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Innovative integration drives automotive group to SAP awards

by Contributor

I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away.” Well, when it comes to a nationwide automotive group in the world’s largest automotive market, that proverb about a hundred could be hundreds of thousands.

Founded in 2006 and based in Shanghai, China Grand Automotive Services Group Co., Ltd. (CGA) is China’s leading passenger car dealership and service business. It’s a one-stop-shop for new and used vehicle sales, leasing, financing, and servicing. CGA has more than 700 dealerships and approximately 44,000 employees and offers 32 vehicle brands throughout the country, including Honda, Volkswagen, Lexus, Infinity, Peugeot, BMW, Audi, Volvo, Cadillac, Jaguar Range Rover, and Maserati. 

In 2021, CGA realized approximately 154.44 billion yuan (more than $21 billion) in operating revenue and sold 697,000 new vehicles. So, what’s the problem?

Too much of a good thing?

With each brand comes a Dealer Management System (DMS) from the car manufacturer. A DMS is a software platform used by car dealers to manage a particular brand inventory, manufacturer incentives, customer information, and more. So, 32 brands mean 32 different DMS systems to handle. CGA also has its own SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for day-to-day activities, including accounting and project management. 

Processes and information must be integrated between each DMS system and CGA’s ERP system. And in many cases in the past, especially in the sales and service areas of CGA, that meant handling the integration manually. Given the number of systems, dealerships, and vehicles involved, integration was an extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive task that could lead to errors. Not only did the manual work affect the business operation, but also, potentially, the customer experience.

Hundreds of thousands of times

Imagine the manual task being done at the 700 dealerships with every transaction, whether it was for a new or used car sale or service requiring parts from the manufacturer. Think about the 697,000 car owners in 2021 waiting for business—waiting for the manual work—to be concluded. Makes one’s head spin, doesn’t it? The busiest dealerships had up to eight people dedicated full-time to the system integration. And it was still a slow, costly task that could lead to unhappy customers and employees. 

Time for cruise control with SAP

CGA turned to SAP Build Process Automation to accelerate and streamline the integration. Working together, CGA and SAP created a solution that can run continuously, operating the systems involved without human intervention and eliminating the possibility of errors. The first phase of CGA’s automation focuses on issuing service parts and entering service orders.

The making of something super

CGA calls its new solution the “Super Squad,” with a super implementation: 1,264 SAP Build Process Automation licenses for the first phase, making it the largest environment of that solution worldwide. 

“The SAP Build Process Automation project helped us to achieve our reduced cost and increased efficiency annual target,” says Xiangyi Bao, CGA president. “We’re confident this solution will play a key role in enhancing the future success of CGA.”

With the Super Squad, billing time has been improved throughout the CGA network from an average of six minutes for each transaction to 15 seconds. Order entry is now 24 times faster than with manual processes. 

More than 35 million yuan (nearly $5 million) has been saved annually in labor costs. What’s more, the solution has significantly cut the waiting time for customers, improving their experience, and leading to repeat purchases—all good for business and customers.

Problem solved. Recognition given.

For the group’s success in improving its operation and the benefits it offers customers, as well as for the scale of its innovation, China Grand Automotive Services received SAP recognition. CGA was named a finalist in the 2023 SAP Innovation Awards, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

To learn more about what makes CGA an innovator and finalist, check out the group’s pitch deck.

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