The first challenge: Lead to Cash

Prior to the deployment of SAP Solution, Ciena was using a variety of mainframe legacy systems and stand alone applications to automate financial and manufacturing processes.

To achieve their process automation goals, Ciena chose to implement the following SAP modules: Financial Accounting (FI), Controlling (CO), Sales and Distribution (SD), Materials Management (MM), Warehouse Management (WM), Production Planning (PP), and Quality Management (QM).

At the Ciena’s America HQs in Hanover, MD; the SAP project was completed in eight months.

“Key to the project’s success and speed of implementation was that fact that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, because of Principle InfoTech’s experience in Germany,”
said Petrik, CIO of Ciena

However, project success isn't solely predicated by technology or consultant expertise. Employee involvement can make or break the outcome. One challenge Ciena faced in this initial implementation was employees’ relative unfamiliarity with the SAP Business Platform. This was a completely new experience for Ciena employees affected by this change – so training and motivation were critical.

While early and intensive management of key users was important, we were fortunate that a lot of enthusiasm was generated at every level of the organization. Principle Info-Tech and Ciena worked to achieve a very open level of communication. The president gave several presentations to employees on the importance of this project. We hosted “open door days” where employees could drop in and discuss their challenges, frustrations and goals, or simply ask questions. Playback sessions were held where every employee could watch the key users performing the key business processes. This helped convey a level of comfort to the user community and also helped them understand their impact in a highly integrated system – and that all steps of a business process are linked and thus affected by each other. Everyone really got into the spirit of this project. Ciena produced t-shirts and coffee mugs and at project’s end we had several celebrations to acknowledge a job well done.

Benefits from this initial implementation of SAP quickly began to accrue. “We realized success across the board – from finance to production. Because of SAP Solution we know exactly where we stand, no surprises. A standardized reporting system also enabled us to gain the most from our investment, by providing real-time decision support.” Petrik said.

An year after, Ciena upgraded their SAP Business Platform. A critical component of this project was Principle InfoTech’s application of Continuous Business Improvement, a tool-based analysis of a productive SAP Solution.

CBI theory states that the lifecycle of an ERP system does not come to an end after it has been implemented. CBI pinpoints potential trouble spots, redundancies and under or over-utilizations in business processes and system configuration. Collected data is then used to map out improvements and then, if necessary, reconfigure business processes. It’s a process of fine-tuning that helps companies maximize return on their Technology Investments.

What did Principle Info-Tech and Ciena learn as a result? “We discovered a lot of processes no one ever used – such as reports that they had urgently requested but hardly ever used because they learned to efficiently use standard SAP reports. We were able to trim our consultant costs significantly, and really identify trouble spots,” Petrik said. Ciena is presently undergoing its second CBI project and, according to Petrik, “it’s something we will continually revisit in order to make sure our investment in SAP Business Aplication Platform is working for us.”

The present day

Petrik expects the greatest challenges to encompass the data conversion and ironing out systems duplication. “Conflicts are expected (such as document number duplications) that need to be resolved and converted. During the decision making process three options were presented to Ciena. Option one was the ‘Neighborhood’ concept, entailing moving the system physically to Mannheim without merging into one system. Option two was basically the concept of “living in the same house” moving into the same technical system landscape but running two separate instances or clients. Option three is “marriage” which is the ultimate solution offering the highest level of integration and harmonization with all its pros and cons. Ciena made the decision for the marriage concept based on their requirements.

Evaluating the relationship after several years and multiple projects, Petrik says:

“Principle InfoTech’s expertise in the chemical industry is excellent and they provide a high level of assistance to our employees.
They believe in empowering our organization and opening our eyes to the many possibilities technology holds, not encumbering us with restrictive consulting contracts.”


Ciena's Logo

Ciena Corporation is a United States-based global supplier of telecommunications networking equipment, software and services that support the delivery and transport of voice, video and data service. Its products are used in telecommunications networks operated by telecommunications service providers, cable operators, governments and enterprises. The company was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Hanover, Maryland.

Ciena sells products and services across four segments: Converged Packet Optical, Packet Networking, Optical Transport, and Software & Services. Key current platforms include the 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, 5430 Reconfigurable Switching System, CoreDirector Multiservice Optical Switch, 3000 family of service delivery switches, and the 4200 Advanced Services Platform. It also offers the Ciena One integrated network and service management software suite, consulting and support services, deployment services, maintenance and support services, spares and logistics management.