals. “One of the biggest challenges is to bring the requirements and wishes of the participating companies and specialist stores to a common denominator.”

Alpha Variance Solutions as “savior in need”

To meet this complex task, Fahrrad started an initial Dynamics 365 implementation project with selected external consulting partners. However, it soon became apparent that these partners were not up to the high technical requirements. Since there was a lack of technical expertise and little transparency about the project’s progress, the costs quickly escalated and the project threatened to escalate.

In “dire need”, those responsible at Fahrrad XXL became aware of the US Microsoft Gold Partner Alpha Variance Solutions. The consulting firm was founded in New York in 2015 by President Yuanming Chu and was already successfully expanding into the European market. The project was saved at the last minute thanks to the comprehensive competencies and experience that Alpha Variance Solutions has to show in the MS Dynamics 365 implementation, especially in retail companies.

Customized solution design

Yuanming Chu and her team were able to score points with their distinctive know-how in the creation and implementation of customized Dynamics 365 solution architectures. Together with in-house specialists from IT and other departments, they succeeded in centralizing the existing process and IT structures with the help of Microsoft’s ERP suite. Wolf Gläser, EU Regional Delivery Manager of Alpha Variance Solutions, was appointed as overall project manager.

Cooperation is always characterized by great trust, transparency, and honesty. “As a long-time Microsoft expert, Wolf Gläser quickly got to grips with the project that was threatening to fail,” emphasizes Elodie Lamouroux, Head of PMO and Marketing at Fahrrad XXL. “Although it is a lengthy and often very complicated IT project due to our group structure, we are well on time and budget and will be able to start the rollout in a first branch in early 2022.”

In parallel, the Alpha Variance Solutions team is preparing the staff in the specialist stores for the change in IT use with change management. In addition, internal know-how is being built up for the maintenance and support of the new ERP infrastructure.

Strengthening of e-commerce expected

By 2024, all bicycle XXL bike shops are to be converted to MS Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. In addition to efficiency gains in the shops, those responsible expect this to strengthen e-commerce, as the new IT infrastructure will contribute to the further development of the online shop.

Even before the first rollout, Managing Director Dr. Hamidreza Ameli sums up the special achievement of the “project savior”: “With their agile, professional and focused approach, it was and is a pleasure to work with Alpha Variance Solutions. Throughout the complex integration, Wolf Gläser and his team carried out every task consistently and competently.”