Insights into one of the largest implementation projects of OBS
Valuable first-hand experience from an OBS customer
29 March, 2023 by
Insights into one of the largest implementation projects of OBS
OBS Solutions GmbH, Hanna Wallulli

Insights into one of the largest implementation projects of OBS

During Odoo Experience 2022, Dr. Thomas Koliwer, the project manager responsible for one of our largest multinational Odoo implementations, presented the Odoo project.

Learn first-hand how OBS helps large multinational companies find simple, efficient solutions for their everyday business.


About Dr. Thomas Koliwer:
As Head of Process Engineering and Information Technology, Dr. Thomas Koliwer leads the Odoo implementation team at EMKA Group. Previously, Thomas held various positions at EMKA Group and has several years of experience as a managing director in medium-sized companies. Thomas was often involved in implementing enterprise software from SAP or Microsoft.

Strong and efficient: the three-step approach

A lot of things that reflect the special needs of the EMKA group have to be built into the system either by standard, by workaround, or by customization.

- Dr. Thomas Koliwer​

About EMKA group:
EMKA GROUP is the global market leader for closure systems, hinges, and seals used in cabinets and control panels in electronics and electrical engineering. With more than 2,500 employees at 25 locations worldwide, the Odoo implementation is a huge project spread over a 5-year period.

When it comes to the concrete planning of the software, implementers and project managers come together for intensive analysis work: All customization requests are analyzed and scrutinized. The focus is on simplifying the software without sacrificing intuitive usability and essential functions. The focus is to answer the following questions:

1. Which customizations are already possible in Odoo Standard?
These customizations are particularly cost-effective and least error-prone.

2. If it is not possible in the standard, what alternatives do exist?
This is about finding other processes and approaches that lead to the same result. This will allow taking full advantage of the existing possibilities of the system.

3. What should the software adaptation look like in concrete terms?
If it cannot be achieved in the existing system, there remains the possibility of developing individual adaptations. For this purpose, it is discussed in detail which functions are to be integrated into the software and in which way. Here, too, it is always questioned whether the process could be simpler. After all, the more customized and complex the software, the more error-prone it becomes, and problems could arise during updates. The focus in this step is, therefore, on finding solutions that fully meet the desired requirements and, at the same time, are as simple as possible.

Examples of customization: definition of a new product type

The definition of a new product type

“The system is generally very open. So in our big organization, we had to limit a little bit the flexibility - the idea of being very open and transparent, without limiting our possibilities.“ - Dr. Thomas Koliwer​

The Sales team needed a flexible solution to create customized sets without general permission to create products. So a new product type (in this case, for a quotation product) was created, "BOM (Bill of Material) on the fly." To do this, a new "ADD NEW BOM" button was added to sales documents.

The internal sales team can now create a product with a customer-specific bill of material. The balance is automatically added to the sales document.

For example, a set, with or without assembly, can be sold to a customer using a unique number. The customer can then reorder this item using the item’s unique number.

The entire process for ordering kit items (with assembly as an option) became more flexible without changing the rights of the sales department.

Material surcharge: Stay flexible but accurate and transparent

In many industries, there are surcharges for materials, energy, and more. The hardware industry, for decades, has had issues linking prices for raw materials to market prices on international stock exchanges or similar. And in the EMKA Group, it has been a common practice for many years that prices for raw materials like stainless steel, zinc, etc., have to be bound, or additional costs would be charged based on the daily prices of the international material exchanges.

Given these requirements, those features were added:
Product and material-specific surcharges have been added to compensate for volatile raw material prices.

N-level BOMs can now be exploded down to the raw material level (automatic BOM explosion). Thus, for assemblies, there is now a detailed display of the materials that occur, their quantities and how they are calculated.

It is now possible to select whether the surcharge table should be generated with the quotation, invoice, or with both. As a result, customer contact becomes even more personal and processes are simplified without disrupting the operator's own processes.

Daily prices can be assigned to different commodity classes. Thus, revenue postings to specific accounts are possible.

With these adjustments, EMKA has gained automatic, daily, accurate, and transparent displays of additional costs for certain materials without additional effort in sales.

Special features of a large-scale project

It is important always to balance communication on the Odoo project appropriately. At EMKA, the implementation project extends over several years. Providing information too early raises hopes and creates frustration if these cannot be fulfilled quickly. Informing too late risks making employees feel left out. This can result in the new software not being accepted.

To keep motivation and internal support for the project high, the composition and design of the project team were particularly important. Here's how EMKA did it:

A small effective team that internally drove the project was assembled.
Strong and decisive project management ensures that communication with the consultants and direct communication with top management is maintained on an ongoing basis. Regular steering meetings are held at all levels. The team formulates tasks and conducts testing. Key users and department heads are informed at regular intervals about project progress and next steps. By assigning key users in all key areas of the company, EMKA ensures that input is always fed back into the project process as feedback from practical experience.

Advantages of Odoo

“A strong point for us to choose Odoo was the network of Partners.” - Dr. Thomas Koliwer​

Odoo as a platform is highly customizable, with its easy data handling for migration and data exchange with other systems. Principle workflows can be used as a good basis.

The Odoo partner community offers support in almost all countries with modules for localization. The Odoo community also offers good interfaces to other service providers and extensive modules.

Weaknesses of Odoo

Traditional companies with very limited user rights have to adapt the Odoo system because Odoo is in principle rather open.
Some Odoo Standard modules are not sufficient for complex internationally operating companies in areas like material surcharges, consolidation, and business intelligence.

To exploit the full potential of Odoo, consistent project management and intensive consulting by an experienced partner are required.

Special features of cooperation with OBS Solutions

Important communication during the project includes frequent steering meetings on different levels, both on the level of the workers and the level of the project managers. For this reason, it was very important for EMKA to work with OBS to go through the project development process together.

There were and still are some conflicts, but this is inevitable when managing such a large project. The intensive exchange between EMKA and OBS Solutions could strengthen trust, communication, and cooperation.

The project management of OBS and also the coordination that OBS does with international partners are very important for EMKA. Without this, the Odoo project could not be managed on this international scale.


"We started with the proof of concept and that took about three months. It's not only about the performance that convinced us, but also that as a large company, you can't do 10 proofs of concepts like that with different software vendors. Odoo as a platform for customizations and with high flexibility convinced us, so this phase didn't take very long." - Dr. Thomas Koliwer

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