25 Jahre proALPHA

25 Years of proALPHA: Looking Back, Thinking Ahead

A Journey Through a Quarter Century

A big thank you to all our customers, partners and employees for 25 years of great teamwork, confidence and shared growth. Today, about 900 people work for the proALPHA group at 26 offices in nine countries. 100,000 users in small and mid-sized enterprises use the comprehensive ERP solution on 1,800 installations. This strong basis opens up new opportunities in digital transformation.

However, there is no time to waste, and so proALPHA keeps the finger on the pulse of technology. The speed of digital evolution has multiplied over the last couple of years. For the benefits of its customers, the group promotes various Industry 4.0 projects and develops the usability concepts of tomorrow.

Go on the journey through time


Something New in Europe. And Also at the Other End of the World.

proALPHA Expands to China

Globalization is in progress. Many proALPHA customers operate on an international scale. To support them on site, proALPHA expands its global presence. The basis for this is provided by the merger with the Swiss Codex group. The next great step follows in October 2016: proALPHA opens its first office in China.

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Something New in Europe. And Also at the Other End of the World.

proALPHA eröffnet neue Niederlassung in China
proALPHA China

At the beginning of the new year, the Swiss Codex group, a long-term partner, is integrated into proALPHA. In addition to a strong presence in its home country, Codex also has a number of offices abroad. A little later this year, proALPHA completes its structural reorganization by incorporating its long-term partner integral systemtechnik GmbH (isM).

Welcome to the Middle Kingdom

The first Chinese subsidiary is opened on October 1, 2016. Approximately 5,000 German companies have gained a foothold here over the last couple of years, among them an increasing number of SMEs and proALPHA customers. With the Chinese version of proALPHA ERP and the new subsidiary to support them, they are well-prepared for the challenges they are going to face in the Far East. In Taicang, a team of German speaking employees and local experts offers them services, support, workshops and consulting on site.


1 + 1 > 2

proALPHA and ABS Become proALPHA Business Solutions

The proALPHA group and ALPHA Business Solutions AG (ABS) have merged into proALPHA Business Solutions GmbH. proALPHA now holds a stronger third place in the ERP market for SMEs in the production and trade sector.

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proALPHA and ABS Become proALPHA Business Solutions

proALPHA und ALPHA Business Solutions werden eins

The proALPHA group has been working with ABS as sales and system house partner for a long time. A proven partnership.

"So it came naturally to intensify and formalize this close cooperation," Dr. Friedrich Neumeyer, CEO of proALPHA, explains the merger of both companies.


New Investor Brings More Financial Power

Bregal Unternehmerkapital Becomes Investor

The incorporation of Bregal Unternehmerkapital, a private equity firm owned by the Brenninkmeijer family, into the proALPHA group unlocks great financial potential. As a family-owned private equity firm, Bregal attaches great importance to long-term and future-oriented investment as well as a sustainable financial structure.

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New Investor Brings More Financial Power

The company's management and the new investor are planning to sustainably develop the company and to further expand the product portfolio. With this solvent partner, more funds are now available to reach this goal.


Research, Development & Tests

Scientific Cooperation Unites Theory and Practice

Shaping the future in a world of ever more complex technologies and industries is best done in close cooperation between research and industry. For this reason, proALPHA has created a close network of like-minded partners since 2010. Their common goal is to turn visions into practical concepts.

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Research, Development & Tests

Smart Electronic Factory

German business software is unparalleled on the world market. But global competition is in the wake. This is why collaborations between research, development and marketing are gaining more and more significance. proALPHA, too, is involved in a number of funded projects to develop innovative solutions and implement them for its customers.

In 2010, proALPHA joins the ranks of Germany's Leading-Edge Clusters, and proALPHA's own Werner Ernst becomes a member of the strategy board of Europe's biggest software cluster, "Softwareinnovationen für das Digitale Unternehmen" ("Software Innovations for Digitized Business"). In 2012, proALPHA becomes a member of the SmartFactoryKL, an independent showcase and research platform in Kaiserslautern. In 2014, proALPHA participates in the Smart Electronic Factory (SEF) project. It combines the activities of business organizations and research institutions of various sectors into one initiative on Industry 4.0.

proALPHA contributes a smart factory capable of producing goods. Everything that is technologically possible must also be checked under economical aspects.

Picture: © Smart Electronic Factory


Go with the Flow

Brilliant Ideas and the Spirit of Science

Sometimes, you can achieve more in a few relaxed moments than in many weeks of hard work. This is what proALPHA experiences in the first months of the year 2005, when Greek restaurants become think tanks and a new subsidiary emerges from a scientific cooperation in Poland.

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Go with the Flow

Der proALPHA ERP Workflow, skizziert auf einer Serviette

It all started with a high school cooperation: In 2002, proALPHA Software AG started a close collaboration with the Institute of Controlling and Business Informatics at the University of Zielona Góra, which is led by Prof. Dr. Paul-Dieter Kluge. The original goal was the practical training of ERP specialists for SMEs, for which Kluge uses the comprehensive ERP solution proALPHA.

Poland – Market of the Future

During the course of the collaboration with the university, translations are made for the Polish country version. In 2004, the first proALPHA customer uses it in a pilot project. Since this customer is soon followed by others, the next step comes naturally: On February 18, 2005 proALPHA Polska is founded in Zielona Góra, so that proALPHA can get a foothold in the future market Poland.

The new subsidiary's strong growth confirms that this was a good decision. At first, 70 square meters are enough, but soon more space is required and proALPHA Polska moves to today's location in 2013. In 2012, a second subsidiary opens in Katowice and is relocated to Gliwice three years later. In 2017 the third one is opened in Warsaw.

Thinking is Easier Once the Tie Is Loosened a Bit

Soon the IT world turns its attention to Hanover, where the computer trade fair CeBIT takes place in March. This year's focus is on Voice over IP and multimedia phones. This get-together of technology experts gives an impetus to proALPHA's software engineers.

"Many ideas have been developed over a glass of beer. The first data model for the new workflow was drawn on a napkin at a Greek restaurant," Gunnar Schug, CTO of proALPHA, says. The model shows the workflow as it is later included in version 6.1. It makes it possible to define different processes for various user groups. This shows that it doesn't take much to think outside the box. Even a pint of beer can do the trick.


Sheer Luck or a Good Instinct?

proALPHA Survives Dotcom Bubble Burst

The Internet is booming, mobile phones are on the rise. Since 1995, more and more start-ups have been flooding the market for digital technologies. And shareholders can't wait to get their piece of the cake commonly referred to as the "New Market". At this time, proALPHA Software AG, too, is planning to go public. And once again, the stars align for proALPHA, but the outcome is not as planned.

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Sheer Luck or a Good Instinct?


Digital technologies are revolutionizing the world. To stockholders, every startup in this sector is a potential investment in the future. And stock prices are still on the rise. In Germany, the hype reaches its climax with the UMTS license auction, which brings the national treasury €50 billion. On March 7, 2000 the DAX index reaches its peak point with an index value of more than 8,100 points during the course of the day. In this very promising environment, proALPHA is about to go public. No one could have guessed that this phase was to go down in history as the Dotcom Bubble.

A Short Trend or a Free Fall?

When the stock prices start falling after March, this does not change the decision about going public. The stock prices will surely go up again... or won't they? Despite these uncertainties, proALPHA Software AG holds on to its plan for several months. Even three days before going public, the founders Leo and Werner Ernst and Martin Wolf are still determined.

"The Ernst brothers were already on their way so that we could get the deal wrapped up," Wolf remembers. "Then stock prices went shooting down, and the market crashed. We canceled the initial public offering. Today we can tell that we definitely did the right thing. We trusted our instinct and had big luck!"


A New Name for the New Millennium

Company Changes Name and Gains Foothold in Hungary

proALPHA is a registered trademark. All subsidiaries already have the product in their name, the youngest one of them being the new subsidiary in Hungary. And finally the parent company shares its subsidiaries' name: In October 1999, W. Ernst Informatik AG officially becomes proALPHA Software AG.

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A New Name for the New Millennium

proALPHA eröffnet Niederlassung in Budapest, Ungarn

Hungary is booming. Thanks to numerous privatizations, the former communist country has been on the rise since the mid-90s. More and more proALPHA customers establish offices there: at first Rosenberg Hungaria Kft, a subsidiary of Rosenberg Ventilatoren GmbH; then Ziehl-Abegg Ungarn; MSK Ungarn and many more.

True to the unofficial motto "Following the clients", Leo Ernst inaugurates the new subsidiary in the heart of Budapest in April 1999. At first, they license the German language version, which is translated project-specifically. In 2001, the first official Hungarian language version is created, soon followed by the country version.


A Solid Base for Conquering the World

Constructions for New Headquarters Start and First US Subsidiary Opens

proALPHA follows its clients and tests the waters in the New World. In Nashua, New Hampshire, proALPHA goes into American ERP business on June 6. Several customers want to use the software in their subsidiaries and overseas branches. In Germany, too, the company provides a show of force: in Weilerbach, constructions for the new headquarters start.

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A Solid Base for Conquering the World

Neubau am Standort Weilerbach

Nashua, New Hampshire, is considered the "Best Place to Live in America". To date, it is the only city to win the Money Magazine ranking twice. The quality of life is not the sole reason to choose Nashua as location. A major factor is the density of excellent colleges and IT experts in the metropolitan area of Boston. Last but not least it is in close proximity to the technology partner Progress, who is located just 40 kilometers away in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Never a Failure – Always a Lesson

It is the first foreign-language subsidiary, so little mishaps in communication occur once in a while. For instance, the ERP system suddenly features a "strain gauge", which is the correct translation for German "Dehnungsmessstreifen". According to Wikipedia, this is a "device used to measure strain on an object". It turns out that the freelance translator had misinterpreted the abbreviation DMS, which obviously stands for "Dokumenten-Management-System" in proALPHA. Another time, the German word "Druckansicht" is translated as "Pressure Opinion", a quite literal translation of what should be called a "Print Preview".

Since errors like this keep happening, there is one obvious consequence. proALPHA won't compromise anymore when it comes to the quality of translations. From now on, the company employs in-house translators who know their way in ERP. Lesson learned!

Committed to Rhineland-Palatinate

Things in Germany are not put to a hold either. Constructions for the new headquarters in Weilerbach start. The ground is broken in March 1998, and the topping-out ceremony follows in the same year.


A Modem's Quiet Hissing and Crackling

proALPHA One of the First Companies to Get Website

The modem is beeping while the user is sitting in front of the screen and the site is slowly loading, provided that the phone line is not occupied. In 1996, the Internet is still uncharted territory, because it was made available to the public only in 1993. With its corporate website, proALPHA is among the pioneers. A web counter keeps track of the number of visitors, which is proudly displayed on the site.

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A Modem's Quiet Hissing and Crackling

Die proALPHA Website anno 1996

Videos on the web? Blinking banners? Far from it! Even graphics are rare. The Internet is slow, loading takes ages and costs money. Providers like AOL and T-Online charge users for the time they spend online. This is why corporate websites in the mid-90s consist of almost only one thing: text. The first proALPHA website is no exception.

The Internet Without Google

Already back then proALPHA offers its visitors four languages to choose from. The News section features dynamic contents that are updated on a regular basis. Google would have been happy about this if the search engine had existed then. It is not until one year later that it launches.

More Than a Virtual Expansion

In the real world, too, the company continues expanding. In addition to its first web presence, proALPHA opens new offices throughout Germany to support its customers on site.


ERP Without a Limit

proALPHA Established in Austria

Austria wants the modern ERP system proALPHA. W. Ernst Informatik AG supports its first subsidiary abroad wherever it is needed. One of the managing directors does the first training for developers himself. In the "Brauner Hirsch" inn in Gleisdorf, co-founder Martin Wolf conveys his know-how to tomorrow's Austrian proALPHA experts.

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ERP Without a Limit

proAlpha AT - Elisabeth Meier; Günther Dorn

The office in Gleisdorf, a three-room apartment on the top floor, won't suffice for even one year. Already in 1996, the team moves to a larger office. In 1998, today's office building in Gleisdorf is constructed and inaugurated. In 1997, an office is opened in Vienna, followed by one in Thalheim/Wels and Völs (today's Unterpfuss office) at the turn of the millennium.

The First Customer

In Austria, Schrack/Tyco becomes a customer on day one. And it's worth it: after the start with version 1.14, version 2.01 continues running until 2010. Then Schrack/Tyco introduces version 5.2f like a new project.


Night Shifts Before the Big Day

proALPHA Product Has Its Premiere

After two years of straining development work the big day has finally come: the ERP program proALPHA is ready to be launched. Ziehl-Abegg is the first customer to use the software. The number one provider of ventilation and drive technology has been involved in the development right from the start.

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Night Shifts Before the Big Day

proALPHA ERP auf Diskette

Version 1.0 features three modules: Order Processing, Materials Management and Purchasing. The developers have worked on it day and night, oftentimes even together with the customer in front of one screen. An exchange in person is often crucial to success, because change requests can be implemented immediately and new ideas can be developed right on site.

"This way, the first workflow and part classification systems were developed at Ziehl-Abegg. The team brought the latest software version on a floppy disk and spent hours and days at Ziehl-Abegg. They often got to the hotel at 3 o'clock in the morning. Just like the consultants still do it in the hot phase today," co-founder Martin Wolf says.


3 Computers, 2 Chairs, 1 Coffee Machine

W. Ernst Informatik GmbH Is Founded

Three portable computers worth 16,000 marks, two chairs and a display kitchen with a coffee machine. With this inventory, brothers Leo and Werner Ernst and Martin Wolf found their new company. The most valuable capital of W. Ernst Informatik GmbH is the motivation to "do it better" than before, combined with the corresponding know-how.

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3 Computers, 2 Chairs, 1 Coffee Machine

Bild der original ersten Stühle

Since the 80s, the three founders have gained ERP knowledge together. But now they want to found their own business, one that lasts and is built on a solid foundation. Their basic rule is to tailor the software 100 percent to the customers' needs, and to only promise what can be kept. This is why sales and software development are strictly separated right from the start. This organizational structure still exists 25 years later.

Named Beneath an Indoor Tree

The start-up moves to its first office in 1 Technopark in Siegelbach (Kaiserslautern). Already in the same year, a second office is opened in Hamburg. A little later, the product is given its name. Beneath the weeping fig in Werner Ernst's living room, they agree on the name "proALPHA". "pro" refers to Progress, the database technology used, and "ALPHA" stands for the very first version. What was first meant to be a working title soon turns out to be quite catchy and memorable, and finally becomes the name of the company itself.